Hello, I’m a Millennial

I recently came across an article on Facebook detailing tweets for “Millennials Who Are Just Tired of Bullshit.”  It included gems like “Millennials can’t afford homes because they are greedily using both kidneys,” “the other day  I tried to get some errands done and everywhere I went there was a Boomer standing in my way.  It felt like a metaphor,” and “Millennials are so spoiled with their smartphones and tablets.  All we had at their age was the ability to buy property in Central London.”  And while I can certainly appreciate the self-deprecating humor, it was the comments that made me the most angry.

After reading them, a thought occurred to me:

If you have enough time to complain about your circumstances, you’re not doing enough to try and change them.

It’s like my coaches always said:  “If you can talk while you’re running, you’re not running hard enough.”  Or akin to those who complain about it being cold but refuse to put on the jacket lying next to them because “it’s ugly.”  And one comment in particular, which was liked over 3,000 times and had hundreds of comments in agreement, went something like this:

“Go get a job, you’ll be able to afford it.  M’kay.  I’ll go get a job once I finish the other two jobs I have that are just enough to pay rent because Boomers won’t retire and give Millennials the chance to get the kind of job that can pay rent with one paycheck, not four.  Then, I’ll get another job to pay for food, because I like being able to not starve.  If I have time, I’ll need another job to pay for the therapy I’ll need from the mental exhaustion of working those four jobs, because bills are more important than being alive and healthy.  Oh, and I’d better hope at least one of those jobs isn’t run by a skinflint who refuses to pay for my healthcare because they believe the giant cheese-covered meatloaf they elected is never wrong.  Speaking of, I may need a fifth job to pay for Russian language classes, because I’m going to need to teach my future offspring (that I’ll be forced to bear thanks to the anti-choice and pro-rapist agendas of said meatloaf) Russian in order to help them understand infallibility of the New World Order when it comes.”

A look at the individual who left the comment above’s Facebook page reveals she went to “Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” and that she works as an actress at The Central New York Playhouse.  And that, “Ms. Bitch-and-Moan about my financial situation,” is why you need those five jobs.  It’s not because my father won’t retire from his job to make way for you, and it’s not because Meryl Streep keeps getting cast in movies.

It’s because you want to be an actress for a living.

Which, by the way, is totally fine.  I have tons of friends that pursue acting, modeling and singing.  And they all do so without complaining and blaming their circumstances on someone else.

From as far back as Millennials can remember, we’ve been told things like “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” and “you can be anything you want to be.”  It’s a great dream, and partially true.  But it’s not reality…at least not for most people.  And so we grow up thinking that, professionally speaking, everything should be filled with rainbows and unicorns; that if, professionally speaking, we are not happy, it’s someone else’s fault.

We go and get degrees in Philosophy, British Literature and History of Renaissance and Gothic Architecture in Eastern Europe from the 1700s, and then we complain because we can’t find jobs that pay what we need to live.  We scoff when we have to put in more than 40 hours because we “demand a quality of life balance” during every moment of our professional careers.

 But the reality is, unless you were born with a trust fund, you have two options:  (1) choose a profession as a means to an end.  Look at it as an investment that will pay returns over the next 40 years.  You may not *LOVE* it, but it will pay the bills, provide for whatever you need, and it’s a smart decision; or (2) do what you love, regardless of potential income.  Be an actress.  Travel the world.  Pose for selfies on Instagram until you become insta-famous.  Or, as many of my friends have done, be a full-time volleyball coach.  Do whatever your big Millennial heart desires, because then you’ll “never have to work a day in your life.”

To those who choose option 2, I admire your bravery; hell, I would quit my job tomorrow to travel the world or coach volleyball full-time if I could afford it.   But if you choose option 2, keep this in mind:  Those you see as “living proof” that option 2 is possible…they didn’t get there without a ton of hard-work, a little luck, and never giving up.  When they “threw caution to the wind” and went for it, they didn’t expect others to provide opportunity for them.  None of my coaching friends complain that Russ Rose, at 63 years old, is “crowding their space.”  Instead, they’re learning from those damn baby-boomers that are “still in the game” because they know what they’re doing; they’re taking lower-paying positions because it’s what they love, and they do so with the understanding that there are sacrifices that come with being able to solely do what you love.  Because you don’t get to have it both ways unless you put in the work required to do so.

And that’s what should embody the spirit of a Millennial.  Because, quite frankly, you have to put in the work for the life you want.  But for some reason, many in my generation have forgotten that very simple premise.

Not only do they want to build Rome, but they want to do it in a day and they refuse to break a sweat doing it.

Part of it has been the rise of social media, where we can lead one to believe we live the greatest life ever without having to put in the work.  I’m definitely guilty of that.  One look at my Instagram and you think I have it made.  But what you don’t see is that I’m writing this after billing nearly 50 hours this week; I’ve worked so much this week that I likely won’t do anything this weekend…because I’m tired.

And I can assure you many of my Millennial friends did the same this week, last week and the week before.

So, those of you whiny-Millennials who think everything should come easily…maybe if you spent more time working than complaining about your situation, you wouldn’t be in that situation.

And to the other generations who think all Millennials are lazy, entitled, and ungrateful, I’ll gladly introduce you to countless Millennials who defy your preconceived stereotype.

Because the truth is, there are tons of hard-working Millennials who don’t feel the world owes them anything simply because they are breathing.

You just don’t  hear from them much because they’re too busy working.

My Little Blue Book: A Decade of Lessons…Not Stamps

Ten years ago I found my passion.

My passport was due to expire in October, and I’m gearing up for a trip to Panama and Colombia in June, so I had to renew it because it wasn’t valid for six-months post departure.  In doing so, I had a long moment of reflection as I slid my passport into the envelope:

TEN YEARS ago, my life changed forever.

Let’s face it:  I didn’t exactly grow up with a golden spoon in my mouth.  And other than the occasional border-crossings between Brownsville, Texas and Matamoros, Mexico, I never ventured out of the country as a child.  In fact, my first “real” international trip didn’t come until I was 20, when my boyfriend at the time insisted I join him and his family for vacation in Puerto Vallarta.   Honestly, other than a few trips for athletic-related events, I had never really ventured out of Texas.  So I got my passport.

Fast-forward ten years, and I’m sitting here with 3 continents, 20 countries and 42 states under my belt, along with some of the most amazing experiences, pictures, memories and friends.  Highlights include bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls bridge, watching wild hippos fight in Botswana, snorkeling with massive sting-rays and manta-rays in Bora Bora, rafting the great Zambezi river, living on a dive boat for a week in the Bahamas, hiking to boiling lake in Dominica, and seeing the faces of the children in Africa when we handed out desperately needed items.  Basically, I’ve done some really amazing things in the last ten years.

And it’s all been possible because of that little blue book.

It represents freedom.   Adventure.  Passion.  Culture.  Enlightenment.  Humbleness.

In discussing passports, some people say they’re “just stamps.”

Those people have never truly traveled…they’ve vacationed.  And I believe there is a difference between “vacationing” and “traveling”:  Vacationing involves having fun; traveling involves having fun while learning something in the process.

I’ve eaten traditional Sadza with my hands, only to learn I take forks, spoons and knives for granted.

I’ve held the hand of an orphan in an African village, only to learn that I felt extremely guilty I couldn’t save her.

I’ve given the shoes and socks off my feet to locals in exchange for handmade crafts, only to learn some things are valued more than money.

I’ve carried a bucket of water on my head after pumping it from a well, only to learn I am a spoiled first-world brat and could never make it in a rural village.

I’ve felt beyond rich in a country, only to return to America to learn I still have to grind out 60 hour weeks for a middle-class living.

I’ve bought dog food off the shelves of grocery stores around the world to feed to the stray dogs, only to return to my bratty dogs at home turning their noses up at a bone that didn’t interest them; I learned even my dogs are first-world brats.

I’ve traveled.

So don’t tell me they’re “just stamps.”

Because they’re not.  They’re lessons.  Experiences.  Realizations.  And they’re a reminder of the blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed both during my travels and in putting myself in a position to experience the world.  I can open it to any page and tell you a hundred stories, show you a thousand pictures and tell you a laundry list of things I learned from that trip.

Because in holding that little blue book, I have the power to see the world.

It gives me the ability to experience life outside of my every day reality.  It gives me the power to recognize how genuinely small me and my problems are in comparison to the reality of the cruel world.  It gives me the ability to gain first-hand knowledge and insight regarding how truly blessed I am to have the life I do.

So…although I’m closing that particular little blue book after a decade of travel, I’m beginning a new chapter of my life when my next little blue book comes in.

I can only hope it provides everything (and more) than this last decade has.

I didn’t memorialize my first decade in writing, and I regret it.  In starting my new decade of travel, I’ve decided to write about the things I learn, the things I see, the things I experience and the people I meet.