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Dear Millennial, From A Gen Xer

'It is easy to hate on you.'
PHOTO: Nick Onken

Dear Millennials,

You're doing a good job.

It is easy to hate on you—I've done it myself on occasion—for being weak, for being sensitive, for being idealistic, but in truth, I'm glad that you're there.

You aren't weak, you are strong; you grew up in an era fraught with uncertainty. You've witnessed firsthand how adults don't know what they're doing, and how their pride has driven nations to the brink of desperation. Because of this, you have struggled to go back to basics, live your own way, choosing happiness and self-fulfillment over material gain because you can't take your wealth with you to your grave but love and memories can last forever.

You aren't sensitive, you're compassionate; you push endeavors that focus on helping humanity and the environment. You worry that people are being denied their rights. You worry about climate change and animal abuse. You know that the world will be a better place if we are kinder to it, and each other.


You are idealistic, and you are fighters; you've pushed for intersectionality and individualism. You demand that everyone regardless of gender, race, or religion be respected and allowed to express themselves in peace and safety.

You encourage everyone to let their freak flag fly, and protect the right of everyone to speak their beliefs, even when they don't align with yours.

At this writing, the survival of our democracy may quite literally depend on you.

You have made normal many things that I never thought would be mainstream—a concern for the environment, a respect for the different, and the simple wish for a better earth for all.


Maybe it's because you've taken these things you've built for granted that you forget that life is not easy. That unless you are very smart or very well connected, it's hard to leave college and expect a job, much less a high paying one, without willing to work hard or to prove yourself first.

It is possible to become successful in the field you love even if you have no background or contacts in it, but it will take luck, guts, grit, and a lot of hard work.

You'll have to start at the bottom.

You'll have to take any job, sometimes at minimum wage (and in this country, you can count yourself lucky), sometimes for horrible bosses or with impossible coworkers. But if you work hard and work smart and are lucky enough to recognize opportunities and take them, you will find success. 


But before that, you will have to realize that if you want to be independent, if you want to be respected in your field, all you will have to start with is yourself—your ethics, your attitude, your willingness to do even the unglamorous bits.

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Not even going to a top school will save you if you are prideful, not even the proper connections can help you get to the top if you are not willing to learn the ropes.

But this is not a bad thing; it may be difficult and painful, but it can also be filled with fulfillment and joy.

It's a harsh truth that the world doesn't owe you anything, but if you work hard and work smart, the world can still be yours.

Just don't be an asshole.

Yours,

A Gen-Xer