Hello My Imaginary Friends,
I’m sorry that I didn’t actually tell you what was wrong with Millennials in the first post in this series.
I could wax poetic about the economy, job market, debt, social issues etc…
Instead I’m going to tell you there’s nothing wrong with them. They are just like every other generation; trying to survive and make a better life for themselves and their kids.
If there is anything wrong with them, it’s that in general their opinions and feelings are ignored.
Here are a few examples from my own life.
As a kid I felt completely helpless in the world. When I complained that one of my teachers was emotionally abusive, I was told I didn’t understand the world and I was being disrespectful. Other than my mother, no one believed me.
This teacher would stop class to spend an entire morning yelling about how stupid we were and how disrespectful we were. He’d yell and rant and then the next day he’d bring candy as treat for the class and say he was sorry.
I had long hair (my older brother had long hair and he was cool so…) and the teacher loved to make fun of me and call me a girl. He’d encourage the other students to make fun of me. Once he went as far as pulling the hair tie out of my hair… so basically pulling my hair. I yelled at him and was sent to the principal’s office. I was sent home. You see, I was just a kid and he was a well-respected teacher. I was sent home a lot because of that teacher.
This was throughout my seventh grade and half of my eighth grade. Just before Christmas break, he stopped being at school. We had a substitute teacher for the rest of the school year. It turns out that he’d been sexually abusing some of the other students. He’d been doing it for years and no one had come forward. They were afraid no one would listen. They were right! No one did until three of them bypassed the community and went to the police.
I still feel guilty for not having realized what he was doing to my classmates. My mom was a social worker and I should have seen the signs. I guess I was too busy dealing with my own stuff.
I was a little of an over achiever in high school. It didn’t translate in grades so much as school involvement. I helped out whenever I could and I joined, or founded, more groups than I can remember.
I volunteered, mostly with the school, and did my best to make things better for the other students and hopefully future students.
In my last year I joined the PTA as the student adviser when a friend couldn’t handle it and her extra courses (brilliant girl both for doing 5-7 classes a semester and for knowing her limits.)
I remember sitting there after a meeting while my ride was at the washroom or talking to someone else and hearing two parents talking about how lazy kids were. How they didn’t work hard enough, didn’t take anything seriously, didn’t volunteer enough, etc.
I didn’t scoff or laugh it off. I took it to mean that being part of 8+ clubs, taking a full course load, working part time, and volunteering wasn’t enough.
I still have trouble saying no. I still feel like I should be doing more.
When I was in university, I met a man on the bus. He asked what I was studying and why. When I told him communications, he snorted and said, “You have no idea how good you have it.”
I believed him. Past generations went to war, fought against oppression, saw rampant hate, dealt with economic crises. I must have been living in a golden age. I felt guilty.
Even though I was working 40 hours a week, taking four classes, and would end up finishing university with $30,000 worth of debt. I still felt guilty.
It’s great to encourage youth to improve themselves and the world around them. It’s important that we millennials take responsibility for the world around us. We know this and we’re trying, but we are the most diverse, and officially now, the largest generation; we won’t all have the same priorities and we might not share yours.