I used to hate millennials

Millennials. A word often spoken with an eye roll, a wave-off of the hand and a general "pfftt" inclination. They're young, dumb and self centered. Also described as spoiled, lazy, self-righteous and entitled. They think the world is their mother-plumbing oyster.

Millennials do what they want, regardless of risk. Those kids (do I sound my age yet?) actually believe they can be something special, make a difference, stay sparkly and have fun with their lives. They don't buy into adulthood the way we did. They didn't hit 22 and realize everything they dreamed of was so very nearly impossible they might as well give up those unreachable dreams and eek out a steady living. They don't find safety in the mundane or security in the known.

You know why we hate them? They embody every sparkling unicorn idea we believed in as children, but learned to cast off as fairy tales when we became overworked life-haters with massive debt and zero fame. Millennials are everything we wanted to be, but gave up, to be regular.

I haven't researched the "why" of this phenomenon. I have no idea what these youngsters are thinking. What happened in their childhood that was so different from ours? What caused this generation to keep the faith and spread the love? I don't know, but I adore them for the lessons they've taught me.

1. You can be/do/see/go any thing/what/where. Part of what makes millennials so peculiar is their ability to blindly step into the dark spaces and find light. They just go for it. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. They don't let the previous misstep hinder the end goal, because walking backwards is often more disastrous than simply walking on.

2. Someday is now. One of my go-to life-sucking decision making skills is, "let's do that another time." Like when there's no war on Earth and planes don't crash and we have more money and my hair is longer. In other words, the dream is bleeding out on our freshly shampooed carpet, and I'm just going to stain-treat the Berber right now. Millennials have hard-wood floors for a reason, people. They're going to take that dream trip to Germany, fears - and rugs - be damned.

3. A person's a person. Okay, maybe this was Dr. Seuss, but millennials have taken action here. They celebrate each other; they walk for each other; they promote the wellness, humanity and differences of friends and strangers alike. I, personally, have never marched for anything aside from potato chips and candy bars at the Kroger. These people will walk for miles in terrible weather, with a handmade glitter sign, for something that does not belong to them in any personal way. They want you to know how special and important you are - maybe because they truly believe in how special and important they are.

4. Happiness first. If you are slightly curmudgeony like me, personal fulfillment takes a back seat to daily routine. You do not put happiness above paying bills or feeding your kids. My favorite millennials don't either, but they do life with joy. I go to work because they pay me to do so, not because I'm living my dream career. I'm not saying millennials never hate their jobs, but they have a habit of making the best of whatever situation they find themselves in.

5. Peace and positivity. Millennials tote self-care like 80's teens smoked Marlboro Lights. Maybe swinging by the gym after work isn't the most fun they can think of, but they know it will help them grow and prepare them for a new day. My personal after-work routine, The Curmudgeon's Delight, consists of shareable sized peanut M&Ms and a large McDonald's Coke... not so much good for my mental or physical well-being.

Contrary to popular belief, millennials are not a group of idiots. Shocking as this may be, they were born with the same brain cells we were. The difference is how they use them. Being a millennial has less to do with the year you were born, and everything to do with your state of mind. We could all take a page from their Twitter feed (is Twitter still cool? I'm not, so this is just a guess).

Embrace your inner unicorn. Govern your dreams with hope over fear. Appreciate other humans. Allow joy in your regular day. Care for yourself.


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