By society’s standards I’m a millennial. Born in the early 80s I grew up in a privileged, middle-class environment where I had access to a computer easily at a young age. I lived out my carefree, teenage years as the world entered the new millennium. I’ve lived the American dream: graduated college, gotten married, had kids.
As a millennial, I’m also your typical 90s kid. I’ve seen every episode of Full House, know every lyric to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song, and of course watched way too much television growing up. I was reminded of my age recently when out for a girls night and the waiter who was no more than 20 years old replied, “What school did he go to?” when we asked if he knew who Zach Morris was (to which I derisively replied “Bayside High”).
It’s these times I understand why other generations are frustrated with us. I’ve defended my title to older siblings, co-workers and professors who say we’re aloof, disenfranchised, entitled. Why can’t we be more like the generation before us? Generation Xers work hard, pay their dues and are self-sufficient. I can argue I graduated college the year of the great recession, employment for my husband and me has been unsteady to say the least, and that due to circumstances beyond our control, the first home we bought we lost in a short-sale due to the housing crash. These are obstacles our generation has faced. This title I defend of being a millennial is a tough one to carry, however I carry it with millions of my fellow millennials.
There comes a point though when you have to examine all aspects of the critiques laid upon our generation. When you let down your defenses and listen to the criticism because perhaps there is some truth.
Last fall, my husband was laid off, putting our family of four in a scary but familiar place. He works in an ever-changing, cut-throat industry where you’re looked at as a dollar sign, not a person. For the entirety of our marriage and being a mother to our two beautiful children, I’ve lounged in the comfort of familiarity. Living and raising my children in my hometown, with my mother just a 15-minute drive away, my sister-in-law less than two miles from my homestead, and two of three siblings within a 20-mile radius, I live a comfortable life. I take my children to the same pediatrician that I went to as a child. We drive by my husband’s high school on a regular basis. It’s all too comfortable.
After my husband lost his job, the inevitable new job search began. First, locally with the usual suspects. He made calls throughout his network, contemplated going back to previous employers in the area, even entertained the idea of a career change. Being in the niche industry, opportunities are few and far between worldwide, much less locally. It was becoming more and more clear that a relocation might be on the horizon.
He started sending out resumes as far west as California, and as far north as Maine. He got offers from companies in Fargo, ND and Detroit, MI, but being a Florida girl all my life, the idea of six months of snow was intimidating, I wasn’t ready. After turning down these offers, all of a sudden his once booming job search came to a screeching halt. Weeks went by with nothing. It was scary. I prayed to the God I love and have counted on all my life for direction. He responded. I was paralyzing myself. I wasn’t listening. He was telling me to go. To trust Him. I needed to start listening. I made a promise to Him and myself that I would put this in His hands and go wherever he led us.
Within a few days, my husband got a call from Denver, Colorado. The call lasted over an hour. It was my mate’s dream job, but it meant we had to move. The next thing I knew I was on a flight to Colorado on my birthday to visit what would be our new home. I had never even visited before, much less ever dreamed of moving there. It was (and is) gorgeous. The snow-covered Rocky Mountains, the untouched sprawling land, the crystal clear streams. I was looking for faults, but couldn’t find any. The Man upstairs had really come through for us.
We returned to Florida with the understanding we would move once the kids were out of school, another huge blessing. I felt relaxed and at ease knowing this was God’s plan. I was prepared to tell people our plans, and ready for their reactions. Get ready to be cold! Are you sure you want to shovel snow?
What I wasn’t prepared for was the shock and almost horrific reactions I received, particularly from my own friends. Aren’t you scared? Is your mom moving with you? I’m so sorry you have to move, that sucks!
I was shocked over and over as I the same sentiments were repeated time and time again. What about the excitement of moving to a new place, I thought? What happened to taking risks?
Is our generation so coddled that we are denying ourselves a full life?
Generations before us came over on boats with barely anything but the shirts on their backs looking for a new world where they could worship freely. Before technology, most of our parents or grandparents were required to move for jobs living in multiple states before settling down.
We can’t be a generation paralyzed by fear of the unknown. We can’t cling to the comforts of the familiar, while denying ourselves the full experience of life. We have the incredible gift of being able to take risks, be adventurous, and shake things up a bit. Most of us with loving families to support and encourage us, and be there should we fail.
Blogger Nanea Hoffman sums it up:
“None of us are getting out of here alive, so stop treating yourself like an afterthought.
Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean.
Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure.
Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.”
And I would add: take risks.