I get it.
You are revered as the wealthiest, most active, physically fit generation in American history. You’ve experienced the highest levels of income, often with a modicum of education, thanks to an industrial-based economy. Your upward mobility meant access to an excess of food, apparel, retirement programs, and discretionary products. You fed this capitalistic society well with your abundant consumerism. For most of your lives, you have been blessed and highly favored.
More importantly, Boomers raised us: the Generation X’ers, Y’ers and Millennials. You want the best for us; but it seems many of you think we should implement the exact methods you applied to achieve the same lifestyle – as if the world around us hasn’t changed (largely due to your generation’s influence, actions and population).
But the world has changed. Dramatically.
The (financial, emotional and physical) stability – in which you may have basked in during your 20s – is something many of us have yet to realize as we approach our mid-30s and early-40s. There are many dynamics that have impacted us to this point. But instead of pointing fingers, I’ve recognized some ideologies between us that need to be addressed; specifically, in five (5) areas I’m compelled to put out there:
01 We Will Never Work The Way You Do
Show me someone who works 30 years at the same company and retire with their pension intact and I’ll show you a baby boomer who’s incredibly blessed. I applaud that kind of blessing, but I abhor your condescending expectation for us to do the same. That’s not our reality and it doesn’t make us flaky, wishy-washy or unstable because we, on average, change jobs every 3-5 years if not starting our own businesses.
Steady paycheck? Benefits? Yes, those are great things you enjoyed on general principle. Take it from someone who’s been downsized, re-organized and had contracts expire from some of the largest corporations in the world…there’s no such thing as a steady paycheck just because get a job working for someone else. That blessing can shift in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me? Ask my old neighbor, Mr. Roy, a 59-year old baby boomer whose company folded during his 29th year of employment and now has no pension (and subsequently is STILL working). Our economy is different. You know this. So stop expecting us to work the way you worked. It’s not feasible. It’s not available. It’s not the same as it was when you worked hard. We have to work smart and our career paths are paved with many experiences with many companies, maybe even our own.
02 Health is Wealth
Steroids. Pesticides. GMO’s. Service industries that demand we sit at desks for longer hours, staring at a light bulb (aka your computer monitor) and snacking on processed, high carb viddles from the vending machine next to the Keurig pumping out low-grade caffeine disguised as coffee. Do you realize that we’re not projected to live as long as you are? Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, etc. are all a result of lifestyle and societal influence.
Watch the film, Food, Inc. It’s inevitable that we are leading less healthy lives than you are. It’s ultimately our choice but we are not lazy bums. We are not trying to kill ourselves. We have more gyms than ever before with the most advanced medical breakthroughs in history, but we’re still dying and most of us will die younger than you. And when you tell us how fat we are or how we need to eat less or how much sleep we need; while you’re still serving pork-boiled vegetables, red meat and carb-laden Sunday dinners…that’s not hot, fam.
03 Different Doesn’t Mean Wrong
Calling does seem more effective than texting to you. Social media goes beyond spying on your grandkids’ Facebook page. Instagram is not the best platform to post the pictures from your flip phone. But just because we communicate differently doesn’t mean we got it wrong. Stop acting like your way is always the best way. That’s arrogance and it taints wisdom. The result is your wisdom becomes diluted and something, designed to help your wisdomless children, will miss us because you’re too busy criticizing along with your advice instead of focusing on helping with your expertise.
04 You Were Right vs I Told You So
We need your wisdom, not your indignation. It is such a better feeling to have us let you know you were right versus your taunting us, consciously and subconsciously, when things don’t happen for us in which you warned us. It makes you unapproachable and, again, potentially denies us access to the wisdom you do have. No one wants to hear “I told you so” in any medium but letting you know you were right shows that the lesson was learned and we can move on to the next level. That is what you want us to do, right?
The fifth area allows me to end this on a high note (pun intended):
05 Your Music Was Better
Concept albums. Live musicians. Dynamic vocalists. No AutoTune. Cultural Expression. Political activism. Meaningful lyrics. I have no argument in the area of music because your generation had no chill when it came to cranking out timeless compositions.
But we did give you hip-hop and on the cool, our indie scene is incredible.
If you could just pause and see that we are doing the best with what you gave us, I’m sure we could communicate better. In return, we won’t be so much on the defensive. And please excuse those of our generation who are NOT trying and have a sense of entitlement.This doesn’t apply to all of our respective generations, but it happens enough in my environment to say something.
We are working smart with the same level of intensity that you worked hard. We have more health challenges than you will ever know. Our differences do not equal our flaws nor your superiority of thought. As we learn lessons, the easy and/or hard way, let us come to you and show you what we’ve learned and how your being right helped us become a little wiser. Stop waiting to slam us with our mistakes. You didn’t do everything right either.
If we can simply respect each other’s views as adults who live in the freest country on earth, then maybe…just maybe we can swap playlists.