For as long as I can remember, I have been called an “old soul.”
Old soul? What does that mean? Does that mean that I’m secretly an old woman trapped in the body of a 21-year-old? I’m not sure, but I’ve always identified as someone who feels out of place in this generation.
I do not share Generation Y’s taste for public displays of lurid dancing, swearing on social media, indulging in recreational drugs at parties and posting it on social media, or listening to the mind-numbing, ear-splitting, homogeneous stew that is popular music nowadays. It is not my greatest desire to get my own reality show on MTV.
Too often, I am labeled and categorized under the same descriptions as my fellow millenials. Because of my age, I am talked down to, treated differently and coddled because that’s what people do to the young people now.
I am not my generation.
I don’t dream about wild parties, “Molly” (which I recently learned is not a woman, but a new version of ecstasy), meeting Miley Cyrus or taking endless “selfies” while scantily clad.
I dream of graduating college, paying off my student loans, starting my career, buying a house, getting a Basset Hound and having two or three children. I dream of making home-cooked meals with my future husband, of family road trips, of painting a nursery. I dream of one day looking at my children and asking them if they’d rather play football, take piano lessons or learn to tap dance. I dream of growing a garden, of building a tree house, of making pillow forts and s’mores with my kids, of investing in a college fund for them.
I will admit that being born at the end of the 20th century has proven to have its perks. I do enjoy the technological conveniences. I have a Facebook, an Instagram account, and I have recently ventured into the Tumblr universe. I have watched way too much television on my Netflix account. I rely on my cellphone and laptop for entertainment too often, send a text when a face-to-face conversation would achieve the same (if not a better) goal, and I enjoy the convenience of accessing virtually all of human knowledge by entering search terms into Google.
But I am not my generation.
I enjoy speaking to my bank teller face-to-face. I believe that courtesy and good manners trump how new your cellphone is or what designer label your clothes have. I think that communication skills are the most important assets a person can possess, so I have devoted three years of my life to becoming a better speaker, a better employee/employer, a better negotiator and writer.
I believe that handwriting is a dying art, but one that’s worth saving. I enjoy the smell of a book and the thrill of continuing an adventure just by turning a page. I strive to understand the art of listening, and to appreciate the value of silence. I know that compassion and empathy will bring you closer to your fellow man.
Unlike many of my fellow millenials, I believe that preparing for the future is essential, that the building blocks of your life include learning to save money, to organize, to plan and to wait until all options have been explored before you make a huge decision.
I believe in commitment and respect. I believe that who you surround yourself with is a reflection of you as a person. I believe in being kind to all people in customer service, being respectful to elders, paying genuine compliments and smiling when I meet a stranger’s eyes while passing them on the sidewalk or in a hallway. I believe in equal pay, equal love, equal rights and equal respect.
Generation Y is under fire the majority of the time for scandals in the media, low test scores or providing the English language with words like “twerk.” We are notoriously awful at math and believe we deserve a trophy just for participating. Instant gratification has become the norm. But there are a handful of traits I’m not ashamed to share with my generation.
I identify with my generation’s undying fight for progressive and positive social change. I identify with my generation’s thirst for equality and innovation.
But I am not my generation.
I do not identify with the attitude, the sense of entitlement and the delicate sense of self-esteem we have grown accustomed to. I do not think that in all cases, there should be “an app for that.”
Not a day goes by that I don’t shake my head at people my own age and wonder what life will be like when we are the only adults left. When it’s time to step up and be responsible, will there be anyone to rely on? I’d like to think so.
Despite all of the heat Generation Y receives for being lazy, disrespectful or ungrateful, there are plenty of millennials out there who are bursting at the seams to change the world.
I’d like to think that there are like-minded young adults that will someday be our leaders, our figureheads and decision-makers. I’d like to believe that when the time comes, Generation Y will look around, see that our parents can’t clean up our messes forever and get our priorities straight.
I know that with each new generation, the older generations assume it’s the worst one yet. I also know that there’s still time to prove that we’re capable of collectively making the world a better place.
Every day, there are young inventors, scientists, teachers, physicians and activists making this generation proud. There are people who transcend the stigma of youth being synonymous with naiveté or incompetence. We are ready to take the reins and show that we are determined, responsible citizens.
We are not our generation.
Take it from an old soul: all is not lost; we’ve only just begun to make our impression on the world.
Tanner Blackton is a newsroom intern at The Daily Citizen.