A love/hate relationship with the term “millennial”.
Being a go-getting, coffee guzzling Millennial comes with high expectations. You are supposed to be simultaneously working successfully towards a degree, balancing a well-rounded social life, procuring internships and job offers, staying healthy, and standing out amongst the hoards of other young people vying for the same life you are. No problem, right?
Wrong. As a member of this exciting 20-something cohort, you can expect to feel ridiculously overwhelmed 97 percent of the time. The other 3 percent is probably being spent napping or banging your head against your computer’s keyboard. You will also probably feel like you aren’t doing enough while you feel like you’re doing way too much. This is so often overlooked in universities and at the intern level. We strain and stress ourselves out every single day to become something we aren’t actually quite sure of yet. How does the med student even know she’ll like being a doctor? How does the astronomy student know that he’ll actually end up discovering anything? How does the journalism student know she’s even any good at writing about the world? They don’t. We have abstract dreams that we tirelessly fight for. Why? Because we’re up so high we can’t see the ground (cue Bethany Joy Lenz lyrics here).
We really do have the world at our feet. As college students, we have unparalleled access to information, opportunities to innovate, and the chance to make the world feel a little smaller thanks to the Internet. Realistically, there are very few limits placed onto our education at this level. The best and worst aspect of this is, we are entirely responsible for if we sink or swim. Yeah we’re independent but we’re also accountable.
So this is my advice to anyone who feels a little lost and a lot overwhelmed: Take a breath and take a step back. You aren’t alone. Are you really trying to do something with these privileges or are you trying to half accomplish everything? If you hope to do it all at once, you will end up doing very little. Pick what you are passionate about and dedicate yourself to those few goals versus trying to conquer them all. Don’t accept every internship that is offered to you. Don’t volunteer for every organization that crops up. Don’t take a million classes at a time. Take summer classes if you need to. Don’t stretch yourself to meet the needs of everyone, stretch only enough to better yourself. Take time out of your week to become re-inspired. Every so often, remind yourself that this age is amazingly adventurous. Trade in the coffee for a shot of tequila. You can only edit a paper so many times—go out tonight. Trade in one alternative spring break mission for a rejuvenating one. Instead of the major complementing elective, take the random thought provoking politics in Harry Potter class. In the midst of working towards your perfect life, don’t forget to live a little.
We are the fast-paced, sleep deprived, ambitious generation. What we do with those descriptors is up to us. What we do with the opportunities we are given is also up to us. The world is an enormous place to have at your feet. It can be absolutely terrifying. Or it can be really, really fun.