Millennial Life Crisis Blog

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Welcome to the Millennial Life Crisis Blog! I’m Michelle: anthropologist, licensed nurse, and certified life coach. I’m also a fellow millennial and your guide through the bewildering and often nebulous experience of navigating millennial life.

So what is the Millennial Life Crisis? 

I’m glad you asked. 😉

But, before I get into that, lets define who Millennials are.

Millennials are people born between 1981-1996. Depending on where you look those numbers may vary, but for this blog post I have decided to use these years. There are a million memes, jokes, and posts all over the internet about Millennials. I’m sure you’ve seen or heard something about it. The term “Millennial” has adopted a lot of different meanings. “No generation has been as publicly reviled, praised, misunderstood, and analyzed as the Millennials.”
-Forbes

But why? What’s the big deal? 

Well, there’s a lot of different theories. Most people have trouble understanding why Millennials seem to have a chip on their shoulders. They aren’t satisfied despite having “more” than previous generations. They aren’t happy. They feel entitled to something more, but don’t they already have what they need? 

Are we a generation of entitled complainers?

Nope.

It comes down to expectations vs reality. Our expectations can create significant stress when they don’t match up to reality. What beliefs do we have about our lives? About ourselves? What beliefs did our parents teach us?

A belief is simply a thought we keep thinking. The thoughts you keep thinking over and over are what you believe. What you believe shapes how you think about everything, and ultimately, the results you get.

What do Millennials believe?

We are more educated compared to our grandparents, and the majority of bachelor degrees earned by Millennials are held by women. Millennial women are also much more likely to be working. In the Silent generation 42% of women worked compared to 71% of Millennial women. Additionally, Millennials are three times more likely to never have been married. We are connected and comfortable with social media, the internet, and smart tech. About 92% of us have smartphones. [Cited]

And yet…

More Millennial households are in poverty than households headed by any other generation.

I cannot think of a better example of expectation vs reality than this.

Think about it. Millennials were raised by Baby Boomers; the generation that lived through the civil rights movement, Woodstock, free-love, the Vietnam war, counterculture, and who saw women’s rights expand. America was moving forward and life was getting better. People began to question the status quo. They opened their eyes to how relationships, love, and life was perceived. They questioned war. They questioned race. They worked hard to get ahead, and were paid enough to actually see progress. 

So, naturally, as their children, Millennials were primed from the beginning to push expectations higher and demand more from their lives, to explore what life could be, to question boundaries and move forward, to reconsider what it means to be truly happy. Millennials were taught to believe in optimism, to continue to improve the world as their parents had. 

Millennials believe that working hard and following the path leads them toward their dreams. They pursued education, technology, new ways of seeing the world… because they believed it was the way to be.

Around 2010 (when most Millennials were in their early 20s) many research reports compiled data that reflected an “optimistic” and “hopeful” generation with an open mind-set toward their world views. [Cited]

Current research reflects a very clear shift from that optimism over the last 10 years. Here is a report from 2019:

“This year, we saw a palpable deterioration of optimism and a wide variety of both macroeconomic and day-to-day anxieties weighing on millennials’ minds. They have bleak expectations for the economy—the lowest we have experienced since we began asking this question six years ago. Income inequality and the lack of social mobility were likely factors driving economic pessimism, highlighting the negative impact of an uncertain, unequal environment.

Trust in traditional media also is notably low among millennials and Gen Zs as political conversations over the last year have likely contributed to increased skepticism. And consistent with past surveys, millennials expressed low opinions of political and religious leaders—signaling something must change in order to win over this key cohort.” [Cited]

All of this data reflects the same continuous theme. Millennials were forged in the wake of high expectations for life, the pursuit of self-growth, success, hope for humankind, and the exploration of what it truly means to thrive. Sounds wonderful! We set out to do just this. Most of us came face-to-face with a world that did not match what we had been  shaped to live in. In fact, we were slapped in the face.

Suddenly we’re narcissistic, greedy, self-centered, and unreasonable.

Basically, as a generation, we’re collectively the person who was told it’s a costume party, poured time and effort into planning our kick-ass costume, only to show up and discover no one else wearing a costume, feeling confused and betrayed.

That’s not to say other generations before and after Millennials haven’t experienced their own challenges. Of course they have, and still do, but today I am focusing on my own generation because this is where I can help. Any of this work can be applied by anyone, anywhere, who feels my words resonate with them.

Many Millennials swim in a grey area between what they were told should happen and what actually happens on almost every level; jobs, relationships, long-term goals, financial security, happiness. When our brains are pulled between two contradicting thoughts we create confusion, overwhelm, and are unsure where to land. We don’t know what choices to make so we don’t make any. We avoid facing our own unhappiness because we don’t know how or what to change. 

We trudge along wondering why we feel like total crap, wondering why we can’t figure it out, wondering if there’s something wrong with us. Sometimes we buffer against those negative feelings by eating, drinking, sleeping, working…and instead of changing it we stay inside the grey.

We get totally disconnected from ourselves.

The conflict between our expectation and the actual world is causing many Millennials to become stuck, lost, unsure of what they want, or how to make decisions. When we avoid making decisions we let our environments dictate our lives. We lose more control. We feel less in touch. Of course we’ve become detached from our initial optimism. Of course we’ve adopted some mistrust. Of course we’re confused.

This is the Millennial Life Crisis.

It is the grey area of indecision, confusion, and misery where we lose the way through our own lives. Most of you probably don’t when or where it began.

But it did.

The good news is it doesn’t HAVE to stay this way. And, fellow Millennials, this blog is going to focus on changing it without having to change the world (although you can still try if you want, 😉 ).

I’ve been through it. I’ve done it. I have explored the depths of the crisis and come out a Millennial bad-ass. I am going to share everything I have learned through my own Millennial Life Crisis. Tools, tidbits, secrets, all of it.

So my beloved Millennials; grab your avocado toast and hold onto your smartphone. 

Millennial Life Crisis Blog was last modified: March 1st, 2020 by practicalcoach_y7p8ax

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