Column: Road untraveled
Every generation in America has had its own characteristics that differentiate it from all the others. Whether it is the G.I., the Silent Generation, the Baby Boomers or Generation X, the national attitude of Americans around the same age is largely consistent as a whole. But what is there for the newest generation, the Millennials? Are we to immediately enter the workplace and settle down to start a family; are we destined to travel the earth and bring about total globalization or are we responsible with the task of remaking our lifestyle and bringing about world change?
The question of what you were to do with your life used to have a clear answer. The G.I. Generation was responsible for winning WWII and subsequently building a nation. The Baby Boomers lived in this newly formed nation and are credited for the social changes of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Generation X entered this born-again world with the individual mindset to pursue what benefited themselves, resulting in a pursuit of wealth and absorption by consumerism. But now the decisions that we make will echo in eternity, defining our generation for history.
As I finish up my final semester of undergraduate studies, I am posed with the dilemma of what comes next. The four years of college seemed like a vortex where the years flew by, but the days passed so slow. Now, after receiving my diploma, I could go down the path of some of my friends, pursuing a career as a sales representative or of management analysis, or choose a different path entirely. With the unemployment rate of college graduates being higher than historically normal,the odds of finding a job seem slim, especially for a political science major.
But maybe finding career positions and seeking the same life as our preceding generation is not what we are meant to do. There seems to be an attitude surrounding the Millennials that reflects a rejection of the historic way of living. Rather than being lost in a consumer-driven society where the norm is work, work, work so that we can spend, spend, spend, many recent graduates have instead pursued a modern-day nomadic way of life, traveling to dream destinations while they are young. Instead of waiting until they have worked long enough to retire, or taking a week vacation, people are traveling around the world finding employment in local venues and learning about cultures all around the world.
If history repeats itself, as it often does, the Millennials will represent a new version of the G.I. Generation. Our war may not be as clear as our forefathers, but it is just as, if not more, important. Instead of filling the caste that was made for you and repeating the actions of an over-advertised consumer, break the mold and make your life what you want it to be. Nobody can teach you to pursue your goals except yourself; there is no guide for your life. Instead you have to make the decisions that will give you the experiences you want. Life is what you make of it. It just depends on how you roll the dice.