I’ve Got This
In my senior year of high school, I was ready. I was eager to take my life by the tail, swing it around my head and send it sailing into the stars. I wanted to move on and live REAL life, as an adult. I was ready to prove to myself and others that I knew exactly how the hell to do it. And I was going to enjoy adulthood at an early age. None of this mid-life success bullshit. In fact, I think even told my equally hubristic friend that I hoped I would never get old. “I hope I am in a train accident before I get that old and crotchety,” was the gist of my comment. “I’ve got this!”
Three facts are glaringly obvious, when I look back at my misguided, opinionated younger self. 1) I had never lived through the trauma of losing someone at an early age. 2) I hadn’t taken the time to fully appreciate the lessons that my parents, teachers and adults in my life had been trying to share. And 3) I clearly, was far from “Got This” status.
Now, at 51 years old, I look back and belly laugh at my naivete…my arrogance…my ambitious youth. Then I remind myself, at the age of 17, I was the smartest I had ever been in my entire life. Read that again. I was the smartest I had ever been, up until that exact time. I was more worldly, than I was at 15. I had more education than I did at 6. My vocabulary was the best it had ever been. I certainly had a body that said I was a grown up (well, perhaps that’s a stretch…at least compared to all the curvy and voluptuous senior girls). Still, I was ready, in my own estimation, based on all the experiences I had at my disposal. I was an adult.
I sometimes need to reconnect with that young woman, in the midst of my own parenting and adulting life. I want so badly for the young people I love to understand that this is just a stage. That the bold confidence and the unquestioned knowing that seems so natural can be as fleeting as the challenges and angst that they undoubtedly feel as they make their way in the world. I stop and tell myself a little story of my own first date, first job, first apartment, first car accident. This reminiscence helps to ground me in today and reassure me that today’s youth (my own kids in particular) will be ok.
Sure, the world is different now. In fact, it’s changing even more rapidly than back ‘in my day’ (Did I really just use that phrase?), but millennials are not ill-equipped for what’s ahead. This generation is as capable as we ever were. I was recently chatting with a friend and he said, “Lisa, we will never be able to embrace the technological changes completely, because we are old school. We will always think of work as something we do with our hands. We will always see learning as bookwork. We will always believe business is done face to face.” He was so right. The next generation thinks differently than we do, and yet we want them to learn from our experiences.
Embracing the Next Generation
So let’s look at this from the mature and caring adult’s perspective. “If they would only listen, they wouldn’t have to go through all the shitty stuff I did. They could save themselves all that stress and additional time trying to find success and fulfillment.” In millennial-speak, “Look bro, here’s a couple of life hacks that could make you happier, faster.”
And if we think of things from a more youthful perspective, “Wait…Are you telling me how to live my life based on what you did back when you wore bell-bottoms and listened to disco on cassette tapes? Um, thanks, but I’ve got this.” So, to you young smarty-pants, whipper-snappers with all the answers. We love you. We want life to be easier for you than it was for us. We see things moving faster than the bullet train through China, and these changes aren’t always for the better. This fact shit scares us. Not for our sake, but for yours. There’s something to be learned from our “old school mentality” and we want you to take the best of what we have to share, so that you can live better. Take our work ethic, our tenacity, our respect for our elders. Take our commitment to community and our jobs. Use your fast paced, tech based social networks and global economy to get what you really want out of life. But don’t forget the power of human interaction, the beauty and bliss of untouched nature, the joy of laughing out loud with people that matter. Trust that we are trying to help, in the best way we know how. We love you. We believe in you and we have faith that you will succeed, at whatever you do. Keep going. Keep learning. We’ve got your back.