The New Year is almost upon us, and with it comes the traditional declaration of things we resolve to do. And this year, I think it's rather fitting to send out into the universe some New Year's resolutions for younger Millennials from their older Millennial kindred. Perhaps never in our short tenure here on Earth thus far have Millennials been the subject of so much scrutiny than we have this year — blame it on the economy, blame it on the election, blame it on whatever helps you sleep better at night. But the reality is that Millennials are often lumped together anyway, so we may as well stick together when we can. That includes helping each other out with words of encouragement and, yes, even wisdom we older Millennials have picked up along the way.
While it's true there's not a huge span of time separating older Millennials from younger Millennials, we have been around a bit longer — long enough that it can make a difference. We've got a few more battle scars. The birthday candles on our cakes are decidedly more abundant. Just think of us as your older brothers and sisters, passing on some pearls we hope will help you avoid some of the mistakes we've made. Such are the things one dwells on when they are in their early 30s, for better or worse.
So before 2017 gets off to a running start, take a minute to read through the following resolutions we older Millennials might offer you.
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Particularly in the wake of the election, young Millennials were ruthlessly shamed for being devastated by the results. This year, you have been called cry babies for being sensitive. I say to hell with that — be in your feelings when you need to be. The world needs more empathy, not less.
You're still in your 20s, right? If you're planning on having children later on, you may not have them yet. If you're planning on getting married later on, you may not be right now. If you have the opportunity to travel before you plant those kinds of roots (if, in fact, planting those kinds of roots is a thing you want to do), do it. Be a citizen of the world for a while. Live rootlessly. Travel will be one of your greatest teachers in this life, and you may find that trusted adviser is harder to keep counsel with later on down the line.
Oh how I wish somehow had told me this when I was in my 20s. Scratch that — I'm sure someone did. What I really wish is that I'd listened. It's a terribly adult thing to do and doesn't necessarily scream "fun," but your 30-something self will thank you when your nest egg is nice and plump.
Studies show that young Millennials have major anxiety over the state of the economy and the impact it will have on their future. Yes, those are valid concerns. Yes, you should consider them. But try not to let them overwhelm you. Make an actionable plan for your life and focus on that. Your 30s are rife with worry, so there's plenty of time for that yet.
If you feel called to stand on the front lines in protest for an important cause, take that stand. Young Millennials get so much contradictory slack from people. You get painted as lazy and entitled, but when you work hard to champion reform for something you believe in, you're painted as agitators. Ignore those voices, and listen to your own. Those windows of opportunity get smaller as you grow older. In a few short years, you'll look back and wish you had stood on more front lines or marched more streets.
I know you hear this often, and it probably seems trite . . . but take a break from technology every now and then. It's refreshing to be part of a narrative that exists outside the confines of social media every once in awhile. Snapchat and Twitter will still be waiting when you get back. Hey, older Millennials are guilty of this too, so it's on our list of resolutions as well.
There's a fine line between taking risks and behaving recklessly, but try to toe it when you can. Taking risks becomes increasingly complicated when you factor things like a more established career, a growing family, or any one of a huge variety of other considerations into the equation. Whether it's taking a risk at work that could put you ahead of the pack or taking a risk in your personal life that could lead to new adventures, the time for taking smart risks is now.
Hard work does build character. Even if you're already hard at work on something in your world, challenge yourself to take it to the next level. Here's the kicker: This doesn't have to be a traditional job. Blog, take a business class, learn to speak Spanish. If what you're working hard on doesn't look the same as what everyone else is working hard on, don't let anyone tell you that your goal is lesser. It isn't. It's just different.
Oh, dear hearts. How do I put this? You're probably going to fail at a lot of things over the next year (read: decade). They won't all be big things. In fact, they'll likely be a lot of little things, like a string of broken beads. Here's the thing, though: There can't be success without failure, just like there can't be a rainbow without some rain. Try to think of failure as a springboard into your next success. Allow yourself the room to do it.
Sometimes horrible, terrible, no good things happen — see no. 9 — and they are hard to deal with. Give yourself the space to grieve or get angry. Then channel those raw emotions into action and move on to the next thing. One day, you'll wish you had back some of the minutes you spent dwelling on unchangeable outcomes.
Life can be really busy, and it's alarmingly easy to fall into a pattern of putting things — or people — off. The danger, though, lies in taking the invitations (whether it be to a specific event or to be in someone's life) for granted. If you have a legitimate reason to bail on your friend's birthday party, by all means do. They'll understand. But try to say yes more, too.
To be fair, this should be a blanket resolution for, oh you know, the entire world. Kindness matters. Kindness matters. Kindness matters. That can't be stressed enough. This year was tough, and next year is shaping up to be full of tense conversations and hostile interactions, too. To quote Michelle Obama, just remember: "When they go low, we go high." No matter what the outcome, the view's much better from the high road.
Every age demographic is probably guilty of this to an extent, but it merits mentioning since it has become a gosh damn epidemic. Fake news sites are a thing. Right now, there is some guy named Chad sitting in someone's basement in a beanie getting paid to spout off reactionary theories for fake news sites. Do your part to stop the cycle this year, because you're likely to see a whole lotta headlines that are too good (or too bad) to be true.
Listen, it's your feed. I don't care if it's your Great Aunt Lulu or the dude who lives next door, it's your prerogative to unfollow or unfriend people on social media. I am only just now, at 33, realizing how liberating those options can be and that no one can decide when to make that call but me.
Trying to be someone you're not is exhausting. Trying to maintain a facade of perfection is exhausting. Trying to be anyone other than your beautiful, imperfect self is exhausting. Save your energy, kid — you're gonna need it.
Check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App starting on January 1 for daily tips on how to have an empowering 2017.
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