Until a month ago or so I’d never given much thought to the term ‘millennial’, not to what nor to who it referred to, and consequentially not to its potential implications for me. Yet in June I learned that I technically fall into this category of ‘millennials’, and that characteristics of this group include a) the desire to change the world, and b) FOMO (fear of missing out) which is resultant in chronic indecisiveness. (Quick disclaimer: I really have not studied millennials so am not going to cover anything except these two qualities in the following mess of thoughts.)
Horrifyingly both these traits rang true to me! I’m a what now?! Heaven forbid I be categorised in some stereotype with others my age! (This is ironic as millennials embrace a fluid approach to identity, meaning they don’t want to be confined to any labels!)
Finding all this out was an awful experience for me. Terrible, tragic, and everything in between. (You can decide based on your personal knowledge of me how much I’m exaggerating here.)
Since, I have mulled over this concept, perusing with my mind both the negatives and positives of being a millennial in regards to the attributes mentioned above; now I have come to the conclusion that, whether for good or bad, we millennials have powerful potential.
First off, I personally prefer the idea of being part of a generation that cares enormously than to its disaffected, apathetic counterpart.
I bet the International Relations, Anthropology and Politics departments worldwide are enjoying us greatly. They must be having a field day with all the excited young applicants they’ve been receiving in the last few years; they certainly won’t be the ones letting these young people know that there aren’t quite enough seats in Parliament for all of their backsides.
At least everyone has an opinion, right? It’s better than a mindless generation, surely?
Maybe not. Especially in the case of this particular group, for: all these millennials, all these loud opinions, are kind of unsure of how to harness their fierce convictions in a way that will truly ‘change the world’. (Leading to some rather unpleasant online explosions, I must say.) The main factor holding people back from getting on with this world renovation they’re so keen for seems to be the fact that they can’t decide how to go about it.
Which route will be the most effective, the most fulfilling?
That is FOMO. Choosing V means getting Z but bypassing Y; choosing X means getting Y but not Z. So, which should I settle for? Why can’t there be an option to get V, X, Y and Z? Oh there is! But then I miss W… etc. etc.
People are paralysed by the prospect of picking one path over another, because they cannot be sure that it is really the best. To amplify the dilemma even more, ‘best’ is extremely subjective to what the individual desires at that time, and I say ‘at that time’ because these desires are subject to change as soon as the individual realises that their choice did not, in fact, fulfil them.
In this world there’s always something missing, something that could be better. It could be as selfish or selfless as imaginable, still there’s always something more you’re reaching for.
I’m aware that I have not yet really said anything positive; let me get to the good bit now.
Yes, I have grown up desiring to make the world better, to change it for good somehow.
Yes, I have fallen into the trap of FOMO more times than I would like to admit; the options and possibilities for someone growing up in the 21st century western world are somewhat overwhelming.
Nevertheless I am not a product of my generation, and I’ll tell you two reasons why.
1) I’ve never thought that I’d change the world in my own strength, and 2) I am now free from FOMO’s death grip, meaning that I will be making decisions (thus enabling me to progress and get on with the process of world changing).
For, my strength comes from the Lord, and I need never fear missing out on anything because I know that nothing on this earth will ever bring me true fulfilment or happiness; my hope and purpose is in God. This is my motivation, my telos, my hope.
If you too are a millennial (and even if you’re not) I’d like to ask: what’s going to fulfil you?