In defense of differences
It happened so fast that I didn’t even have time to be offended. Sometime last year a woman old enough to be my mother told me, with so much derision and disgust in her voice, that I was “such a millennial” and that I shouldn’t be—in effect implying that there is something wrong about my generation.
Now what did I do? I only took to Facebook to air my frustrations and genuine emotions on a situation that I felt strongly about. This was her response: “In my time, we kept our opinions to ourselves, not shout it out to the world hoping someone will take notice of us. You millennials lack discipline!”
I did not take the comment to heart, because really, I knew in my heart that I may not be perfect but I had enough discipline in me to put myself through college while supporting my family. Did I care about what some woman thought of me? Certainly not. Not someone who belittled others so unsparingly. And back then I thought: Why care about something that wasn’t true?
Little did I know that in the year 2016, everything we ever knew about ourselves, the people around us, and this country would change so drastically.
So time passed and one day, I woke up to a world where more and more of the older generation had developed the habit of picking millennials apart. The hatred toward us was appalling. Many ridiculed our stance on issues they thought were solely their own. We weren’t born yet then, they said. Some wished that we would come to our senses and retreat from the “evil lures” of social media. Where is our propriety? they said. Some wanted us to stop chasing our passions and focus on what’s important. Find a stable job, they said.
Suddenly, I was just this millennial. And suddenly, I was trouble.
To many of the older ones, millennials are the problem generation. Millennials are the young, misguided, improper members of society obsessed with broadcasting our lives on social media, aimlessly traveling from one place to another, with absolutely no regard for savings, and with the tendency to resign from perfectly good jobs just because we feel like doing so.
“You have to prove yourself first to us. You millennials are always so self-entitled.” A baby boomer once told me that, looking at me with disdain, right after I got a promotion in our company. And I thought to myself, What was she talking about? Were the endless hours not enough? The various projects and campaigns that I ran were not enough proof of my capacity? Was our mutual boss’ stamp of approval not sufficient?
I thought about the devotion I nursed and the sacrifices I made not just for the job but also for my belief in what I was doing. Was I automatically undeserving because of my age and the generation to which I belong?
Many millennials now find themselves in a world that constantly judges them. It’s a world that seemingly wants them to fail. And it’s a world I constantly deny, every waking hour, when I go to work or to school. A generation does not define anyone. The quirks of our age are not connected to how well or how badly we will turn out. We are just profoundly different from other generations, too different for their comfort, and that’s that. What makes us different does not make us any less than any other age.
Taking selfies doesn’t mean we are self-obsessed. Posting our lives on Facebook doesn’t mean we don’t value our privacy. Supporting gay rights doesn’t mean we lack morals. Protesting the hero’s burial of a dictator who ruled during a time beyond us doesn’t mean we have no mind of our own. Traveling the world and having no savings don’t mean we are not responsible. Following our passions doesn’t mean we are unstable.
Millennials aren’t that different from other generations. We were just born in a different era with different circumstances. It’s an era where self-respect and love have taken more pronounced forms. Where privacy has gotten more flexibility. Where morality has become more inclusive than ever before. Where inaction has become the greater sin and patriotism every citizen’s duty. Where being responsible is more about being honest to oneself and less about what society would think. Where stability is about true happiness that only comes from within.
I am happy to be a millennial. I am growing up in a world which constantly teaches me that we no longer have to stay in a box in which other generations are trapped. We have greater freedom and courage to take leaps and bounds in our lives. We have the ability to look back and learn and not repeat mistakes because we can see clearly and our view is unobstructed. The opportunities that are at our disposal are endless and we are not afraid to use them. And we are more honest and open than any other age, and brave enough to listen to our heart and follow it.
Millennials don’t deserve to be judged so lightly. And in these trying times, I only hope that others of my generation will continue to soldier on with the conviction to live as they choose to, as a millennial in a world that needs the type of light and courage only a true millennial can bring.
Patrixia Sherly D. Santos, 24, is in her fifth year at the UP College of Law and is the chief of staff of a party-list representative at the House.
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