I want to say this right off the front: I do not live in the camp of people who complain about young people born within some arbitrary window of time. The concept of reducing entire generations to a singular broad definition (and often times judgement) is insane. My use of the generalization (millennial) for the blog title is strategic. If you’re in the camp who feels “they’re the problem” you would never expect this sort of insight.
My millennial friend and I took a ride this week. At one point he inquired on the #DTHT blog and asked how it’s going. He told me he has enjoyed the posts – most recently the post about home plate and not changing the rules to make it easier for kids to be successful. I was intrigued by this. Here’s a young man who society says doesn’t like to work, doesn’t like hard things and feels an overall sense of entitlement – because he was born in the 80’s (is there an eyeroll emoji?).
I had to take this opportunity to ask, in large part because of how much I respect him, and also because who better to answer this question than him. The question was: Why do you think some people refuse to acknowledge the importance of doing hard things and the general message the blog has shared when truthfully everything that has been shared would create a better community?
This insightful young man shared the following… To embrace #DTHT first requires personal reflection. You need to look at yourself – some people do not want to look at themselves. Reflection requires an assessment of what you’ve done, should be doing or don’t do. Personal reflection is hard. You must admit – that’s pretty damn spot on.
#DTHT requires a certain level of individualism and personal strength. My millennial friend told me for a lot of people (not just millennials) that’s scary. They have not been taught HOW to be an individual. They find protection in GROUPS. To embrace #DTHT would be to step outside the group, and in some cases, think against the group. Group life according to my friend is “safe”. As long as you’re in the group, saying group stuff and doing group things… you have protection.
He talked about comfort. Some people are just comfortable. No deep philosophical explanation. Some people just DO NOT want to be uncomfortable. Who can blame them I guess? Discomfort IS hard after all. I get it. I’m pretty comfy right now sitting at my desk sharing this perspective with you. It feels good too. But I can’t imagine feeling this way all the time. I need the discomfort. I need the struggle. I go to the challenge at every opportunity… I do not know any other way.
Some people are sarcastic smart-asses.Not much explanation needed there, eh?
I’m not one to put words into a person’s mouth so I want to preface what I am about to attribute to my millennial friend as something I cannot recall him saying verbatim but I felt was a subtle undertone in his feedback. He shared an observation of people who are unwilling to go against the status quo. His previous reasons all applicable: they have not been taught how to stand for something against a group (be an individual), go against popular opinion, they seek safety and they seek comfort over challenge. But also, the unspoken part, is the risk associated with #DTHT and pushing back against norms, voicing an unpopular opinion and risking loss of the benefits associated with groups.
Our talk was yet another reminder – to be more careful and deliberate in our assessment of people. We cannot afford to jump on some ridiculous bandwagon where generations of people are held to a global and singular definition attributed only to the year of birth – with no reference or value given to the person, where they grew up, how they grew up, how they (not their generation) behave, their personal values, their track record and so on.
If there’s a takeaway for me it is this… Don’t define your relationship with someone or your perception (reality) of them by sweeping generalized standards of dumb-assary (other people). That’s the first thing. Next, judge people you interact with on YOUR interaction with them. Relationships are hard. One person can have five very different relationships with five different people. Let your relationship with people be driven off of your experience with that person – not someone else’s. Maybe, I’m gonna make a crazy suggestion here, but just maybe if you hear one side of a story about someone… before judging them… go get their side. I know… shocking suggestion. Also hard. Also uncomfortable. Oh, it’s hard and uncomfortable, and possibly in line with what you WANT to believe about that person? Think about that… how much does what we WANT to believe have to do with what we are willing to believe – unverified… Deep thoughts!
For all the Millennials out there. Don’t listen to the noise. Life is short. You do not have time to be victims. You are the future. I’ll be the first to say it is ridiculous for anyone to categorize you or blame you for not knowing how to navigate the crazy world we created for you – not that you made – but we made and brought you into. Yet at the end of the day… even if we (your parents and societal leaders) are to blame for failing to properly equip you for this crazy place – you need to figure it out. Oh, it’s hard? Good. We need you to figure out. If you need help. Ask.