The Existential Millennial

Photo by Ellie Burgin on

I passed a dead raven on the walk from my day job to the Starbucks where I write my freelance articles. The raven was lying on its back under a tree by the side of the road; wings spread and legs in the air. It had apparently frozen to death in the icy spell of Arctic weather that entombed the Puget Sound in a layer of frost this week.

Passing the corpse of the unfortunate bird inevitably got me thinking about life. Death does that to a guy.

In less than a month, I’ll be starting my twenty-fourth turn around the Sun, which makes me a member of the Millennial Generation — the children of the Baby Boomers. As a consequence of having grown up alongside the Internet, there is a lot of market research done to convert us into spreadsheets and then into money. Everywhere I turn, I am bombarded with a glut of new research about my generation. According to dozens of studies and articles, I’m supposed to be obsessed with video games, living at home with my parents, struggling with critical thinking, unwilling to work hard at my job and suffering from a technologically shortened attention span. I’m also at a competitive disadvantage thanks to the recession and economists predict I will never enjoy the same standard of living as my parents.

It’s a pretty grim picture.

But when I look at the data, I don’t see a picture that looks like me. I may work two jobs (and still can’t keep my apartment warm), but I’m self-sufficient and I work hard to stay that way. I’ve never owned a video game console and while I can be a little scattered sometimes, I like nothing more than to sit down with a good book or have a deep, challenging conversation.

It can be difficult to have faith in people during hard times. Maybe our best days are behind us. I honestly don’t know. The economy and rising sea levels may swallow me and there’s a distinct possibility that there’s nothing I can do to change it. All I can control are my own actions. I may be a Millennial, but I still know how to get things done. I think we can still fix the problems that are plaguing the world, if we decide we want to put in the effort.

Call me idealistic, but I’m going to make a difference somehow, even in a small way. Not because I’m sure it will do anything, but because I have the will to act. And maybe to prove the critics of my “lazy” generation wrong. I will not let this raven die in vain.

— 30 —

Jonny Eberle is a writer in Tacoma, WA, where he probably thinks too much about the mysteries of life and death. As he searches for his purpose, you can follow him on Twitter.

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