Years ago I started an identity series titled I Am. This year is dedicated to more posts from that series:
I am a millennial.
Millennial catch a lot of flack. For a ton of things. Half the time we get confused with Gen Z because people don’t realise that anyone who’s currently aged between 39 to 24 qualifies to be a Millennial.
Individuals make generations. But generations also make individuals. We are the product of our peers and predecessors. I’ve often quipped around here that if anyone has an issue with how we’re doing life then perhaps they should bring it with those who raised us. After all, that’s where much of our understanding of life came from.
In between the jokes, though, I have given some serious thought over how valid the statements made about Millennials are about us. And me.
Years back, some millennial friends and I were having a conversation on why millennials are accused of having no staying power. Especially by the older generation who typically work at the same job for the better part of their lives, while we seem to hop from one job to the next every 3 months.
Are we just fickle with no sense of direction? Or is there more to our nature as a generation and the way we make our decisions?
One of the insights that emerged from this conversation was our deep-seated need for vision as millennials. We are uniquely hardwired to gravitate towards purpose. We don’t want to work just for the sake of money. However much of it we may want to make. We long for a sense of more – that our work would be more than just a 9-5 and we would have the opportunity to change the world.
For generations that were raised to put survival above self-fulfilment, we can be a confusing bunch. There are those who would argue that we’re unrealistic about how life works. Perhaps they have a point. When you’re dancing to a tune only you can hear, you’re going to look crazy to those around you.
Yet, in our pursuit of these innate desires we have and struggle to explain at times, it’s easy to disregard knowledge and wisdom from those who’ve gone before us. Just because someone doesn’t fully understand or agree with you, doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from them. Just because they’re doing things differently doesn’t mean they’re in contention with you.
God is at work. Not just in individuals but in every generation. The work He does in and through one generation is incomplete without the next. We can’t afford to live and function independently of each other. We have something to give other generations as Millennials. But we have so much we need to receive from them too.
Maybe if we took time to truly get to know one another, we would understand each other better. As Millennials, we would realise that underneath all the fussing sent our way by the older generations, is concern and worry. They want us to succeed in life. They may not always know what to say or how to say it, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re rooting for us. They have much to offer us when it comes to learning how to stay grounded through our lives. We have to be willing to do the time and put in the work.
And in turn, they would realise that even with all the YOLO talk, Millennials do care about life and the future. So much so that we’re not willing to settle for less than what we believe is possible. We’re not running away from reality, we’re running towards a new reality. One where we don’t have to walk the exact same path they’ve trodden or endure every single struggle they’ve gone through. We can learn from them and map out new paths that will carry us to destinations far beyond our wildest dreams. Why should we be stuck reenacting battles they’ve already won when we could be conquering new territories?
God has a plan for each of us and it requires us to tear down the walls that have risen between generations because of how we perceive one another. And in their place build bridges that allow us to stand united in the work ahead of us.
I am a Millenial. I am crazy enough to think I can change the world. In my own way, I’m doing just that. But I’ve also come to realise that I have much to learn from the generations that have preceded me. And victories I owe to those coming after me.
So help me God.
P.S. My good friend Koki Oyuke, wrote a book called Chosen Not Cheated; which I consider to be a love letter to Millenials. It’s the kind of book you keep going back to because it’s just that good. You can get your copy her @kizuribooks on Instagram.