I feel, as millennials, we get a lot of crap. Whether it’s headlines about what we’ve “killed” or for simply being “entitled” or “lazy”, we just can’t seem to get any positive praise from the generations before us. Yes, I’m looking at you, Baby Boomers.
But, in the midst of all this chaos, it got me thinking how many times I’ve felt bad for simply making choices that seem to be bettering my mental, physical, emotional state because of said headline writers and Baby Boomers. The constant tug of war of doing what I know is right, versus doing things “the way it’s always been” has never been a bigger issue than it is now for millennials.
And, to be honest, I’m downright tired of it, so here’s a list of 5 very important things that millennials (or really, anyone) need to stop apologizing for and feeling bad for, like, yesterday:
Your relationship status.
Listen here, fellow millennials. Just because your great, great, great Grandma Sally Mae was married at the age of 17 doesn’t mean you have to be. Hell, you don’t even have to be married at the age of 30 or 40. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being single, and choosing to stay single, for any period of time – even if that time is forever. More and more millennials are turning their sights to travel, self discovery and the single life, and honestly, I think that’s pretty freaking awesome. Focus on you, develop who you are, understand what it is you want and need to be your best self. Learn to love who you are, every single part of you. Yes, including those nights you eat three day old, cold Domino’s pizza while you wear the same pajama’s you’ve worn every night this week and binge watch Friends for the 200th time.
And, if at the end of this coffee fueled peyote-style spiritual journey known as your 20s, you realize that you’re just better off alone then do it. Shirk off the “you’ll find someone” comments with that carefully taught coping skill you learned from your therapist that is literally just imagining yourself Superman punching those who cross you directly to the center of the earth. Inhale peace, (attempt to) exhale that crippling wave of existential crisis crushing your very being, and be proud of your life choices – because I’m proud of you, and that’s really what matters here.
Oh! And on that same note, you definitely shouldn’t feel bad if you do decide to: be in a relationship but never get married, get married young or quickly, get divorced, be in an open relationship, be in a polyamory relationship or any other type of relationship! Your focus should be your happiness, your well being, and then the terrible, ignorant opinions of total strangers. Because, usually, once you get to that and you have the other ducks in a row, you won’t really care about the terrible ignorant opinions of total strangers; that’s a fact.
Your decision to not have children.
Remember how your great, great, great Grandma Sally Mae got married at 17? Well, you probably also know by now that she also had kids .0000001 seconds after she got married, and that’s just the way they did it and it’s how Baby Boomers expect you to do it. They expect you to get married, have kids, have a fence, minus the white picket, and be the perfect stay at home modern day (but highly regarded) slave to tiny humans. But, listen, you don’t have to do that, and you don’t have to feel bad for making the conscious choice to remain child free.
What makes millennials so ahead of their time is that they get that kids are a HUGE DEAL. They are literal beings that need you and depend on you forever. Or, well, basically forever. You give up a lot to have a child, and honestly it’s just not for everyone. Stop feeling like you have to have kids just to have purpose in life. News flash: having kids doesn’t make you any better of a human being, because I know some pretty terrible people who have kids (and probably shouldn’t, if we’re being honest).
Truth be told, having kids just makes you more exhausted and twice as stressed about the already tiny amount of money you have remaining in your bank account after you pay your monthly student loan bill and the ever inflating cost of living that is strangely disproportionate to the area you’re living in. Yes, yes, I know, there are tons of pro’s that outweigh having children, but please, leave me alone so I can imagine Superman punching you into the earth’s core, okay?
Your desire to speak out against racism, sexism, abuse, corruption and many, many other issues plaguing our world.
I hear it now, rising from the depths of the lungs of your 50 year old whiter-than-rice aunt and uncle: “Back in my day we didn’t have racism or sexism or abuse or corruption or other misc. issues! We just ignored they existed and kind of just hoped they went away. After all, those POC, Gays, Hippies, Females, and Other Misc. People Not Like Me can’t be a problem if we refuse to acknowledge their existence.”
Sorry, Aunt and Uncle I’m Not Racist But…, that’s not how this works. Instead of us ignoring the issue, we millennials are here, some of us are queer, and many of us are filled with existential fear.
Honestly that phrase has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to use it because it makes me laugh. Sorry, not sorry.
Anyways, so maybe it’s just me, but I feel like millennials get a lot of heat from older generations for “stirring the pot” and “creating issues that aren’t actually there”. Just because you ignored your racist neighbors actions doesn’t mean racism still isn’t alive and well. Millennials are tired of watching the world sit idly by while perfectly wonderful and valid humans are being denied basic rights, and I don’t see how that’s so bad?
If you feel like by us doing this, that we’re “creating issues” and “stirring the pot” because we’re identifying how people are being mistreated and how we (sometimes unknowingly) continue to breed hate, misogyny, racism, bigotry, sexism, pineapple on pizza, and many other huge divided issues, then allow me to put it in a blender and turn it on high.
We’re an outspoken generation, and it’s not a bad thing. Stop apologizing for showing the world how they can improve, and how to be better at creating peace in a day and age that is filled with hatred. Never stop advocating for what you believe in. Just… don’t be a tool about it, nobody likes tools. Everything is good in moderation.
Practicing and maintaining a rigorous (but needed) self care routine.
I just don’t get the hate for the self care movement. People say us millennials are “obsessed” with self care as if I’m supposed to be offended by this. I will never feel bad for possessing the self awareness to understand my mental, emotional and physical limits before it propels me into a month of panic attacks. Seriously, while it all seems like a good time to spiral into the depths of your own mind for a month, I can attest that it’s not exactly as appealing as some Tumblr users like to make it seem. Just say no to the romanticism of mental health, kids; just say no.
So, Debbie or Brenda or some other stereotypical name for “Can I speak to the manager about this 2 year expired coupon?”, if it makes me self absorbed, pretentious or selfish to prioritize my personal needs in order to be my best self, then I’ll take the vanity label and wear it like a badge of honor. Give me a 360 degree mirror and watch me stare at myself making duck faces for the rest of time, but don’t you dare make me or anyone else feel bad for taking a day off work to rest if I feel like I’m hitting my limit.
Personally, I find self awareness a much more attractive and useful life skill than knowing how to do math in Excel. In fact, I can think of 500 far more practical skills that are more useful than understanding how to do number magic in Excel, but that’s a discussion for a different day.
Cutting off toxic friends and family members, or leaving toxic situations.
Let’s get real here: if I had a toe that was infected with some super rare, incurable disease that could only be stopped simply by removing the toe, I don’t think I’d think twice about it. I would, probably without hesitation, decide to remove that toe and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would shun you, shame you, guilt you, for choosing to do so. I mean, really, who would choose keeping a toe that would ultimately slowly destroy them when you can get rid of it, cut it off, and feel almost instantly better? Probably Debbie from our previous point. I see you Debbie, and I’m disappointed in you.
So why is it that we, as millennials, some how feel guilty for doing the same when that toe is actually a person, and that disease is emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse by a friend, family member or spouse?
Yeah, that’s what I thought man in the back row with his mouth hanging open slightly. Oh, but I hear him saying slightly under his breath: “Well yeah, but you’re just lucky to still have *insert toxic person* in your life. Mine’s dead and you’ll feel bad when you no longer have them here.”
Kind sir, I don’t have the time of day to go through all this, because if I opened my handy dandy notebook full of clap backs, we’d be spilling more tea and throwing more shade than all the seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Taylor Swfit’s LWYMMD music video combined.
Let me just make this clear: REMOVING. TOXIC. PEOPLE. FROM. YOUR. LIFE. IS. NOT. SOMETHING. TO. FEEL. BAD. ABOUT. Did I just do the news version of clapping out my syllables? I think I did. Am I cool yet? Probably not, says my not-middle-aged-but-I-feel-middle-aged, out of touch self.
The moral of all these points are: Don’t make excuses for people who do not understand your reality. They will never understand what you’ve been through, what you struggle with, or how it made you feel to live in your own personal hell each day. Be confident in your decisions, and anyone who makes you feel otherwise? Throw glitter in their face as you float away on your cloud of all the shits you do not give. Do not apologize for prioritizing your own personal happiness to the standards of total strangers; you are worth more than that.
So get out there millennials, seize the day, order your avocado toast, and buy homes to support your growing family of 4 dogs and 7 cats. I see you, and I’m proud to call you a fellow generational buddy.
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