I wrote a couple of weeks ago about spending time with the Greatest Generation. The group I actually spend the most time with, though, is the Millennial generation. I have heard negative adjectives or descriptors used to describe today’s young adults, but I want to share with you my experience with them.
They are service-minded. I’m sure there were some service projects that took place when I was in college, but I didn’t take part. Nor did my friends. Nor did most of my classmates. Where I am, service projects and outreach are common and the students are the ones who organize these. I have met up with students early on a Saturday morning to drive 3 hours round trip for a project and there was a strong absence of grumbling. No complaints about ‘losing” their Saturday or begrudging participation. There are some projects where there is a wait list because so many want to take part. Now that I think about it, I think the better phrase is “service-hearted”.
They are a team. Whether it’s studying for tests or rallying around someone in need, I get a sense that young adults form natural teams and work well in those teams. I see no indication at all of competition; no “if you win, I lose”. I see people who support their colleagues and celebrate and mourn alongside them in victory and tragedy.
They are creative. So incredibly, wonderfully creative. I don’t know if it’s because there are so many tools to help create videos or put a creative spin on photos, but today’s young adults have such great opportunities to express themselves and they do it beautifully. There are some ways that technology has helped with this, but a lot of the beauty they create is through painting or photography. They see beauty and capture it in ways that make me a joyful patron of their art.
They are entrepreneurial. How many young people do you know who have some sort of side business? In my time, this was a lemonade stand or babysitting gig. Today it can range from marketing talents to providing a service where there is a need. And this entrepreneurial spirit isn’t just limited to something that brings them money. Non-profits, platforms, causes. If there is a passion for something, they won’t let that passion lie dormant until someone else provides a way to express it. They will forge that path themselves.
I am a member of Generation X. My people are known for being sullen and skeptical. There are some negative examples of people from every walk of life, but I don’t think that should sour the good we see today’s young adults doing. Our world desperately needs the hope and connection Millennials model.