You have some strong opinions about Millennials, don’t you? It feels like we can’t turn around without seeing another article about how we’re lazy, a comment about how we’re too sensitive, a snarky meme about how we all need trophies.
You make fun of us for those participation trophies we got as kids, but we didn’t exactly buy them for ourselves when we were five. Naw. Ya’ll bought them, Baby Boomer parents. Not us.
Funny thing is, those participation trophies weren’t such a bad thing. Because they taught us the importance of contributing, that half the battle is showing up, rolling up our sleeves, and contributing however we could.
But don’t get me wrong, we’re also an ambitious lot. We know the difference between participation awards and legit awards, and we crave the real ones, the accomplishments and achievements. We have access to so many incredible opportunities, but it’s also paralyzing. That’s a lot of pressure to handle.
When we sit around and play video games, you may see laziness, but it’s how we handle stress. Instead of, say, smoking. Mmmhmm. We know what you did. And we, more than past generations, value health and fitness. (Probably because healthcare looks like a mess and we see the impact of negative health choices on our elders.)
But we are stressed and we’re trying to find ways to deal with that.
Because when we were still trying to understand the world, we watched buildings in our country crumble, people dying before our eyes. In our lifetimes, “terrorism” became a common word. We’ve basically never known a time where we weren’t engaged in some kind of war. And the top stressors for any adult are jobs, the economy, money, and relationships. Since the economy tumbled while we were trying to ent
er the job market, it’s not surprising we suffer from more anxiety and depression than previous generations.
We’re also more connected than any other generation. So while you can browse your newspaper, maintaining appropriate distance from the news of the world, we connect with it because it happened to someone we “know” on Twitter and we’ve read personal accounts shared on Facebook. We don’t have the benefit of distance, so we end up personally connecting with every major tragedy in the world. Tell me you don’t realize how exhausting that could be.
And yeah, a lot of us live with our parents, but that’s likely due to financial issues, not a lack of desire for independence. Millennials are on our way to being the most educated generation, probably in part because a lot of jobs require a college degree. (It’s that achievement thing you taught us—get a good education to score a good job.)
But college degrees aren’t free. And those financial burdens are no doubt contributing to the decision to wait until later in life to marry. We know what financial burdens can do to marriages and family. We watched it happen and we saw Generation X suffer as the first significant group of kids of divorce.
Because we’re educated and informed, we see the long list of things that have gone wrong in the past and swear they won’t happen on our watch, which is a lot of responsibility for people who are worried about losing their jobs and trying to pay off student loans. To you, we may look like a generation of Don Quixotes, tilting at windmills, but we’re trying to encourage change however we can, to express dissatisfaction with our current situation and make it clear we want a better world. Maybe it feels like a long time ago, but you Baby Boomers know a thing or two about protests and demanding change.
So yeah, on the surface we may seem entitled and lazy and overly sensitive, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find a generation capable of incredible change because we’re so connected to the world and aware of our incredible opportunities. We’re not going to look like you or act like you, but that’s a good thing. The world we’re inheriting is entirely different from the one you Baby Boomers inherited.
We know we don’t have it all figured out. But if you assume we’re just silly kids, you’re selling us short and sabotaging yourself in the process. So share that article if you must, post that snarky meme if it makes you feel good. But know that we see you. And we’re your hope for the future, whether you like it or not. One day the world will belong to us, and we’d rather have your help than your judgement.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go order myself a trophy.
Anyone who has watched Gilmore Girls for more than one episode has strong opinions about the characters. There are team allegiances based on the boyfriends of the two main characters, anger toward certain plot lines, and passionate ideas about what some of the characters could have become. Those of us who are fans of the show are eagerly anticipating the Netflix revival so we can find out where our favorites are now.
And in the spirit of that anticipation, I decided to host a showdown between two characters who tend to elicit strong opinions from the viewers: Paris Geller and Rory Gilmore.
Warner Bros. Television / Via gilmoregirls.monrezo.be
The two meet during their sophomore year of high school, when Rory transfers in to the private school Paris already attends. Immediately, a rivalry is sparked that eventually morphs into a complex friendship/competition that fascinates us all.
As she is one of the leads of the show, let’s start with Rory, shall we?
Warner Bros. Television / Via eruditegirls.tumblr.com
Oh, Rory. She’s like an earnest, smart puppy. She’s a sweet, dorky kid who’s unabashed about her love for books and her need to make stellar grades. She’s got great witty comebacks and she genuinely cares about people. Everyone likes her. What’s not to like?
But she’s not just likable—she’s accomplished too. She’s student council vice president at a prestigious private school and later becomes the editor of the Yale Daily News.
Pretty impressive credentials, right?
Sure. Except, when you examine those accomplishments, most of them can’t be attributed to Rory herself.
It isn’t Rory who thinks “hey, student council VP sounds like a great opportunity to gain leadership skills.” Nope. It’s Paris who, upon running for president, realizes she isn’t likable enough to win and needs someone more approachable on the ticket. Paris basically begs Rory to run. So sweet likable Rory agrees, as a favor to Paris.
(I have to wonder, though, how smart could she really be if she has no idea extracurriculars are important? As an overachieving student, let me assure you, every one of the top ten students in my graduating class was in at least two clubs.)
And then you have her position as editor of the Yale Daily News. Since journalism was everything Rory ever wanted to do, you’d think she’d be gunning for that editor spot. Except not. She got the position as a compromise candidate when the vote was split between three others and one of them recommended her.
So while it seems like Rory is ambitious, it’s more accurate to say she’s got people around her who help her achieve her goals, who push her toward great opportunities. And while she’s smart, she’s a bit of a delicate flower. When one person announces that she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in journalism, she doesn’t just have a mini, eat all the ice cream meltdown, she has a major felony-committing breakdown. (And I gotta tell ya, girlfriend, if you can’t handle the criticism of one man without breaking down, you’ve just proven him right.)
Although ambition may not be her greatest talent, she is undeniably kind, always participating in Stars Hollow’s wacky events and treating people with courtesy. She’s a good friend, sneaking her best friend books and music. She knows how to work hard, and she studies like nobody’s business. And she’s incredibly loyal to her family, including her Stars Hollow family.
And then there’s Paris Geller.
The CW / Via gurl.com
Oy, Paris is intense. And she’s mean to Rory at the start, so most viewers immediately dislike her. If Rory is a puppy, Paris is a panther. She’s not cute and cuddly—she’s smart and tough and she’ll rip apart anyone who gets in her way. She has dictator-esque tendencies that can occasionally spiral out of control, an abrasive honesty, and an intense level of perfectionism. And unlike Rory, she doesn’t have an entire network of supportive, loving people around her.
Paris is in high school when her parents get divorced. They don’t even show up to her high school graduation—it’s the nanny and the nanny’s kids who are there to cheer for her. Then her family goes bankrupt when she’s in college. And she powers through, in true Paris style.
Talk about ambition, there isn’t a leadership role Paris doesn’t want. She’s a strategist, sizing up the competition the moment she walks into a room. If she makes some enemies on her way to the top, so be it. And although she makes enemies quickly, she’s fiercely loyal to the few people she calls friends.
While Rory is having a breakdown during their senior year, crying on the bathroom floor about her future after graduation (because apparently it’s a complete surprise that she’ll soon be a college graduate with a major in journalism?), Paris is creating a ridiculously comprehensive plan/schedule for senior year. For both of them. So they both will have options for their future. Delicate flower, meet steel magnolia.
Speaking of her future, when Paris has to make an important decision about the direction of her life, she becomes afraid her boyfriend may unduly influence her decision. So she breaks up with him because she’s not about to make a decision based on a boy. (Major contrast to Rory who nearly didn’t go to Chilton because she was interested in a new boy at her school.)
Of course, Paris’s boyfriend comes back and makes it clear he’s there for Paris and he will adapt to her choices. (Smart man!) Paris is ambitious through and through, and she doesn’t care what people think of her. She goes for what she wants and she doesn’t worry about how other people will react.
Rory is sweet and likable. She’s incredibly kind. But if you ask me who I want in my corner, it’s Paris. No contest. Because while Rory may buy you a book and hand you a Kleenex when you’re crying, Paris will help you plan your life and take down anyone who gets in your way.