So I'm sure you've all seen a million articles out there already about what it's like being a millennial. These articles include how the media perceives millennials, what we're blamed for (economically, socially, politically), and how we're either the worst or best at paving the way for the future of tomorrow.
With all the mixed messages and constant scrutiny from our parents and society it's hard to feel confident in yourself. Many millennials these days are also experiencing all time highs with mental health issues, including spikes in depression and anxiety that are playing out in physical symptoms of stress as well. With all of the pressure to perform academically in high school, college, in your current or future job, and live up to ideas of 'success' portrayed by celebrities and Instagram stars on social media, it's no wonder millennials are finding themselves stuck in a rut of unhappiness. So what can be done for us poor millennials with little spending power, mounting bills and debt, and ever dipping mental health?
Scrap your picturesque idea of happiness, and rediscover your own success
Sure many of us would enjoy living the high life in a high rise swanky condo, having unlimited traveling capabilities, and minimal job responsibilities. For most of us out there though, that isn't reality. So instead we live our lives vicariously through social media stars and glamorous pictures we find on Facebook and Instagram. Setting goals to attain material things isn't always a negative, and can be healthy when it's giving us something to strive for. However, when the material world becomes the center of our being, we run the risk of losing ourselves to 'things' versus the value of human connection and individual experiences. There is also the idea that we deserve more and should have the right to experience the riches and wonders of the world right now!
Well my fellow millennial, as you and I both know, life isn't out there to satisfy our every need and whim simply because we believe we are worthy and deserving of more. Life is what we make of it, and to live through the looking glass of another means we are missing out on the goldmine in our own life. Maybe affording an expensive car or trip is out of the question, but how can you treat yourself in smaller, more meaningful ways?
Gather your crew!
For starters you can look to friendships with those closest to you for rich and rewarding outcomes. With technology it's easy these days to check in and keep up with friends across the globe, but how many of those 'friends' have you spent face-to-face time with recently? How often do you share the good and bad times with close buddies over dinner, or sit down to play a game of Cards Against Humanity, or even attend local festivals ? Disconnect from your phone, and start reconnecting person to person again!
Don't hate, appreciate!
When was the last time you also took stock of the things you do have in life? For some it's easy to take a roof over your head, the ability to purchase take out, and even the ability to watch Netflix for granted. Practice showing appreciation for the everyday little things that help get you by. Take time out to reflect on them each day. To help with this, try creating the idea of a mental getaway by taking everyday ordinary things and making them something valuable to look forward to! Maybe you work 40+ hours a week at a job you don't enjoy, but the idea of coming home to a space where you can relax or to people you want to spend time with is the vacation you've been waiting for all day. So hype up the ordinary by getting excited about what's already waiting for you in your life.
Travel through time in your life
Also remember to reflect on where you're at presently in life, where you were in the past, and where you want to be in the future. For many of us, we forget how to measure progress in our personal, professional, and social lives. Maybe you were struggling with major symptoms of depression in high school that kept you from engaging socially with others, but now, although you may still feel bouts of sadness from time to time, you have a small circle of friends that you feel comfortable and confident spending time with. Maybe you received your degree from college but your dream job doesn't make nearly the income you hoped it would. But you put in that time and effort to attain your degree, and are making great headway in your current job. By remembering our starting, middle, and end points during different journeys we've embarked upon can help us better track our own success. If you're in a place currently that you don't feel is successful or healthy, or if you've looked back and can't find points of progress, make the decision today to start a new point of change. Maybe that change is simply adding a new food group to a diet, or deciding to journal, or simply getting out of bed for the day. Either way, change won't happen in your life without your input. Everyone and everything has to start somewhere, so big or small, take that next step!
Invest in yourself
Last but not least, take time to invest emotionally in you! Often we as millennials wait for others to invest emotional time and energy into us. When this happens, we fail to nourish our own souls. Why refuse to go on that mountain biking excursion you so desperately want to simply because your friend opted out? Or why not compliment yourself on how you look today instead of waiting around for 'likes' on your social media picture? The ultimate secret to happiness lies not in what others can do for us, but what we can do for ourselves. So start now! Remind yourself of why you are handsome or beautiful, or that you are talented at what you do, and why you are an awesome human being!
Devin Pinkston is a local mental health counselor and Gender Therapist in Grand Junction Colorado. Call to schedule