Bad Reputation – A Millennial on Other Millennials

We are often told to be a certain way when we grow up. We have to follow these rules, written and unspoken. These rules change depending on things like whom we are speaking to, where we are, and what message we are trying to get across. Of course, there is so much more to it than just those things. So often we struggle with the way we are supposed to act. As much as we insist otherwise, what people think of us defines who we are. You could say “I don’t care what other people think about me” as much as you want, but it does not change the fact that you are still aware of what they think about you–it all maters in the grand scheme of things. It is whether or not you let it control you.

We, as human beings, grow and learn with time. We are nurtured into the people we are now, but most of us are still growing and learning. I sure still am. When we are young, we do not have a good grasp on the things we should and should not say. Children are notorious for speaking the inappropriate truth–as are drunk people. As we mature, we learn to be more respectful of things like Grice’s Maxims, quality, relevance, quantity, and manner of language (thanks, Engl 290). We know not to ask how old people are. We know not to ask about weight or income. Sometimes, it is not proper to ask what someone does for a living. We know not to disrespect our elders.

We are known as the Millennials. That comes with various connotations depending on who you talk to. Some find us lazy and looking for a handout. Others see us as the great future of our world, that we can save it from the Baby Boomers and whatnot. I see us from both sides. Recently, California has been working on a piece of legislature that says students do not actually have to pass high school to receive their diploma. Bernie Sanders wants to make college tuition free. Trump wants to build a wall to keep illegals out. I will not tell you how I feel about these things because I want to keep things neutral, and the ballot is private for a reason. Plus, nothing I saw would change your mind about these issues and vice versa. But it does not matter what we think of these notions because they are out there, and people from all sides are going to fight to the death to have what they want.

In my AP US History class junior year of high school, when we wrote essays (known as FRQs aka Free Response Questions or DBQs aka Data Based Questions), my teacher taught us that an easy way to present our ideas was to split our paragraphs up into three groups: political, social, and economical. Because don’t like to conform to what other people want from me, I always kind of shook off this notion. However, it made for an easier A and he did not usually like my train of though, so I often gave in. I have learned that it is my creative writer mind that gets my into trouble with essays. That is still true today in my second year of college…and I am an English major.

One of the reasons I did not particularly like this “PSE” template was that I saw politics in everything. It was on every level, not just the government. There are social politics and economic politics. Capitalism, Socialism, Communism. Those do not just include the governments but also the economics and social aspects. This multi-level ideal made it hard for me to try and group my thoughts into three specific boxes.

Call it my capacity of empathy–which I have found is my number one strength, according to a questionnaire I took during orientation–but I see things from so many different angles and on so many different levels. It is difficult for me to fully side with an argument because I can delve into every facet of it. From what I have observed in the rallies on campus, videos of political candidates, acquaintances on Facebook, etc, people see things from one angle. They immediately deem any variation of opposition (and even at a compromise) wrong. They believe what they believe, and everyone who does not agree can go suck it. This often leads me to hate campaign season because people preach and expect to be well received. I try to ignore it and gather information on my own. I try to look at all candidates and their views and plans because I know not to take things at face value.

It goes back to the rules of growing up. We are raised a certain way to believe what our parents believe. I happen to side with my parents on nearly everything in terms of politics, economics, society, etc. But just nearly. I have learned to look for more. And the world I live in leads me to naturally look at things differently. But my parents taught me how to be a good person. They taught me how to treat others and how to be successful. Of course, all of these are by their standards, but I agree with them. Is it indoctrination? Well, yeah. But it it what I believe. And nobody, especially someone my own age, is going to teach me otherwise. I hold true to the values, morals, and standards my parents set for me growing up, and I have made my own along the way. The “PSE” diversity I have lived with has taught me a few things.

So what is the point?

The point is that yes, Millennials are different. We grow up and we learn to break rules, to make mistakes, to violate “norms” set up by society. And we do these things despite what others think of us. We voice our opinions regardless of the differing opinions of others. We try not to let society define us–even though technically it always will. Nobody is going to make decisions for us. We are an incredibly diverse group of people by our political views, religious affiliations, sexuality, desires, attitudes. We are not the same, despite people stereotyping us into a few boxes. Our stereotype is breaking stereotypes.

Aaaaand I am rambling again. Okay, I will stop now.

But go break some stereotypes today. Go hug a tree, that is pretty unexpected. Buy some tea if you are a coffee person. Go introduce yourself to someone you would not normally associate with (and if you guys don’t have anything in common, oh well, you tried).

Do something great. Be someone great.

-Ash

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