Millennial Mindset: The Place Of The Modern Generation In Society

Millennials. The generation born in the 1980s to early 2000s now emerging into early adulthood, who have been blessed to grow up in an ever-connected world.

We live our lives online, not thinking twice about posting on social media little details such as a photo of the coffee we just bought, or seeing people walking down the street taking dozens of selfies to find the one ‘perfect’ to post.

But when did the number of likes, retweets and comments become so important? When did it become a measure of our worth or how good our day has been? When did we start having to conform to ideals of the modern society and the pressures to fit in? When did everything start being labelled and our freedom to simply be our own selves become something to shy away from?

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By no means am I opposed to the global connection that the online world provides, but it is being increasingly reported that young people are feeling isolated in their social interactions. Yes, we may speak to multiple people daily via texts or social media direct messages, but this should not be a substitute for face-to-face interactions and having fun.

A study by the Office for National Statistics reported earlier this year that those aged 16-24 years and 25-34 years felt greater loneliness than any other adult age groups. Associated with this is an upsurge in mental health related issues, though I am pleased to see society’s increasing efforts to assist those facing struggles which are not always visible.

Compounding this is the somewhat obsessive comparisons we make daily to the ‘perfect’ lives we see, especially on Instagram. There is an apparent ever-increasing dissatisfaction with lives not measuring up to the standards portrayed by social media personalities and celebrities.

This is especially so in relation to beauty and mass-dissemination of a physical ideal. The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf investigates this in-depth, and whilst I do not agree with all of her points, it is a fascinating and thought-provoking read. The take-home message being that beauty is not just as deep as a mirror’s or society’s reflection.

The need to compare ourselves less to everyone else in society is wonderfully summarised by Paul Angone: “We need to celebrate on the ship we’re sailing, instead of drowning as we attempt to swim to someone else’s.”

These are not the only concerns millennials face. Though older generations may sometimes take the viewpoint of these issues being over-exaggerated, there is a real challenge of this age group feeling lost or frustrated in multiple uphill battles.

An increasingly educated youth face unemployment as supply outweighs demand, brilliantly described in Paul Angone’s book ‘All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!’ as “The job hunt has become the millennial version of the Hunger Games”. It is no wonder we feel overwhelmed when it may take six or more stages in the recruitment process to obtain our first job.

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Those attending university carry the burden of thousands of pounds of debt before they have even stepped one foot onto the career ladder, with the obvious subsequent issues this brings to purchasing their first property and disposable income to not solely live for work. Increasingly, there is a move towards people choosing to work for passion over pay.

Some refer to this as the ‘Quarter Life Crisis’, where the old typically ‘adult’ marker of life events are being pushed further back, whilst we take more time to focus on ourselves and our own progression through life. Aligned with this is the increasing popularity of seeking advice for wellbeing and spirituality, with a distinct purposeful change to evade the millennial woes.

Moving out of this millennial mindset is not something people may take up easily. But permitting yourself a few moments to reflect each day on what you achieved, what made you happy and what you can improve upon the next day will bring rewards greater than people’s momentary opinion on a social media post.

Go out and enjoy a walk in nature, appreciate the change of the seasons and what it truly means to be alive. Avoid the temptation to whip out your smartphone and post that picture of the leaves changing colour; instead listen to the leaves rustling and birds tweeting, the smell of the air or grass, the feel of the breeze on your skin. Those are the senses the picture won’t remember.

Self-care is important for nurturing your mind, body and soul. Taking a little time each day to do this can make the world of difference in managing the millennial mindset.

It is important to remember that what we see online is not that others are living the perfect life, with their amazing Instagram photographs or “look at this awesome thing I did today” posts. These lives are edited, generally showing the good parts. So do not use it as a benchmark for comparison.

By all means, use it as inspiration and seize the opportunity to set goals, but remember their lives aren’t perfect either. It is okay for things to not go as planned. It is okay to feel in limbo. So long as we learn from these experiences and grow with them. After all, even roses need a little rain to grow.

In the end, it is important to always be true to yourself, what makes you happy and what you aspire to be or achieve. Celebrate your successes, acknowledge the failures. We only have one life, so living it your way rather than to the expectations of a modern society allows you to make it the best it can be.

Written by Hannah Bird, also @thehbird on Instagram.


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