Bringing About Change

We hear more and more in the news that my so-called generation is the worst generation, the most spoiled, selfish generation. The generation that doesn’t want to work for a living. I say that is not true.

In 1968, Life Magazine published an article about the newest generation of working adults, the Baby Boomer generation. The article reads exactly like the article in Time not too long ago about Millennials, the Time article about how lazy and entitled Gen X kids were in 1990, and a million other examples.

The newest generation of twenty somethings are always self obsessed, have no respect for anyone, don’t want to work, and things were way better last generation. Too bad the last generation was also terrible in the eyes of the generation before it.

Millennials are not selfish and they do want to work. As we were shafted by the poor economy built for us by Clinton’s (and successors) disregard for how Freddie and Fannie were putting housing loans together, we find that as the most educated generation the US has ever seen, we can find nothing that fits our educational levels. We find city planners have left out community locations where people can gather, like previous generations had. We are the loneliest generation; higher rates of loneliness have been found in many surveys. Even as connected as we are online, we still feel left out, alone, and shafted. Unhappy.

We’re also to most aware generation. For hundreds of years, our predecessors had the mentality of feeling “blessed that you even have a job!” You should be happy that your no end job hasn’t given you a raise in three years, or cut your lunch break in half because they can. You should be happy that they give you health insurance and force you to pay for special parking.

You should be happy.

Should we? As the first generation that doesn’t ignore mental health issues, as the first generation open about eating disorders, depression, anxiety, and stress, perhaps we should be happy with whatever makes us happy, and not what society tells us should make us happy.

I took a walk at the local Botanical Gardens near my home today, I realized for the first time that we are the first generation that actually has the potential to be truly happy. As I watched the bees buzz around, I realized that we keep tabs on emotional as well as physical health better than any generation before. We have a social connectedness that has never existed in the world, as I posted pictures of flowers on social media. We have the potential to build the happiest generation.

And it started with me.

After five years at a job where there was nowhere to go, where I hadn’t received a raise since May of 2013, I finally called my boss to tell him I quit. The stress was too much and I could no longer handle it. I had half of a writing career and maybe $1000 in a savings account; the plan had been to leave after I paid off some debts and saved some more so I could start writing full time.

But when my skin started breaking out, when I started gaining stress weight, and having tremendous health problems from the stress of a succession of terrible management decisions and financial disappointments, I knew I wouldn’t make it that long. Only a year ago, at the age of 54, my mother had a heart attack. After a week in the hospital, she is healthier now than she was before, but still. I could see myself in her place. Now that I’m in my 30s, I believe my health really needs to come first.

I gave up my job at a high-stress position to write for myself. This job has it’s own set of problems, but nothing like what I was experiencing at work. I make less, but I’m also spending less. Between tolls, parking, gasoline, purchasing work-appropriate clothing and footwear, expensive food prices if I forgot my lunch, wear and tear on my car, and bills for stress related illness doctor visits, I had spent nearly $20,000 getting to and from work every day in the last five years. I spent an average of about $350 a month, especially when gas prices were high and the distance from work to home was greater.

So I walked around the Botanical Gardens in the middle of the day on a Thursday. I traded in my gym membership for one to the gardens. I traded in the workout that felt like work for something that made me happy. I traded in my job for a different life. I traded in my job security for my health.

Millennials are not selfish, we’re not unwilling to work and we are not lazy. But we’re not going to deal with your crap either. If a job doesn’t fit our lives, we’ll leave. That’s not lazy or entitled, that’s thinking forward. We have the potential to become the happiest, most connected, best working-life balancing generation ever. How is that such a bad thing?

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