Let’s start with something positive (not that this post will be negative, but you know…) Congratulations on completing the London Marathon! I’ll probably never do this. I could pretend it’s because I’m busy at work, or otherwise occupied, but the truth is, that is part of my “Lazy Millennial” quota. Mother does not play that, so perhaps you’ve already beaten me at life before my whiney open letter has begun. Seriously though, that is an awesome achievement, and your articles on that were great fun to read.
I’m actually writing, as you may have guessed, by my obnoxious pink online presence, in regards to your piece in The Metro about Millennials and Unicorns.
I love unicorns, and I’m over 13. I’m not going to sit here and tell you I don’t care what you think, because I obviously care enough to write a blog post, but I do hope you’ll reconsider considering me infantile, due to this choice.
I mean, if you don’t, I won’t be crying into my Spider-Man spaghetti, but it would be nice.
I will start by being pedantic, and saying that as an adult, I can decide what is for kids and what is for me, and that I’m saying unicorns for everyone.
Okay, now imagine I’m poking my tongue out at you.
Go on, I’ll wait.
Okay, I’m done being intolerable and I’m going to talk seriously now. Let’s continue.
If my parent’s were honest, they’d say they found the beginnings of adult life difficult, and that the struggle never really goes away. I completely respect that. As it all turns out, being alive is actually quite hard, and the adult thing to do, is to be honest, at least with yourself, and find ways to deal with that.
You mentioned in your article that some members of older generations would manage the struggles of adulthood with drugs and alcohol, and while I respect their right to do so, if they really must, it isn’t for me. To be real, the NHS is in a bad state, and I’m not out here trying to make it worse by taking up their time with something self inflicted that could have been avoided by managing my stress in another way.
It’s all well and good to say that taking it easy and just having a drink or two to take the edge off is a harmless coping strategy, but high levels of stress can leave people susceptible to falling into bad habits with drinking, so it doesn’t seem a logical way to deal with stress and pressure, if you ask me (I’m aware that you didn’t.. also, is it still mansplaining if we’re both women?) because it can be a slippery slope, and I don’t own any shoes that are practical for regular ground, let alone slopes that are slippery.
Also, just to be pedantic again, but many under 25’s are not entitled to the national living wage, and many employers are unwilling to reward equal work with equal pay for all ages of staff, so some can’t afford drink and drugs whenever life gets too much anyway, even if they don’t intend to binge.
So, that’s drugs and drink out the window, so where do I go from there? I could take up some kind of sport, I guess, but I’ve never been the competitive type (I’m a Guardian reading pacifist, unfortunately), and I also have no actual skill in that department, so I honestly feel I’d be wasting everyone’s time and energy, and it would conjure too many unfortunate PE related memories for my fragile little mind to manage.
I could list off another bunch of hypothetical stress relievers here that I don’t want to do, but I’ll just tell you the things I do do (insert infantile, unicorn themed giggle here) to escape from reality.
For a start, I write. Maybe not well, maybe not in a way everyone likes, maybe in a way that some find troubling or problematic, but I do it, and I have a good time.
I also enjoy fun, cute stuff, because, to be ridiculously dramatic (I have a GCSE in drama and I’m not about to waste it), the world is pretty grim, and occasionally I want to brighten it up a little.
The key point is, however, that while I do spend my spare time writing soppy love poetry, with a unicorn pen (occasionally crayons), I’m still a hard working, well adjusted person who has earned the right to do it.
I’m still engaged in the world around me (yes, even when I’m “Always on that phone” as my dear Abuela says), I am still realistic about the path my life will take, and the way the world works, and have faced up to the lowered expectations of what I thought life could be, and am getting on with making the best of what I have. If I choose to do all that while sipping on a unicorn drink, does it make these things less valid?
Am I a little bit silly sometimes? Of course, but I’m an adult when it counts. Spending a few minutes of downtime drinking something cute, or listening to a Disney playlist gives the quick break I need so I can get back to taking on the world, and dealing with the real issues in my life, such as my absurd excuse for a sleep pattern, my high pressure job, and my quest to reach my 80’s without thinking I wasted time stifling the parts of me that other people thought weren’t appropriate anymore .
Liking pretty, glittery things hasn’t drastically impacted on my ability to function as an adult, or diminished my achievements and skills in the eyes of the other adults around me, because the past, as brightly as I was dressed during most of it, has still constructed a resilient and capable young woman, and that doesn’t disappear when I sit down to watch a cartoon, or dye my hair pink.
I’ve survived the crushing disappointment of gaining a degree and finding no jobs waiting for me, the rejection letters and self doubt that came with it, the sadness of having to lower my expectations in regards to my childhood dreams of a big house, with a garden and a pool, and the sadness of lowering them again, because a decent, reasonably priced one bedroom flat with some heating and maybe a good sized bathroom is also unrealistic these days. I’ve faced wage gaps due to my age and gender, a Tory government, racism, Brexit, Steps splitting up, violence in relationships, bereavement, and so many other difficult things, and I’m still here. Glittery, defiant and annoying as hell, I’m sure, but I’m still here.
I am prepared to take on the adult world, to make tough decisions, struggle through hard times, and then struggle some more, I just choose to do it with pink nail varnish on.
The fact is, millennials are nothing if not resilient. We’re still here. We are still working on making careers for ourselves, and utilising the technology that many say we are addicted to, to find new ways of making money and finding sustainable and secure work. We are utilising social media as an additional tool to present ourselves and to learn more about the world around us, as well as to connect with those we care for, when we can’t be close to them.
I’ve seen millennials start their own businesses to create changes they want to see in the world, I’ve seen them embrace science and technology to create solutions to problems that they face. Millennials are opening their minds to new possibilities in what society can be, and are embracing the differences in the people around them. Millennials are politically engaged and aware of what is unfolding around them. Is it really fair to invalidate all this because they don’t adopt the typical adult aesthetic?
You could argue that being enthusiastic about fun, colourful things is infantile, but surely the entire sum of someone’s actions means more than just a few parts, no matter how brightly coloured they are?
We have grown up. We are here, in the adult world, doing adult things. To say that this is erased simply because someone older than us can’t see past what mug we drink from, or what coffee we order, says more about their own maturity than it does ours, right? Millennials have more than proven they can hang with the rest of the adults, and we have earned our stripes, and have a right to paint them rainbow if we want to.
Wishing you nothing but the best, in monochrome if you prefer,
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