Tuesday, January 31, 2012

It's up to us Millennials...

Given that it is an election year, it seems that politicians generate a good amount of panic about our current situation. It doesn't matter how good, bad, or otherwise the actual standing of the country is, they would have you believe that it appears to be something like this.
The truth is that if you are in my generation (those of us who fall at the end of Gen X, but not quite with what ever these new kids are, then you're a millennial) then you are old enough to realize that the baby boomers, in addition to being the "greatest generation" have also been the most selfish. We're headed straight towards a major meltdown. Before this morning, I had hope that either my generation or the newer generation would have someone who could initiate the massive change that we need to take place in this country.
Looks like it is all up to our generation because the new kids are clueless, pretty self-involved, and generally think that even the most menial accomplishments should be met with great fanfare and applause. How do I know this? Well, as many of you may know, I decided to go back to school to get my English education degree, so that I could then teach high school English. feel free to provide comments below telling me how idiotic I am. I am aware. Taking a speech class was something anyone who's been to college knows about. I'm lucky enough that my first one didn't transfer, so I get double the exposure. I'm one of 4 people in 27 who are older. You can imagine that it's quite odd to have to deal with college kids a decade younger than you. Today, it became even more apparent, just how different of a life they've experienced.
The first order of this class is to give an introductory speech about yourself to the class. 3 minutes. That's it. For that very reason, I chose to omit my story about cancer, plus I didn't wanna bring the room down at 8am on a Tuesday morning. Also, I enjoy talking about it with friends who have questions or want to know how everything is going, but I haven't found a way to convey the message to complete strangers yet. Plus, I didn't want to chance my grade with possibly getting emotional about it. maybe that is what comes with being a bit older, I don't allow you to know everything about me (I do realize the slight irony in writing that sentence on a blog about my life...) unless it seems like its improves us all. What I couldn't figure out was the fact that most of these young kids chose the most horrific stories to recount. I can appreciate them taking the courage to do so, but at the same time, if you can't get through a speech about your life without crying, maybe you're getting a bit too personal. Luckily, I went first, so I didn't have to follow the three speeches after me.
Here they are in exact order. the first girl after me broke down when talking about her mother and growing up in a single parent household. We're talking breaking down to a point where there was a good 20 seconds of that lovely awkward silence you get when no one knows how to react and it would also be impolite to do so. I felt really bad for her, as she had just talked about how good she was at public speaking in the hallway before class. The next girl got up and talked about her young sister having Leukemia (and kicking its ass) and a friend dying of a tumor found in his arm during high school. I felt really bad about this stuff, but also found it awkward. Its really tough being an engaged listener in a class of people you don't know and I found myself dreading what some of these kids would say next. The next guy got up and went through the entirety of his football career up until last year. No seriously, year by year from ages 12-19. After that we had a girl who talked about volunteering (which is great) but she came across as needing everyone's approval that she was a good person because she volunteered. Or perhaps she wanted us to know that she was a good person and it was because of her charity. Either way, it just felt odd. Next was a girl who had her parents split up and then BOTH go through drug abuse issues. Luckily, her mother had been The class ended with a girl who talked about her brother that had cerebral palsy. He died when she was 5 and that made her want to work with kids who had special needs. Again, it was truly sad, but it left people looking around the room to see if anyone else had the proper reaction to this girl crying in the middle of her speech.
While it was all very odd, I don't mean to talk about these kids in a way of making fun of any of their situations. Each one was horrible in their own way (except for the volunteer humble bragger. she sucked) and I'm sure that each part of their respective lives that they talked about did have some bearing on shaping their lives. Where I get aggravated in this class, is that not one of these kids stood up there and gave you 3 minutes of who exactly they were. 75% of them told you some horrible story about themselves or their family, while the other quarter of them listed words or used the word princess repeatedly (it should also be noted that the girl who used the princess moniker for herself, did the entire speech in 3rd person. I imagine she is a giant Kardashian fan...) In the end, it is as if they have allowed these events make them the person they are, which is something I disagree with. Beating cancer did nothing to make me who I am. It's something that happened to me. Did it change my perspective? You bet! However, I don't know that it did anything other than make me aware of who exactly I was. Granted, I have the luxury of 10+ years on these kids, and all the growing up that involves, but I can't help but think that my generation did not ask for the admiration or empathy that these youngsters so desire. It was as if, each one of them wanted you, so badly, to know that life was hard for them.
Generations are different. Inevitably, the time frame you grow up in causes you to behave in one way or the other and shapes who you are. Where I start to realize that seismic shift of the new generation towards selfishness is that most of these kids seem to want to be heard, they want to be affirmed, and they need you to know they're special. It made me hope that somewhere around this country there's a person who's 25-35 that has their shit together enough to make things different. I don't see the next generation doing it, and the boomers have had their run at it.

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