Delayed Adulthood. Social scientist have developed this term to describe the slow progression Millennials are making towards achieving the same marks of maturity (buying a house, getting married, having children, and settling on a career) that were set by generations before them. In this article We millennials lack a roadmap to adulthood, Stafford talks about the struggle Millennials face in finding their purpose and direction.
Much to my Mother’s dismay, I can strongly relate. At the age of 25, I’m nowhere near where my grandparents were at my age decades ago. I don’t own a home, I’m currently single, I have no desire for children, and I’m still searching of what I want to do with my life. While I have a great hopes and dreams for the journey ahead, I don’t necessarily aspire for the same ideals of the generations before me. Even more frustrating is the societal judgment disseminating from generations who have chosen a more traditional path that isn’t for me. However, I think there is a simple solution for building generational competence.
Bridging the Generational Divide
In reading Stafford’s article (and many others like it), I had an epiphany! The key to bridging the generational divide is simple: intergenerational friendship. In this article Generation Power, Landry echoes my assumption. Individuals in all generations benefit from having older and younger perspectives in their life. With life expectancies continuing to climb, different generations need to learn to get along.
Mature and Wise
Despite the fact that I can commiserate with the Millennial experience, I’m shocked by the number of people that comment on how mature I am for my age. I relish in not exhibiting the standard stereotypes of narcissism, entitlement, and naivety that are bestowed on many of my peers. In large part, I’ve attributed my mature exterior to the steady stream of the older and wiser company I keep. I’ve always strived to keep a diverse set of friends around me – allowing me to see the value of varying generational perspectives.
Looking back on my life, much of my generational competence was formed through the lens of the older friends I had. Through hearing their viewpoints on various issues, I acquired empathy. In turn, I was also able to explain various aspects of my generation that often leaves older generations scratching their heads.
Young and Full of Life
While I’m still relatively young, I’m approaching my 8th year of adulating (which is terrifying!). As I look around at the individuals who surround me in my day-to-day, the strange reality is I’m no longer the youngest. It’s not uncommon for me to roll my eyes when hearing younger coworkers recount their weekends. Given the negative stereotypes that are placed on my generation, I really don’t want to fall into the trip of begrudging youth.
What I’m learning is that there is value to be gained from every age group. I often ask the same younger coworkers advice on how to navigate social media applications like Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. While I may not choose to elicit their advice on how I should invest for my retirement, they are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to pop culture. In short, their youth, creativity and optimism are valuable.
Bettering Generational Connections
Do you see the value in expanding your circle to encompass a broader range of viewpoints and experiences? Are you a young Millennial that wants to acquire life lessons, or a Baby Boomer that wants to understand the viewpoints of the future? If so, try out these 5 tips Landry offers.
- Generational Assessment. Do your friends make up a diverse blend of generations? If not, start by acknowledging your generational bias and strive to make connections with individuals outside of your comfort zone.
- Connect Authentically. Make sure to develop a greater sense of empathy for different generation. Ask them open-ended questions with open ears.
- Find Your Bliss. Find a common interest and build your relationship around it.
- Advocate for Your Generation. It’s not all about listening. Once you have demonstrated that you are open to the viewpoints of your older or younger friend, make sure you strive to convey your generational view as well.
- Build Bridges for Your Life. As you progress through life, make sure to keep the same sense of open-minded views when it comes to different generations. Life is a journey, and it’s better when experienced together.