Updated: May 4, 2019
Between a career in the military, and my current college experience, I've been working alongside young adults for quite sometime now. And over the years, what seems apparent is the change in ambition, or lack thereof, with each of the younger and younger generations.
Maybe ambition is not the right word, because that would suggest that these people do not have goals, or dreams. That is clearly not the case, evidenced by the fact they either joined the military, or are attending college which means they see the world as a bigger picture and are trying to make a difference for themselves or others. What I feel to be overtly obvious, however, is the lack of confidence and self esteem many of these people posses. It makes me wonder...why?
It could be that I'm allowing myself to be included in that group of people who are quick to judge the millennial generations for being "weak," or "soft," or "scared." I'm trying not to, but I do think there might be some evidence to support my previous statement of low self-esteem and confidence. Then, again, I'm probably wrong.
I remember when I was kid, all we used to talk about was what we were going to do when we grew up. Everyone seemed to be focused on what it meant to get out of the house, own your own car, live by yourself, and explore the world. Stay up late, go to parties, meet new people, and just have fun! "Back in my day" I didn't know a lot of people my age who were afraid to talk out loud, ask questions, or even talk on the phone. As kids, we wanted to be outside, we used our imaginations, played make-believe, and created fantastic worlds full of adventure. We had dreams, and we couldn't wait to make them all come true.
I don't know. Maybe that was just my small world, with the people I was close to. That was our world. Maybe it was all make-believe. Maybe the overly cautious attitudes of today's generations is the correct way to live? The hesitant speech, or the reserved expressions of enthusiasm, or introverted personalities. Maybe all of that is appropriate in today's world. Because today's world is most definitely different than the world my generation grew up in.
We could walk down the street, and not worry about what, or who, could be around the corner to harm us. We could go to school to learn lessons about strictly academics, without the the distraction of practicing impromptu active shooter drills because now even going to school is a risk. Back then, airports, bus terminals, and train stations were just places to send, or receive, loved ones to or from far off places, instead of a potential means to distribute mass casualties to random citizens.
And best of all, America was Beautiful, for Spacious Skies, and Amber Waves of Grain. Full of hope, and promise, and pride. Whereas today, its split and divided, and divided, and split, in so many different directions, it feels like its only a matter of time before it gets added to list of great empires that eventually fall. Except in our case, it would be an implosion from within, rather than invasion. I guess I can understand why the young people are so different than we are. The world they hear about from the older generations is nothing more than fiction and fairy tales.
So here's my silver lining for anyone who might be reading this and wondering, where's the light in all of this? The light is where it has always been. Inside each of us. Is the world dark? Yes. Is it dangerous and scary? Yes. Am I afraid to fail? Also...yes. But now that we know all the facts, here's how we used to do things when I was young. Do it anyway! Run, run, run! Just put a big smile on your face, fake it if you have to, AND GO!!! Do what makes you happy, not, despite what could go wrong, but in spite of it! To heck with being scared, do it anyway.
DREAM BIG!!! And pass it on! Encourage everyone around you to dream big. ACT!!! Be decisive. If it takes longer than a few minutes to decide, drop that decision, and move on to something else. Repeat that over, and over again, until you are doing something you enjoy. Anything!
And...LEARN!!! Use your brain and educate yourself. A person doesn't need a classroom to learn. Read a book, talk to a person and learn their story, talk to someone you know, and learn something about them you didn't already know. Do a puzzle, learn a new language, something...anything...but get your brain working.
Don't be afraid to dream big. Don't be afraid to explore. Don't be afraid to ask questions, to make mistakes. And most of all...don't be afraid to live.
In the 1940s, President Roosevelt said something prolific his address of the nation before the United States entered World War II. He said, "the only thing to fear, is fear itself." Those same words apply to this blog post. Why? Because fear and anxiety limit the potential that lies in each and every one of us. A potential for a bright and beautiful future. Fear prevents us, as a community, from witnessing just how capable we can all become and how successful we can be as a whole. Fear binds, restricts, and suffocates the life out of that potential. Therefore, what we should fear most, is being afraid.
Take a deep breath while you can. Some day, you won't be able to anymore. So, fill your lungs with the free air, fill your head with the wildest fantasies...and...GO! This world may not be the same as it was twenty years ago, but that shouldn't keep anyone from creating a light for themselves and for others. The kind of light that starts in the heart and the mind, then becomes a reality through imagination and action. GOOD LUCK!!!