The Millennials in my life? I love them! The two I adore most may be my sons, but they aren’t the only ones that make me grin. Their friends are just as much of a pleasure to be around, brimming with curiosity, enthusiasm, and entertaining stories.
And if the 20-somethings I’ve known since they were kids aren’t in the vicinity — it isn’t the holidays after all, when most return to the parental nest — I try to engage others of their age whenever I can.
Besides… Energy, enthusiasm, and their “why not” approach are contagious. A 24-year-old is still close enough to college years to be thinking outside the box, still in semi-party mode, and looking at life as a ginormous adventure. And I say that even if those 20-somethings are still seeking full-time employment, or working odds and ends of part-time jobs.
Naturally, like so many of their generation, interim ways to pocket a few bucks are temporary until they can find more satisfying work that aligns with their studies, and with the future they hope to create.
Solidarity in Employment Challenges
Care for a little story?
At the December holidays, several of my sons’ friends routinely gathered chez nous in the evening. Conversation flowed and the topics discussed were extensive. To my initial surprise, the views of a 22-year-old and a 52-year-old may not be so different, especially as concerns the job market and the economy.
In fact, I found myself nodding as one of these creative young adults was talking about taking every freelance gig he could to cover expenses, no longer able to take advantage of a parent’s healthcare options, and mired in the frustrations of trying to pursue work in piecemeal fashion.
And despite a four-year degree from a terrific school and the fire in his belly to achieve, he was struggling not to lose heart.
Other energizing elements of interaction with Millennials, at least for me?
Creatives love other creatives — the juice flows! “Idea” people thrive on brainstorming, and on sharing tales of innovation and invention. Discussions on apps and social media are exhilarating. Sharing thoughts on music and the arts — an education. Politics? We of “earlier” generations can offer insight and context in tangible ways from which our younger generation can gain in understanding of issues and impacts. Still, you may discover that you’re more in sync than some might imagine.
Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of several conversations with another friend of one of my sons. He’s smart, considerate, interesting, and relaxing in his demeanor. When opportunities present themselves, I think we both learn from our discussions, and I find myself extremely upbeat in their wake, encouraged by the thoughtful intelligence with which he expresses his impressions of the world around him.
Older, and… Assumptions Abound
These may be less impacted by actual age than we conclude, and personally, I would dispute the assumption that when you’re older you’re less creative and less innovative. What you might be is more conservative in what you pitch for practical reasons.
For example, you’re in a position of “been there, tried that” by virtue of experience. And, most of us eventually master the definition of crazy as follows: Crazy is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.
Consequently, if we know with certainty that a behavior, method or business idea absolutely will not work, we don’t repeat it. Then again, what is crazy (or unsuccessful) at one point in time with one team, one market, or one individual is no longer crazy as circumstances change.
My marvelous Millennial sons and friends?
I love hanging with them when they allow. I love when they drop in. I love listening to their laughter. I love the way thinking outside the box comes so easily. I love the way they roll their eyes when I say “huh?” to some reference that leaves me clueless but amused. And I find myself wishing American society encouraged more multi-generational contact at work and at play. Not only are these impromptu or intentional collaborations wildly productive and energizing, but they’re Just. Plain. Fun.
When is the last time you had a cup of coffee with a 24 or 25-year-old — and let them talk? When is the last time you did so and asked questions about their interests and experience in world?
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