An Open Letter to Millennials Like Talia…
Stefanie Williams

Stefanie. You’re completely right, age does make you wiser.

At 45, I think I’ve been through your life and Talia’s, twice :P.

The problem’s that as old you get, you get wiser about what tough work and sacrifices actually amount in life. You realize that life progression is partially built on them, but they don’t paint the full picture.

I was brought up in a fancy home in an upscale side of town. That created the sense of entitlement you describe for Talia. I drank from the finest Scotch (not Burbon) and my brother and sister had fanciful weddings at towns most expensive hotels and salons.

But then came reality after college. From then on, life reminded me that youngsters are all victors but not adults. One has to win one’s place in life and has to fight for every opportunity and rise to every occasion or else are left behind from the speed train called “Success”.

But it not all depends on one stamina or willingness to endure tough choices. Luck plays a key part and being “at the right place, at the right time with the right people” matter way more powerful than you might think.

Trust me, I know ups and downs well. My country fell into depression in 1994, lost 1 million jobs and lucky me I was not one of them. Unlucky me, I was a college graduate LOOKING FOR MY FIRST JOB, when that happened. Hundreds of resumes later, I gave up looking for that job and started a company (what we now call a Startup). Unknowingly I became an Entrepreneur at age 25. I still lived with my folks and earned $200 a month (not a week or bi weekly) since that was the most our small web page publishing company could make but the business flourished. Several conflicts later I was out the door by 27. Today they make Facebook pages and have 20 employees.

That made me reinvent myself for the first time I decided I wanted to be a Java developer.

That turned out to be a great decision. I was hired as consultant, which actually became my first REAL JOB and my salary grew exponentially. I was making 50k a year before I was 32. And that was just months after 9/11 which meant those k´s allowed me to buy a nice German sports car (not lease it, American style) and have it fully paid in 2 years. They even parked it in front of the night clubs when I arrived. I was back. Full time.

Then reality settle in. Way too many Java and way too many web developers had stolen my cheese.

Time to reinvent once again. I taught myself IT architect principles. Later on I became a business consultant, gave seminars, taught mobile development in Costa Rica and helped several Fortune 500 companies integrate their systems here, in Brasil and in the U.S.

And that’s when you realize that no matter how many business cycles you’ve been in you’re never inmune to them. The older you get, the harder they hit you. Today I’m once again in a slump, with plenty of experience but few companies willing to hire someone my age. If I made 2,000 this month, it’s because I had to fight all Jan for it.

Not sure how long this is gonna last, but as always, one needs to know how to do “silver linings playbooks” in order to survive. I’ve been offered a job in the U.S. and I’m thinking on relocating there if the offer is good enough. Only time will tell if that decision was the correct one or not.

With all that said, I think you should give Talia a break not because she has done enough to survive, which I agree she might not, but because she had the courage to speak her mind out. Maybe her story will push some needed change on the housing market in San Fran and the Bay Area. A serious conversation needs to be engaged allowing people to make ends meet with low wage entry jobs. Else the city’s service industry will collapse and everyone will pay for this.

In the end, it’s not the individual struggle that matters the most, but the combined efforts that make or break a city, a state or a country. We are what we all make of it and by the way we help others in times of distress.

Just like that swahili word chose by Mark Shuttleworth to name his Linux distribution: Ubuntu “I am because we (all) are”…

Have a great day.

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