by Alexa Bass, writer/poet
September 11, 2017
They say Millennials are the poster children of narcissism; vintage filtered selfies, gratuitously mundane status updates, and (gasp!) expensive avocado toast. Millennials only live once, right?
However, looking at the current political climate, one might notice a renaissance of renewed interest in the 18 to 35 crowd. While the politics are murky, one thing is certain: social justice, volunteerism, and activism are alive and well.
The 2016 presidential election was divisive. The rift created by its results led to an exhaustive disappointment for many who had poured their hearts into social change. Then-President-Elect Trump was the antithesis of Millennials idealistic inclusivity.
It doesn’t seem as if narcissism is the guiding light of Millennials. Overburdened with big picture empathy and idealism, this younger generation has a difficult time channeling consistent, healthy, and constructive activism.
A Millennial myself, I began to feel the fatigue of heated conversation and the tone of condescension towards those who bothered themselves with “identity politics”. The confidence and certainty I felt at the start had turned to bitterness. If my beliefs about equality, civility, and kindness were under attack and losing, what was the point? I had lost my perspective; an ailment I believe was shared by many.
“If my beliefs about equality, civility, and kindness were under attack and losing, what was the point? I had lost my perspective; an ailment I believe was shared by many.”
The human experience has always been enveloped in political and ethical tug-of-wars, yet we’ve never been stagnant. Forward momentum in thought is how we ended slavery, women and people of color gained the right to vote, and LGBTQ+ non-discrimination laws came into place. It is easy to think ideas and words are powerless against despots and oppressive practices, but they are the very actions that have led us to our greatest successes.
Consistency is important when creating these new foundations of thought. Life will always be two steps forward and one step back. It is up to us to be representatives of what can be. How do we go about this without becoming jaded in the process?
Balancing our idealism with achievable, small goals.
Volunteering your time or donating resources to community centers, charities, and schools is an excellent way to broadcast your message constructively.
Mindfulness in conflict and boundary setting skills.
These tools are priceless additions to our everyday communication. Effectively communicating our positions and recognizing we do not have power over other’s emotions helps alleviate tensions amongst everyone. It is not your responsibility to change people; it is only your responsibility to live your truth through positive actions.
Find your niche.
Activism isn’t all signs and rallies. Activism is in painting, writing, vlogging, theater, or even weekly get-togethers with others who inspire and support you. Some of our greatest, most thought provoking revolutionaries were poets, painters, and musicians. The message is what matters. How it’s presented is up to you.
Get acquainted with current policies, politicians, and political history.
Not only will your knowledge help you form more credible arguments, it may also give you a clearer picture of the natural ebbs and flows of cultural and political changes throughout history. You begin to see progress in its whole form rather than your singular experience.
Passion is best practiced with patience and understanding. My generation is interesting, thoughtful, and quickly becoming disheartened. It is on our shoulders to regain our momentum and make amazing things happen.