Why did I think this sad excuse for bad behavior died? Are we continuing to follow the fist pumping Bieberish outliers that are still using what could be a call to live life to the fullest in their antics? Are we? Are we still allowing the media to continue giving the Millennials a bad name by highlighting the “no regrets” madness of the few? Are we?
You only live once, YOLO, simply isn’t true. I’ve lived at least four lifetimes already in my sixty years and each life change was spurred on by a regret. As Joan Didion puts it, I’ve let go of several people I used to be. The thing about each regret is it wasn’t realized at the time of the occurrence. It is with hind sight, always 20/20, that I could see the regret clearly but somehow I made the life change at the time anyway. I find that fascinating.
How will people be able to realize these life changes if they assign the concept of YOLO in such extremes? I worry that a generation may be lost to not embracing the power of making a mistake and learning from it. That their quest for overindulgences and momentary rash decisions will bring them to an early grave. That there might not be any mindfulness to their decisions and that their only legacy will be their sudden demise. I’ve been thinking about this all week.
And then I realize the media is undeniably at work here. Portraits of the crazy younger generations sells advertising, God knows we did. But as I look around at the young people I know, my trust is restored. For instance a young man I know is just beginning to realize he needs an adventure, not the drive on the edge of a cliff kind of adventure but a change. He’s realizing, in advance, that if he doesn’t follow his heart and seek out those things that give him joy he might never have the opportunity again, he wants no regrets. So in some sense he’s planning but at the same time remaining open to possibility. He’s exploring but remaining cognizant of the effects his decision will have on his family. He’s not struggling with the fact that his family might be hurt or disappointed but mindful that it might happen and prepared to address it. He gets the carpe diem spirit of you only live once.
These are the members of the Millennial generation that need to be celebrated and highlighted. For all their faults and all their perceived entitlements we may have some culpability here; we left them quite a mess to contend with. For all we know most of them, are planning adventures and creating alternate lifestyles that will change the world just as we Boomers did. I think we just need to ask them.
The more I open my mind to them the more I see them as a generation of alternatives. These are the people foregoing the big fancy weddings and concentrating on the marriage, these are the people coming into and helping to revive the cities. Forcing changes to old housing standards like the McMansion. These are the minimalists. These are the people that might just put the automotive business in a tizzy.
I still believe that YOLO in its pop culture manifestation threatens to send life down the drain but my faith in those truly trying to live without regrets will continue to be restored by those simply living their lives the way they want their story told. My kind of people.