I’m playing the great procrastination game today. I SHOULD be writing a white paper on cohort learning. I SHOULD be going through the feedback I got on something I wrote from a well-meaning, but actually micro-managing reviewer (nothing like being told how many sentences I should have). Instead, I’ve been doing bills and updating my budget and reading about entitled millennial. I don’t actually like that characterization of millennial and I don’t really agree with it. Do I think that someone who is young and immature can be kinda clueless about the world and may come across as entitled? Yup. I know I was at that age. We all laugh at that first job we got where we thought we were making SO much money and now we were going to be able to do and have so much stuff! I wince at the salary I thought made me “rich” (and let’s be real, it wasn’t a salary, it was an hourly wage) and the cruel realizations that more money and more things just means more responsibility and more bills.
I remember the first time I realized you had to pay for garbage. Really? I have to PAY someone to come take the garbage? That isn’t something that the city just takes care of to make it a nicer city? Nope. How about water? It does not flow freely from our taps because it is water. We have to pay for that to happen and if we do not pay, it does not flow from the taps. Ask me how many times I learned that lesson!
How many of us blew our paychecks on a concert or clothes only to realize that meant we had no money for groceries and rent? If you were lucky enough to live near your parents, you went home to eat and brought your laundry. You might have even raided the fridge for some staples to take back to your place. This is the age where you are figuring this stuff out. This is when you are falling down as you learn what it takes to keep standing. It’s the process of maturation. Some people mature quickly and are easily independent. I was clueless and clueless for a lot longer than I deserved to be. If it hadn’t been for my mom, I would have been out on the streets several times. Some could have told me I acted entitled and they would have been correct.
I feel for the millennial today though because I think social media skews real life. When we post, we all tend to post things that are, maybe not extraordinary, but they are more-than-ordinary. A great meal out at a restaurant is a treat so we share. We get to go on a great vacation and do things that are special, so we share. Those are the things to share with each other (because, really, who wants to see my messy kitchen and piles of laundry?) but when you take a cumulative look at that picture it creates, it looks like everyone has more, and does more than we actually do and have. Someone who is just coming into adult life could easily think that those activities are the activities of everyday life for most people and not the special moments someone has because they did a lot of boring things like work day-to-day and save money. Wouldn’t you just love it if someone posted every day, “In the office by 6 again this morning and brought a PB&J for lunch.” No way. Those are the things I try not to focus on in my OWN life let alone read about you doing it too. I’d rather you share your Hawaii pictures.
So I can totally see why a millennial might believe that they should be going on Hawaiian vacations because that’s what they see on their timelines. This doesn’t mean I don’t cringe when I see an acquaintance, who I know is super broke and struggling to feed their kids or get an apartment, share their new, giant tattoo, fancy manicures, designer purses, and Disney vacations. I’m not saying they aren’t entitled to something nice now and then. I want them to have that and I know how hard they work. But I also think that we don’t do them any favors by only sharing special things on social media. I was talking to one of these acquaintances who was suddenly in the position of having no car but was also planning an expensive vacation. What would I have appreciated hearing when I was in that position? What wouldn’t make me feel foolish and small but maybe help guide me to reduce some of the struggle?
We ended up having a great conversation about priorities. What brings you joy and energy for your life and what are you spending energy, time, and money on that really isn’t that important to you? If that Disney vacation is the thing that makes you happy and taking the bus everyday isn’t a big deal, then you should take that vacation. They seemed genuinely interested in some of the ways I’ve found to budget my money and time so I thought it would be interesting to share out too. Make our timelines a little more realistic.
I share a lot of adorable pictures of my dogs but the flip side someone should probably hear is that having this many dogs means I spend a significant amount of time cleaning up after them and sometimes that stuff is poop. If the poop, hair, drool, and mud is something you abhor, don’t get a lot of dogs. I also like to nest which means I scrimped and saved to buy a house. I still don’t see movies in the theater (well, maybe 2 a year), I rarely go out (I invite people in), and I spend a lot of my time keeping the house up. Houses take a LOT of work. Just keeping them clean, repaired, and comfortable takes a significant amount of my time, energy, and money. I don’t have a lot of weekends free as they get taken up with working around the house.
I drive an old car, I don’t buy a lot of clothes, I don’t buy designer anything. But those aren’t that important to me. I do have a lovely home that I enjoy welcoming people into and having family for holidays is really important to me. It’s all about balancing your priorities. I don’t spend the money on things that I don’t really care about so that I do have it for the things that are important.
What are some of the things you sacrifice for the things you value?