Growing Up Millennial

“Wanna bet?”

Growing up my dad was always betting with me. We would bet on traffic times, gas costs, anything really. Our competitive nature loved to see who would win and it was in good fun.

I always lost the bets.

Which makes sense. I grew up under the impression that life was a game of wins and losses, that someone was always betting against me. I needed to prove I was right if I wanted to be heard, valued, and respected.

Until quite recently I believed the world was betting against me.

I thought the people around me were setting me up for failure. I thought I needed to hedge my bets, play it safe, and do my research before I could make a move. I wanted to plan everything perfectly so I wouldn’t lose the cosmic bet against the universe or against God. It made me really defensive and when things didn’t go my way I felt as though I had lost yet another bet. And when you think you’re always losing you start to shame yourself into thinking you’re a loser. Which is a pretty lousy way of thinking.

I think a lot of millennials feel like people are betting against them.

Each generation looks with great hope towards those who come after them. As children we hold so much promise to right the wrongs of the past, to make a difference, to really make the world a better place. We represent change, hope, and renewal.

But somewhere along the lines the generation above us realizes with change and potential comes differences. And differences cause conflict. Conflict isn’t fun. The very generation that once held so much hope turns into the people to blame, to bet against. There’s a lot of blame-shifting happening between our predecessors and our peers.

If we want the world to be a better place, and I think both generations genuinely do, then we’re going to have to make some changes.

What would it look like to teach each other instead of bet against each other?

To the generation above us- if you keep reaffirming how selfish, lazy, unintelligent, narcissistic, and helpless we are then eventually it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Rather than reminding us of our flaws and failures, what would it look like for you to teach us and set us up for success? You need us to be different and to really work towards renewal, but we cannot do it alone. We need the wisdom and advice of our predecessors to guide us. We want to learn from your mistakes and from your successes.

We need you to take us under your wing instead of clipping ours.

We need to know you’re betting on us instead of against us. I think, ultimately, you desire for us to win. You want us to be successful. Instead of just telling us we’re wrong, that you win and we lose, maybe it’s time to tell us how you got the answers. Point us in the right direction. Impart your knowledge on us so that we can learn how to win too. There’s more than enough time, energy, knowledge, and advice to go around. It’s time to start operating out of an abundance mentality rather than a scarcity mindset.

To the millennials- we must have a teachable spirit. It’s easy to feel like we’re being bet against and I know that’s not the most encouraging. But we start to get defensive, isolated, and self-reliant. It makes us unwilling to accept criticism, whether constructive or not. Our defensive nature keeps us from a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that we’re dying to dive into. True, there are some unhealthy things about us. But we also have a lot to offer too. Those above us need to learn from us as well. We’re not as scary and hopeless as they lead to believe. We’re also not as awesome and innovative as we like to think.

If we want to help change the world we’re going to need older people to help us change ourselves. Our perspective is infinitely limited if it doesn’t include the diversity of age. Yes, for the record diversity doesn’t just refer to race. We’re going to need a wide variety of people to help us along the way. Old isn’t always bad. Traditions tend to offer freedom and space for long-term creativity.

Maybe it’s time we started asking for help from someone other than Siri.

I think we’re starting to see that the Internet won’t save us. Google can’t offer the best advice. But people and relationships can grow us.

What would the world look like if we stopped complaining about each other and started creating with one another?

Because being an adult isn’t about having all the right answers. Being an adult is about asking a lot of questions.

As it turns out, none of us know everything but together we all know something. That’s a good place to start. To know that we cannot know it all, we cannot always win the bet, but together we can learn how to win a little more. At the end of the day we’re all doing the best where we are with what we have. To assume the best about each other rather than the worst might be the very renewal and grace we’re all longing to see in the world.

So to the “old people”- who are you taking under your wing? Who are you teaching, inspiring, and motivating? Who are you passing your wisdom along to? It would be a terrible thing to hoard it and wonder why the generation after you never learned from your mistakes.

And to the “millennials”- who are you asking for help? Who are your points on the horizon and are you spending quality time with them? Do you have a teachable spirit? Are you willing to submit (yikes) to a little authority now for some long-term growth and change?

I bet if we stop betting against each other and start teaching one another we both might win after all.