An Open Letter to Millennials from a Gen Xer: You’re Changing the Heart of the World

I asked my mother, a talented, loving and wise Gen Xer, to write a guest post to Millennials.  She ended up writing them a love letter of encouragement, and it couldn’t be better.  Not only do I agree with every single word she wrote, I also think she conveyed herself beautifully and hysterically.  These are vitally important thoughts.  They should be read by Millennials, yes, but they should also be read by all.  ~Tay



There seems to be a human condition that I’ll wager dates back to the first and second generations of human life. It is that dreadful sense of knowing that the generation following yours is clearly insane and headed for catastrophic self-destruction. Did the first generation of cave dwellers wonder why the second insisted on wearing their animal skins so short, piercing their noses with bones, and filling their bellies with plants and seeds rather than the good, iron-rich wooly mammoth meat their fathers worked so hard to bring home?

The Silent Generation (born 1925-1945) thought the devil himself had entered their living rooms via their television sets when Elvis swiveled his pelvis while singing (gasp) rock-n-roll on live TV. Later, that rockin’ generation, The Boomers (born 1945-1964), couldn’t understand where they had gone wrong when their sons had long hair, their daughters had short skirts, and young folks were protesting all kinds of things that had just been accepted as “the way things are” up until that point.

The Boomers rolled their eyes and gnashed their teeth at the next generation – my generation – Gen-X (born 1965-1980). We were hard rockers in leather and ripped jeans, or punk rockers sporting our totally awesome purple mohawks. What’s a parent to do? My generation, in turn, gave birth to you Millennials, as well as the following sentences, “Can’t you put down that damn iPhone?” and “Get away from that video game and go outside to play!”

Each generation has its share of amazing, world-enhancing individuals, as well as a good number of people enrolled full-time at the University of Learn Things the Hard Way. Yours is no different. Even so, I see you Millennials – as a whole – as bright and shining stars. Truly. Yours may well be the first generation that will eventually be carved into history as The Generation Who Most Radically Changed The Heart Of The World For The Better. That’s a bold claim, but I like the way you’re living.

From front row seats in your living rooms, you were there to witness your parents battling valiantly to be and do all the things we felt the society of our own making expected of us. Too often, you saw us voluntarily sacrifice opportunities for exciting life experiences, and sometimes even our own families, in order to work senselessly long hours at jobs we hated just to purchase bigger houses and snazzier cars, and overstock our IRAs and mutual funds.   You watched that battle destroy too many of us with stress-induced illnesses, fractured relationships, prescription addiction, and lack of self-care but plenty of self-loathing. You experienced your own stress as we maxed-out your childhood schedules with anything we felt would help you become adults who were our idea of successful.

And you found a better way.


Life will tell you often enough that you’re screwing up. From my perspective as one who is older and supposedly wiser (stop laughing!), I want to share with you a few of the ways I think you’re getting it right. And I think your greatness – yes, greatness – comes from a combination of being wise enough not to repeat your parents’ mistakes, and courageous, creative, and honest enough to lead your own life rather than the life others may expect of you.

1. I see you choosing careers consistent with your dreams, passions, talents and personal values – even if they may never become the jobs that let you overstock fragile bank accounts. And if that job does not exist, you create it!

2. I see you understanding the importance of self-care. You’re in yoga class and running 5Ks. You’re eating clean and taking time to relax. You’re researching ways to be physically and mentally healthy, and then you’re actually putting your research into practice!

3. I see you preparing for your future while living fully in the present. Not seeking grander things at the expense of sacrificing relationships and experiences. Living your day-to-day lives modestly so you have the time and money to pursue the adventures you cherish!

4. I see you making a priority of experiencing cultures other than your own, so you may love instead of hate, understand rather than judge.

5. I see you using your time, energy and gifts to battle for the underdog. To speak for those who have no voice. To be kind and beautiful. And I think the future is safe in your hands.

I see you, Millennials, and I believe you’re changing the heart of our world. You’re fresh perspectives on a meaningful life are intriguing. You inspire me to live wiser, fuller, kinder, bolder, more purposefully and certainly more honestly.

I see you, Millennials. And I have great faith in you.


Image via Flickr

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