The term “twenty-something,” or at least the idea that has become attached to it has always bothered me.
The person, or the idea of a person, that our culture has hooked to this term is someone newly coughed out of the school system, bumbling around the “real world,” moving to a new city that doesn’t live up to their Utopian expectations, accepting a job they hate, and then having a quarter-life crisis in the middle of a high-end shoe store, all while chasing external validation from their bar tab, their salary, and their IKEA-ized apartment.
The BuzzFeed articles, the latest romcom or Sex and the City sitcom, the endless numbered lists riffing on the ridiculous, shallow existence of the twenty-something as he/she struggles to find his/her place in the world. The accepted standard of one night stands and mimosas and big-faced watches and Instalikes, of coming home to a bowl of wine and guacamole and an evening torn between swiping left or right. All to the anthem of, “I’m young. I just want to live,” mixed with, “It’s whatever. I’m a shit-show.”
It’s always frustrated me. Because yet again, I find the media shoving me into a skin that doesn’t even come close to fitting. And even worse, we are building an idea about my generation (which I am PROUD to be a part of) that is entirely, tragically limiting.
Since it’s my blog, let me tell you what I think of, what I see in our “twenty-somethings.”
I see a generation that’s either totally jazzed by the corporate world or totally bored by it. There is no in between. I see a generation practically bleeding creative energy, whether they are aware of it or not, in the photos on their Instagram account, in their outfit-of-the-day posts, their YouTube channel, or in their bedroom, behind closed doors. I see a generation enraged by the injustice going on in this world, desperately wanting to contribute, to rise up, to change, but so weighed down by the need to survive and save face that their spirit fails to make the leap.
I see a generation craving to be vulnerable. I see a generation who looks in the mirror and says, “I’m just on the edge of knowing you.” I see a generation continuously misunderstood, underestimated, and berated for their shallow social media existences, their disconnection and disinterest.
But we are interested. We have things, several in fact, that set us on fire. Align us with those visions, and we will work miracles. But misaligned, we fall quickly to mediocre.
A generation that is growing incapable of faking it. A generation that is falling out of love with that reward promise, that instead looks at the messy, creative, near-unfathomable process, and says, “Yes. There. That’s where I can get to work.”
A generation leaking into their phones to be authentic because somewhere along the line we forgot to ask them, “Hey, what is it you’re dying to create? How do you want to be?” Somewhere along the line, this generation lost interest in your world because you forgot to get interested in theirs.
And this is the part where pronouns begin to fail me. I’m not even sure who I’m talking to. Who is the “you?” Who forgot to ask me what I’m really about? My teachers? My parents? My film directors? My Harry Potter characters? Who held up the mirror and said, “What do we need to add to this to make it worthy?” instead of saying, “Isn’t it so beautiful already?”
Of course, it doesn’t matter where we point the finger. The point is not an “us vs. them.” In fact, that’s entirely counterproductive. The real point is that I invite you here, now, to raise your standards and start a conversation.
My fellow “twenty-somethings” I demand that we own our greatness, our creativity, our passion, our light, our worth.
To the media, cut the crap, already. We’re more than that. Stop pretending we give a shit about who the last person was to “break the internet.”
And to my other generations, (I say this with so much love) how about we lay-off the self-righteousness? You say, “I don’t understand you.” Well, the next time we’re at a Christmas party or the gas station, the next time you bump into us while we’re scrolling on our phones, how about you just ask.