generational stereotypes

What Boomers Writing Their Memoirs Can Learn from Millennials

Millennials are Comfortable in the Spotlight

At 32, I’m a millennial—part of that much-scorned generation of selfish, entitled, participation-trophy-toting crybabies. If you ask me, of course, we have plenty to cry about:

  • Crushing student loan debt.

  • High unemployment and historically low pay.

  • More stress and depression than any generation before.

  • Being priced out of the housing market.

  • A racist and misogynist president.

  • A dying planet.

But.

What we do have going for us is likewise significant. We’re also:

  • The best-educated generation.

  • Incredibly tech-savvy.

  • Closer to equal pay and gender equality than any generation before.

  • Comfortable with being in the spotlight.

That’s right—since most millennials came of age on the internet, and the vast majority of us have social media accounts, we know what it’s like to put it all out there—and be seen.

After all, we’ve always known Big Brother was watching. He’s just been more obvious of late.

Millennials Demand Great Stories

Captains of our ships, men, women, and non-binary individuals alike between the ages of 22 and 37 are okay with—and may even demand that we’re—living a great story. And we’re okay with earning recognition for it. 

That is: We live big lives, take great risks, and love hard. And then we tell the world about it.

After all, practically any achievement by a millennial in this political and economic climate deserves much more than a participation trophy.

Millennials Live for the Now—and Know Their Worth

In a lot of ways, I and my friends are screwed. We can’t afford kids. We don’t know when (or if) we’ll retire. We don’t expect Social Security. With rising healthcare costs, who knows if Medicare will stick around, either? 

For that matter, who knows if the planet will?

And yet, because we can’t live for the future, we live for the now. More than any generation before us, we celebrate everyday moments big and small—by posting them to Instagram. We Tweet random thoughts over bowls of Cheerios and engage the serious debates that follow. We lift each other up and we never discount our own worth.

Especially the value of our voices.

After all, that’s the only vehicle for social change that my generation seems to have embraced.

Millennials Take Credit Where It’s Due

I cannot say the same for the older adults I work with, who need so much coaxing, so much safe-space-building, to believe that I—or anyone—wants to hear their stories.

Generally, clients 70+ don’t want to write a memoir about themselves, but so many friends and family members have badgered them about it that they’ve finally agreed. Only, once we’ve sat down together over cups of coffee, they downplay their lives. Couch stories about trailblazing careers and raising large families in vague language and a “Well, that’s just what we did”-mentality, refusing to take credit where it’s due.

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Oh, boomers and the silent generation. We want to hear your stories. We want to learn from you. We want to honor you! Let the selfish, entitled, “me” generation teach you what it’s like to focus on yourself … because you never have before.

To my fellow millennials: I can’t wait to read your memoirs. When you’re 70+, you will have under your belts a lifetime of practice at sharing your story. I know they will be spectacular.

After all, you’ve already shown me that they are.