Lessons from the Last Millenials
Updated: Jul 21
There are a little under 8,000,000 people who were born in the United States from 1995 through 1996. I am one of them.
We have grown up with the feelings of uncertainty, fear, helplessness, and depression in our day to day lives because we are familiar with living in the midst of chaos.
I refer to this select group of young adults as The Last Millennials.
In 2001, we were 5 and 6. Our worlds were small and simple. We were starting to learn all the basic rules about how to be a person. One morning, a plane full of bad men that we didn’t know about crashed into some buildings in a city most of us had never heard of.
Adults tried to tell us what had happened and why it was important, but they had kid gloves on. We didn’t know what the hell was going on. All we knew was the obvious terror and hopelessness many Americans shared for years to come.
We were observing them….feeling the changes…learning about this new world we were growing up in.
In 2005, we were 9 and 10. We had all the time in the world as we cruised through elementary school, and focused on friendships and fun.
A hurricane hit and destroyed the lives of millions. The luckier ones who didn’t live near the hurricane felt bad for all of those who were affected.
We wanted to help, but we couldn’t. We had all the time in the world, but no money or way of helping others in need. We were just children. All we could do was feel bad, and hope the adults would take care of the victims.
In 2012, we were 16 and 17. We had nothing but the future on our minds. We were trying to balance grades, school activities, family, friends, and first loves all while trying to prepare for life after high school. We were hopeful.
And then a man killed 12 strangers in a movie theater. A few months later, another man killed 6 educators and 20 first graders. In the years to follow - concerts, dance clubs, and churches were also targeted by more mentally ill men with assault weapons.
Nowhere was sacred. Nowhere was safe. That could’ve happened to any of us or someone we knew at any moment anywhere at any time. It still can.
It is 2020. We are 24 and 25. We are tired. We have been working hard in a country led by a man many of us didn’t vote for. Most of us are broke and unsure about what our futures will hold.
There is a virus with a high transmission rate infecting and killing hundreds of thousands of people all around the world.
Many have been laid off and asked to stay inside until things get better.
We are scared. We are uncertain. We want our communities to be safe and for our lives to return to normal.
But sometimes, this reality already feels familiar to us.
The truth is that we have been sitting and patiently waiting for things to get better our entire lives. We have learned to cope with an overwhelming world when it feels like everything is spiraling out of control, and there’s not much we can do to stop it.
Welcome to our world.
On behalf of my fellow Last Millenials, here are some key tips for surviving the ‘new‘ normal.
1: Love Your Pets As Much As You Can:
Humans may be struggling right now but for our pets, it’s basically Christmas. Almost everyone they love is home all day and they’re just happy you’re there.
Cherish this time you have with your pets and if you don’t already have one, I strongly recommend looking into getting one. Get any pet – even just a $5 goldfish. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you can wake up in the morning with at least one important job and that is to feed and love your pet whose world is better and more fun because they have you in it.
We may not have full control over what happens in our lives, but we do have full control over theirs, and we should help them have amazing lives.
2: Play Some Video Games:
Video games offer a wide variety of entertainment and, more importantly, a chance to truly escape. The nice thing about video games is that you always have the choice of playing by yourself or with others. It’s great for keeping your mind on something other than the news or your Facebook feed and when you’re getting really into a game, the hours just fly by.
Dig out those Wii controllers and plastic guitars because we are going to be at home for a while so you might as well start having some fun. Don’t forget about the oldies but goodies, by the way. Mario Party, Super Smash Bros., and Rock Band are still fun as hell.
Right now, Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizon’s has been an extremely popular game to play on the Nintendo Switch. Now you can live out an adorable life on a faraway island you’re in charge of in an economy where it’s possible to pay off your loans. It’s a dream come true.
3: Pay For As Many Memberships or Premium Subscriptions As You Need To Function:
You might think spending money on some apps or subscriptions to streaming services are not worth your money, but self-care in the 21st century now includes not seeing that ad you hate pop up every 10 seconds.
My boyfriend and I have Hulu, Netflix, Disney Plus, DC Universe, Youtube Red, and Spotify Premium. They are worth every penny.
Do what you have to do to feel good. Your sanity is important.
4: The Internet is Your Best Friend:
Fall into the everlasting rabbit hole of clickbait articles and weird images to learn things you never knew you wanted to know. You have the whole wide world at your fingertips. Pretend like that’s still the coolest thing ever and be a kid again.
Explore. Have fun. Just, you know, from the comfort of your own home.
Speaking of utilizing the internet….
5: Find an Online Community:
There are millions of Facebook groups for literally everything and everybody. I dare you to find a Facebook Group that doesn’t exist. And that’s just one website to explore.
Go online and find like-minded people who you have things in common with. Online friendships are pretty legitimate now that we’ve figured out about a 100 different ways to ensure that the person you’re talking to is, in fact, who they say they are.
11: Look at Memes:
Memes are a true art form. On the outside they are random, goofy, sometimes obscure, and occasionally crude images and jokes; but they are so much more than just a cheap laugh. They are relatable snapshots of life that are documented as it’s happening. You can scroll back to your favorite memes and suddenly remember funny things like that month when people were eating Tide Pods.
Memes are now part of the history of our lives, and paint a very unique picture of our shared experiences in the past decade. They just happen to be in the form of random, goofy, sometimes obscure, and occasionally crude images and jokes.
12: Stay Connected:
It’s important to stay connected now more than ever and using today’s technology, it’s easier than ever. I personally have a running list of people I make sure I touch base with at least once every couple of weeks.
The beauty of instant messaging is that we can now communicate effectively at a time most convenient to all parties involved. Balancing 10 different conversations through several different methods is now standard and not as overwhelming and time-consuming as you might think. Even just a funny picture or a ‘Hey, just wanted to let you know I’ve been thinking of you. Hope you’re doing well’ can mean a lot to someone.
Take time out of your day to check those snapchats, texts, emails, etc. It’s worth the connections you make each time you talk to someone — even if it’s just for a couple of messages.
13: Be Childish:
Remember when you were a kid and you had no control over where you could go, so you enjoyed just being alive using the resources you had around you? Channel that kid energy.
14: Remember that Crafts Are Fun:
Don’t underestimate the value of crafting. Crafting was such a big part of our childhoods and we should continue to invest some time in them. They’re fun, help us stay creative, and they stimulate our sense of accomplishment when we finish them.
My cousin just had her second child and has made several bibs and other misc. baby accessories for her son. My best friend is crocheting blankets. I’m scrapbooking old cards. Other good examples include Minecraft, Legos, woodworking, knitting, and coloring.
Get to crafting! It's good for the soul.
15: Dust off those Board Games:
I have a lot of fond memories playing Cards Against Humanities and listening to people fighting over Monopoly. A game night is a wholesome way to love/hate the people you’re playing with. Plus, the experience is different every time.
And if you’ve outgrown all the old classics, just know that there is an entire market of adult board/card games worth checking out online. Have a house party every night with games!
Its always great making memories as you scream at people over the real rules of Uno.
16: Write. Anything:
Writing is therapeutic. I’m not saying you should try to write the next American Novel, I’m saying to just write. Write to no one or to someone or to everyone. Text someone, journal, write a list about everything you’re going to do when this is over, tell a story on Facebook, or finally catch up on those thank you cards you’ve been procrastinating on.
17: Let Go and Listen to Music.
We are part of the generation of teenagers who got to grow up with an eclectic variety of music that was highly accessible, cheap, and easy to listen to just about anywhere.
If there’s one thing we know it’s this: It is possible to have an amazing time just blasting music you love at its highest volume and rocking out to your own personal concert. I have very fond memories of all the times my friends and I would do nothing but that.
18: Don’t Forget about Fun Underneath the Sheets:
Whether you’re quarantined with a significant other or not, it’s important to remember that pleasure can always be found inside the confines of our bedrooms. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s indoors, it releases oxytocin, and it’s good exercise.
It’s important to let loose and relax our bodies and minds by doing one of the best things no one can ever take away from us.
19: Bad Movies Are Great:
There are a lot of great movies out there but you know what there is more of? Bad movies. So so many bad movies. If you want a fun afternoon, pick any movie from the early 2000s that you haven’t seen in a while and make some popcorn. Basque in the simplicity that can be found in the terrible collection of films that are so bad, it’s amazing.
If you want some suggestions, there are cult classics like ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’, ‘The Room’, and ‘Repomen: The Genetic Opera’. There's every other Adam Sandler movie. Don’t forget that gems like ‘The Master of Disguise’, ‘Shallow Hal’, ‘Kangaroo Jack’, ’The Bee Movie’, and ‘White Chicks’ exist.
(For the record I genuinely enjoy and love some of these movies but to the general populace, they are considered ‘bad’ movies. Also, I know Rocky Horror is technically an 80’s movie but I had to include it because why not?)
20: Whatever You Do, Just Make Sure You Laugh:
If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s the message that no matter what you do – it’s very important that you find time every day to laugh.
We know better than anyone that our lives are not entirely our own, and there are so many things we cannot control no matter how much we wish we could.
The only thing you can control is yourself, and you deserve to laugh and find joy in a world that can sometimes seem extremely bleak. There will always be light to balance out the darkness.
There will always be laughter.
Sarah de Leon on Behalf her Fellow
P.S. Please don’t vote for Trump.