I love America. It’s so diverse and dripping in opportunity. It’s my home. But the vision I have for my life does not necessarily conform to the dreams generations of Americans had before me. It’s not that I want to throw away the legacy handed down; it’s that I hope to try new paths to success. The story of “The American Dream” has been lived out countless times already. The Millennial generation has been watching; they have read their history textbooks carefully. And we are writing a new type of story. The plot lines are changing, and I am no different.
- I Don’t Want the White Picket Fence
A house, a plot of land, is not a priority for me. It’s simply a tool to provide safety and shelter and a place to gather. I won’t be pouring countless dollars into homes I cannot afford and then upgrading them with money I do not have. This is called “house poor” – wealthy enough to have a beautiful house, but unable to do much else thanks to a hefty mortgage. I’m exchanging “house poor” for “rich in experiences.” My pride does not stem from what I own, but what I do. (This is why tiny houses are all the rage right now. If you haven’t checked them out, you should)
- I Don’t Want to be Married or be a Baby Machine
I like the freedom of being unmarried and childless. I don’t think that’s selfish. I think it’s honest. Being unwed gives me the autonomy I desire (though I’m in a loving, fulfilling, blissful committed relationship); being childless affords me the time I need to accomplish my goals. I like being responsible for only me. It’s no secret that 20-somethings aren’t getting married or having babies as young as those before them. They aren’t rushing into settling down. This shouldn’t be surprising since we’ve seen unsuccessful marriage all around us. As a woman, this is a liberating time where I can choose to put off these traditional roles until later or not even pick them up at all.
- I Don’t Want to Work in an Office
I have been working quite hard to set up a life that I can take ownership of entirely. I will be my own boss, I will set my own hours, and, most importantly, I will work on what I am truly passionate about! Millennials see their parents and the generations before working tirelessly at jobs they don’t necessarily like just to make more money to buy things, things they end up not liking in a few months. We don’t see money bringing happiness. So we are going to try personal fulfillment over monetary success.
- I Don’t Want to Hold on to Antiquated Ideals
Like many of my fellow Millennials, I am quite tired of the same rhetoric. I don’t think gay people are sinful (most Millennials want them to get married). I don’t think pot should be illegal, while problematic narcotics are being shoved down our throats by big pharmaceutical companies. I don’t think big cars are worth dangerous emissions and believe in alternative fuels. I don’t like religious rituals that feel meaningless, but I sure do believe in God and know our spirituality is vitally important. In other words, Millennials are changing thought patterns. We aren’t the first to do that. Each generation has rewritten the story lines and ideals.
- I Don’t Want to Think My Culture Knows Best
Travel is not just about soaking up the sun or staying at a 5-star resort. Travel is about experiencing life from the perspective of a different culture. Eat how they eat, drive like they drive, dress like they dress, pray like they pray. When you travel this way, you begin to realize that your culture is not the only way. It may be a great way. I love so many parts of American culture. But it’s not the only way. 4+5=9. But so does 3+6.
I’m excited to see Millennials grow up, find out what works and what doesn’t. We will have some bumps along the way, and we won’t do everything right. But I believe that change is good and necessary. It’s not a matter of who does it right or wrong, it’s simply about living out a new story. So I’ll trade in the old dream of a White Picket Fence, and take a brand new story instead- maybe an airplane to Africa while working from my laptop and not paying a mortgage or changing diapers.