"Dear Millennials," she begins. If you're like me, you start to groan any time you see these words begin a paragraph on social media. "I'm a Black female Gen X lady. Old enough to be your damn Mama. I have a little advice," the Twitter user Tangela Ekhoff continues in her tweet that is to be the first in a series listing advice for young adults who make up the Millennial generation. According to The Atlantic, Millennials are anyone born between 1982 and 2004. Born in '88, that puts me smack-dab in the middle of Millennial territory, so I'm getting ready to hear how entitled, lazy, and uninspired I am like so many Gen Xers have insisted before.
Tim Gunner, for instance, an Australian property mogul, had a message for Millennials in which he implied avocado toast and coffee were the reasons why our generation is not known for owning property and having healthy savings accounts. ""When I was trying to buy my first home," Gunner said according to 9 News Australia, "I wasn't buying smashed avocado for $19 and four coffees at $4 each." Ekhoff has an entirely different message in her tweets, however, instructing Millennials to "Eat the avocado toast. Travel to new places. Go back to school. Never, ever listen to people who envy your youth and freedom."
It's refreshing to see someone encourage Millennials to live for themselves for once, rather than live to meet the expectations laid out by the generations before them. Eckhoff adds, on the subject of owning property, "It's a big world out there waiting for you to explore it. Home ownership is great, but it ain't all that."
So if not owning property, a significant marker for success in past generations, what does she think Millennials should be aiming toward? Her advice continues with her personal experience, explaining that "as my years advance, and mortality stares me in the face, I can say that EXPERIENCES, FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY…. Either biologically or through your own choice is all that matters. Go. Do. Be. Your life should be about the verbs." It turns out that this "black female Gen X lady" seems to truly understand the spirit of young adults today. While previous generations were often focused on ownership and settling down, Millennials appear to revel in the action, the doing, the experiences of life. As a whole, we'd rather be in motion and fluid, and our goals are to work hard in order to have big experiences, rather than to own big things. One is not inherently better than the other, but so often we see older people judge future generations through their own lens rather than by looking at the world through the eyes of the people they're observing.
"Most of the folk who make money writing about you don't understand you," Ekhoff continues. "They envy you. The menfolk especially," and maybe she has a point. It's easy to see how someone who buckled down early in life and measures success by the number of bedrooms they they own might be envious of the youth traveling the world and bouncing around from experience to fantastic new experience. It also might be mind-boggling for some to hear that these younger adults aren't saving or even planning to buy a house, because for some people in the generations before us, that's the whole point of adulthood. But Millennials are defining adulthood in their own way. Generation X seems to forget that when they were coming into their own, they did the same thing, with their parents and their grandparents admonishing their generation just a vehemently. And we'll do it too, when we're older, unless we learn to measure the achievements of those who come after us based on their metric for success, not our own. It seems as if Tangela Ekhoff is already ahead of the curve on that one.
In fact, she ends her series of advice on a powerful note that can apply to anyone of any generation. Perhaps with all the flak we're constantly getting it is especially important for Millennials right now, but Gen Y, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and everyone should remember this advice when they're getting caught up worrying about what other people want for them rather than what they want for themselves: "Go live your lives. Make choices that work for you… The only thing you will ever regret not owning is your happiness. FIN."