“Life isn’t a choice. Lifestyle is!” — Srini E.
I ain’t a millennial—in fact, I didn’t even know what the word meant until about a year ago. So if you still don’t have a clue about what it means: those born between 1980 and 2000 are considered to be part of the millennial generation—millennials, in short. They are considered special because (apparently) they were born and raised in an era of rapid change and hence they ended up with very different priorities, expectations and values in life compared to other generations.
If your immediate response at this stage was “whatever!”, then it makes two of us! I had always thought (based on a small sample of the so called millennials, of course) they were shallow, clueless, always looking for quick wins and generally insincere. I also was convinced that they had it all very easy, spoilt in many cases and grew up feeling entitled all the time. I therefore couldn’t agree more with a recent interview, where Simon Sinek argues that “millennials are a result of failed parenting strategies” ! In other words, my dad could have fixed the entire generation of millennials!
I recently had the opportunity to shuttle (a bit too much) between my home country and my bank’s “centers of excellence”—a glorified term for those countries/offices where most of the bank’s roles have been outsourced and are performed by millennials. Naturally, I interacted mainly with millennials, managed a lot of them and made friends with a few of them. As I observed them deal with life’s challenges—how they behaved in various situations—and listened to their thought processes, I realised my mistake very quickly. I was wrong to have judged them without closely interacting with them. In fact, if there is one generation that really understood “Life isn’t a choice, but lifestyle is”, it is the millennial generation.
While I admire so many attributes of the millennial generation, there are five important life lessons that other generations can learn from millennials.
They live for the day
I could never understand this bullshit, until I actually spent time with this younger lot. It is amazing how they are focused on the current day. They don’t look back on what could have been, don’t kill themselves over wrong decisions or immerse themselves everyday making plans for the future. They are probably the least indebted generation I know and I don’t think that’s going to change for a long time (though it means my real estate investments are doomed for a long time too).
They don’t fret the small stuff
By definition, they are born and raised in a world of rapid change. So I think it is in their system not to be rattled by uncertainties or transactional disappointments happening around them every day. They really don’t fret the small stuff—not even some of their big successes because they know nothing is permanent, good or bad. I was able to tell a lot of my (recent) millennial friends that I need to take a rain check or cancel on them last minute with so much ease. I would struggle to do the same with friends of my generation without feeling guilty or being made to feel like a complete idiot for not having anticipated a mishap three months in advance!
They move on
I really wish older generations were as good at moving on as the millennials. Millennials tend to be less clingy and move on much faster. A super smart millennial friend of mine told me how she helped her boyfriend choose between her and his mom, who was proving to be a dead end in their relationship. Not only did she help the boyfriend move on (because he was the quintessential momma’s boy) but also moved on herself with clear lessons learned. Another dear friend of mine taught me how to deal with heartbreaks and move on, even if it was due to your fault. Millennials, in my view, have realised how short life is and have rightly refused to spend it hanging on to the (screwed up) past.
They know what they are doing
Millennials not only know what they are doing but are also very sensitive to how their actions might potentially impact others or the environment. They may not have all the experience and wisdom of older generations but I was able to witness their reasoning in every major step they took in their lives. Look at almost all major protests and revolutions taking place around the world; you can’t deny the fact that they are led and inspired by the millennial generation.
They are present, physically and emotionally
Contrary to my belief, I found that millennials participate more sincerely in formal and informal gatherings. They hardly look at their phones and in fact, most of them had their phones on silent mode when we had a drink or dinner. They never felt the urge to return a phone call or constantly update their friends of their whereabouts. I was more guilty in this department than any of them were. They are “present” both physically and emotionally, which allows them to be their best wherever they are. This perhaps explains why two-timers are still successful in their game!
Photo: Sai Shraddha Suresh