Are We Waiting to Grow Up?

I’ve been doing some research on an oh so secret project (I’ll explain myself later, promise) and I have been seeing quite a bit of literature out there “explaining” why Millennials “aren’t growing up” or “things Millennials are refusing to do” and I can’t help but feel insulted. The general consensus of older generations is that we’re: lazy, immature, financially irresponsible children who are shirking the necessary responsibilities of life. I could not disagree more. While no generation in its entirety is perfect, I do believe that Gen. Y has a few things stacked against them.

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It’s true that Gen. Y is holding off on major purchases, but with the average student loan debt at the end of 2013 being $29,400, can you blame us? These numbers were not even on the radar of 30 years ago. Most students today are facing 20 years of repaying student debt whereas our Gen. X counterparts only had a fraction of that debt. Of course, one can argue that we “dug ourselves into this hole”, but I can guarantee you it wasn’t a Millennial who sold the “student loans are a good debt to have because a degree is a solid investment” line. We also have to deal with the reality that workforce is stacked against us.

The days of staying with one job for 30 years are dead and gone.  According to Forbes the average worker stays at each of his/her jobs for 4.4 years. If you ask other generations it’s because we don’t want to stick it out, or we want to be the CEO within the first year. The truth is that most millennials are looking for jobs that can help them manage the unbearably high student loans they have to pay back. The average salary for recent 2013 graduates is $45,327. However, when you put that in context with the $29,400 student loan average and cost of living, it’s not an easy feat. So where are the decent paying jobs? They are still with the same people who applied to them decades before.

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Since the average retirement age jumping up from 57 in 1992 to 62 in 2013, Baby Boomers have not been making enough room for younger generations to fill in. This forces, Gen Y to work any job that comes their way to make ends meet. There are as many as 40% of recent graduates are employed in jobs that do not require degrees. Gen X does not understand this hardship because they have the experience and degrees to go after higher paying jobs.

These are just a few things that millennials are dealing with. I’m not even going to touch the dating scene as that could take some time getting into. With that being said, I fully accept the job market and my student loans. No one held a gun to my head as I signed my master promissory note and I am paying them back. Due to the fact that I (and most millennials too) am being responsible for my debt, certain life goals tend to take a backseat. What grinds my gears about these articles and beliefs held by older generations is that their expectations for us are quite ridiculous.

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The biggest argument against millennials is that we are immature and irresponsible because we aren’t settling down and getting married. So you’re telling me, that on top of trying to establish a decent career and paying back student loans, I’m supposed to be getting married and popping out babies simultaneously? In my opinion that would be the irresponsible thing to do. Why would I join in union with another person facing the same realities as myself while trying to make a family with a bunch of debt and a shaky job market hanging over our heads? Then to add insult to injury put a baby in the mix. Sounds like a great way for a marriage to fail. Yeah, no thanks.

In my opinion millennials that are not trying to rush into more responsibilities are more intelligent than you realize. It’s not that getting to the altar and starting a family are not goals of millennials, it’s just that there are a few things we need to take care of first. So before you go rushing to judgement about how we don’t want to grow up or are killing the real estate market take an honest hard look at what our reality looks like. It’s not 1980 anymore and we’re rolling with the punches as best we can. Don’t worry though, we’ll “grow up” eventually, Millennials do you agree? What are some of the things you have to figure out before you “grow up”?

Why Interpersonal Communication is Dead

Today, I was going to write about my fondness for admiring older men (another story for another time), but I find myself baffled by the complexities of topics such as harassment and the like. I wasn’t going to talk about such subjects because as a woman, it appears that I may have differing opinions on the matter as opposed to the masses. However, after watching some troubling YouTube videos and reading about scary moments when a member of the opposite sex tried to strike up a conversation; I have become to believe one thing. Interpersonal communication is dying among Millennials.

What is Interpersonal Communication?

 Interpersonal communication is the process by which people exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages: it is face-to-face communication.

 

Obviously I don’t mean that everyone under that category cannot speak to one another, but as we all become so engrossed with our precious technologies, we seem to have forgotten how to talk to our fellow man. When was the last time you talked to someone you didn’t know who was within 10 feet of you? Furthermore, if someone approached you offering casual conversation, would you accept and engage? I’m not talking about the cat calling weirdness that sometimes happens, but if a person poses a legitimate topic, would you write them off?

I ask this because all too often, I’m seeing/hearing people complain about harassment when the question was harmless. Since we seldom interact with each other in a spontaneous fashion, it seems as though our ability to do so has diminished severely. What I mean by this is that, communication/interaction is like a muscle, if you don’t exercise it from time to time, it will become underdeveloped and essentially useless. I grew up in a small  town in Southern California, where if you were in a long line, it would be completely normal to strike up a conversation with the person standing next to you. Nowadays doing that same action results in the recipient either thinking you’re weird or are trying to hit on them. Even more so, that one encounter becomes the cornerstone argument that harassment is a real and rampant thing that is oppressing the female gender. One Youtuber even went as far as saying that a woman’s #1 fear is rape. Uh, my biggest fear is snakes…so… yeah. I’m not saying harassment does not exist, it does. Has it happened to me? You bet. However, I do not live my life in fear because of a few instances. What’s even more frustrating is that hashtag movements have become a soap box for individuals to talk about the one time they got hit on at the bar by someone who was either incredibly nervous or could have been a jackass.

Let’s be honest, going up to a stranger and starting a conversation is hard, for everyone. It requires one to muster up the courage to speak with you in the first place, which seems like a miracle since we’re so distant from each other anyway. We’re already so closed off from the idea of talking to others without it coming from a cellphone, it’s not even funny. So my next question is, if talking to someone in a line, at a bookstore, or in a bar is so taboo or considered harassment, how are we supposed to connect with one another? Personally, even as an introvert, if anyone offers something interesting to say, I gladly welcome the interaction. Why? Because I appreciate the effort of a person wanting to interact and be human for a minute. What’s not human is being glued to a device as your only means of connecting with the outside world. Also, I find it entertaining as some of the very same people who are for this “movement” are the very same folks who complain about having trouble making friends or meeting potential partners. Well those types of interactions require you to speak to one another. It’s not rocket science.

To be clear, I am not downplaying anyone’s plights or dealings with harassment of any kind. I believe that everyone has the right to feel comfortable and safe. My problem is with the growing few who interpret a book recommendation as a scary experience thus deeming someone creepy. Guess what, not everyone is trying to sleep with you. Sometimes it’s nice to speak to someone new using your voice and not your thumbs. Let’s turn off our phones and get to know each other in the old fashioned way. So, with that being said, I’m off to go to a new coffee shop and speak to a stranger. I encourage you to do the same. 🙂

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Put Yourself Out There

Have you ever sat in a crowd of people and felt like you were the only person in the room? If there is one thing that I’ve learned these past 5 months is that no man is an island. You need people in your life, both professionally and personally. I will admit, I tend to try to go the lone wolf route and I can guarantee I’ve fallen flat on my face because of it. Now I’m understanding that I need to connect and also ask for help and that it’s ok to do so. There’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel, especially if there are tons of good ones out there already.If I had to offer any advice to my millennial cohorts it would be this:

1. Be Honest and Ask For Help

If you do not understand something, talk with someone who does. I cannot tell you how many countless endeavors, I‘ve been at the mercy of because I did not want to appear “incompetent”. This has been a tough habit to kick, but the funny thing is, the more I communicate my needs, the more I connect with others. I find that when I’m being emotionally honest and am investing in a conversation, I’m getting more intrinsic value out of it. That only happens when you are honest with what you want and seek out others to make it happen.

2. Be Vulnerable

I used to think that being vulnerable was a sign of weakness, and boy was I totally wrong. Whether you’re summoning up the courage to talk to the dude you creep on at the coffee shop, or asking for more responsibility at work, you have to be transparent. Sure there is a possibility that you may not get the result you were hoping for, but you wouldn’t get it anyway if you did nothing altogether. And who knows, you could have a hot date and a raise, you have to put it out there first.

3. Invest in Others

In the culture of “now now now” I find it commonplace for people to not put much effort into their relationships with others. You would think with all this technology surrounding communication, we’d be pro’s at interpersonal communication, but that is just not so. We’re so plugged in looking for the next best thing we don’t realize that what we’re looking for could be right in front of us. It just takes a little time and elbow grease to get there. Instead of dismissing one another, try and actually get to know people. I’ve been working on getting to know others and not writing people off, and you know what? Some of those people aren’t half bad. Had I just gone with the first impression and kept my elitist attitude, I would not have seen the awesomeness of some people I am proud to call friends. I could spend a lot more time on this and maybe I will in another post, but if you take anything away from this, I hope it’s that we all need someone to lean on at some point. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or significant other, you have to have someone you can confide in. Of course, this can be absolutely terrifying in the beginning. Sharing feelings? Yuck, who does that? But once you start it’s one of the most rewarding experiences one can have. So I challenge everyone to ask for help, or talk to a stranger sometime this coming weekend. Who knows where it could take you? 🙂

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