Millennials, referring to those who were born in the 1980’s through the early 2000’s, are experiencing new generational challenges, from career and economic uncertainty to mountains of student debt. We are taking on adult responsibilities earlier and delaying family life until later
By the time a millennial sit down on my couch, they have already been analyzed to death. Millennials are “the worst,” “lazy,” and “screwed.” They’re “selfish and entitled,” “crybabies,” and obsessed with themselves and taking ‘selfies.’ They’re also “not as different as you thought.” The idea that they’re all the same is a “myth,” just like the idea that they’re all “lazy,” “work-hating narcissists.”
As someone who falls into that generation, I am in a unique place where I both experience the real stressors associated with emerging adulthood and help others navigate through their own. I have eaten dinner on my commute from work to night classes. I have made terrible, terrible mistakes in my financial aid. I have shown up to work wearing two different shoes after a sleepless night of wondering how I’m going to pay rent. What this has created, aside from a whole lot of confusion and a questionable sense of sanity, is deep respect and empathy for our shared challenges.
I often find myself working hard to provide all of my clients no matter what their age and social economic status is quality care. But I am also aware that therapy should be tailored to the person. You see, in a world that is now filled with perfectly posed Facebook photos and filtered Instagram posts, it has become even harder to lead an authentic life. Lacking authenticity prevents us from leaning into our vulnerability, and avoiding vulnerability keeps us from asking for help.
Something that I have noticed with working with my own population is that Millennials are now “wondering ‘Who am I in this world that is constantly changing? There isn’t a predictable path forward for me to fall into,’ While previous generations — people now in their 40s, 50s and 60s — often repressed those uncertainties until later in life, today’s millennials address them earlier and more openly. Many millennial clients feel they should be further along in their lives and careers than they are. I work with normalizing things— telling them it’s normal not to be married at 24. It’s normal…not to launch your career and be successful at 28 and ruling the world at 28. (Although some have done it, it is not everyone’s story)
Maybe you don’t have a DSM-V diagnosis, but feeling stuck, nervous, or unsure is as good a reason as any to seek counseling. Therapy does not solely exist for those who are struggling on the severe side of the mental health spectrum. It is designed to help you improve your quality of life in whatever way makes sense to you. The therapy process can allow us to adjust to big life changes like career shifts or cross-country moves, and it can help us navigate important decisions.
Emerging adulthood presents us with heavy stressors, but you don’t have to go through all of it alone. We can all benefit from a healthy outlet for processing and exploring. Consider therapy as yours. To my fellow millennials out there and those who work with us what are your thoughts.
As always thanks for reading,
L. Nicole Edwards, LCSW