Millennials’ formative years were shaped by an aura of unpredictability. Their parents were hard workers, who unexpectedly were subject to layoffs in the recession. Many had a friend or a loved one who never returned home on 9/11. As teenagers they grew up believing they could be anyone they wanted, but in reality were left with meager job options after obtaining their bachelor’s degree. All of this resulted in a mistrust of what awaited tomorrow. Teenagers began uttering the pop culture phrase “YOLO”, which stands for “You Only Live Once”. Experience taught them to live in the moment, because that was the only thing you could count on. An increasing number of Millennials began believing that planning for the future was not just considered to be depressing, but futile.
Furthermore, the era of instant gratification, discouraged patience and long-term goals. No one has to wait to communicate with a loved one, since its simple to send an unobtrusive text message. People don’t have to wait to get their images developed when they can quickly just make a post on social media and get instant feedback. There is no longer a need to go to the library to view an encyclopedia, when any question could be answered on Google. The rapid speed of communication in our culture makes it very gratifying to live in the present. One is never alone in the same way they were before the Internet. If one experiences discontent today, they have the ability to reach out to others, in a manner that was never possible in the past.
There is no silence today. Everywhere we go, technology is inundating us with constant information. Besides a few minutes a day in the shower, when is one completely uninterrupted with their thoughts and relatively low outside stimulus? Constantly being bombarded with communications, and the increasing difficulty of being alone with one’s thoughts, has made planning one’s own future and dreams more challenging. How can one worry about where they want to be at 40 years old when they are unsure where they want to have lunch tomorrow? The infinite possibilities that accompany technology open great opportunities, but can also be accompanied by great stress and indecision. Millennials often have difficulty coping from youth’s instant gratification to the delayed joys that come with adulthood.
While generational predecessors at the age of 25, were busy getting married and raising children, many of the 25 year olds today have just completed their Masters, have not yet found the job that they will call a career, and a great deal still live with their parents. Adulthood has been delayed, and often times, for good reason. The problem is that in the past 25 years old was considered the beginning of the adulthood; today it is a desperate cry for the end of youth. Many are resisting the reality that each day is one step closer to 30 and that even our current permissive society is looking at them with greater expectations of independence as each year passes.
There are two paths that can be taken. The first, which is ideal, is to accept and welcome adulthood and all of its benefits. These folks will make responsible choices that will help them build the foundation to a successful future. They will cut out any toxic and irresponsible people from their lives. They will keep tight schedules and records. Furthermore, their daily life is devoted to bettering their future. They know that the best of times are still to come. The other path is to cling on to youth at all costs by having a quarter life crises. This group will ask their parents to borrow the car, to head to the local bar for some shots with their old high school friends. These guys are saving up for their next tattoo and a set of rims. They are in a bad mood because their iTunes gift card from Christmas just ran out and that they have to get up early for work at their retail job on Monday. Those going through a quarter life crises often avoid making any important decisions whatsoever. They don’t want others to know they are capable of doing so. Rather, they’ll focus their energies on planning their next crazy stunt, like a trip to Vegas or skydiving.
The good news is that this is just a phase. At least, it is for most of us. Some people will make their last grasp for youth at 18 some will do so at 30. The point is that the crises itself is not unhealthy. It helps us work through and cope with the difficult realization of transitioning into adulthood. By embracing YOLO for a short period of time, maybe a week or up to a year, one can get it out of their system. They can move onto adulthood with no regrets. They can embrace their youth as well as their future. Ironically those who are of concern are those who have no interest in clinging to their youth whatsoever. They are either trying to escape traumatic memories from the past or do not even see the faintest light of adulthood around the bend. Very few of us went from viewing ourselves from young adults to actual adults in a single day. It takes time and it's a psychological process. The denial of adulthood is perfectly acceptable so long as it is for a short window of time. Often times those who are catapulted into adulthood without the opportunity to act out in some way, have deep regrets and resentment issues as adults. So in conclusion, you only live once, but know that planning for tomorrow will never take away the joy of living for today.