Dear Baby Boomers: An Open Letter from a Millennial
Dear Baby Boomers,
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 enter 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.
Just a Millennial