Special

Truth - No two people are the same. While that may be an infallible truth, we are more alike than we sometimes like to acknowledge. In another sense, there are just many things that make us unique as there are things that make us similar. We're exceptional but not the exceptions. We're complicatedly simple and also simply complicated. We're special and we're not special.

"You can't help getting older, but you don't have to get old" George Burns
The rhetoric targeted at the millennial continually seems to get worse and worse each year, or maybe I'm just more cognizant of all the stereotypes others put on us, and the ones I was part of creating for myself. Millennials are hailed as the generation of narcissism, superficiality, social media, entitlement, idealism, and restlessness among other things. My issue with those stereotypes is not that they're necessarily wrong, but rather that they are remarkably limiting and leave little to no room in the margins for error. Generalizations paint with broad brush and quick strokes, the minutiae of who I am and how I am is more inartistically detailed than that. When we generalize we miss the nuances, quirks, and subtleties. Generalizations should be speak to larger observable trends in phenomena but they can also the silence the narrative of one and self-determination. Stereotypes serve a purpose - quick judgments to determine how to act - but relying on them without critique or closer observation is just as dangerous as pretending they are not our baseline for all we encounter.

I'm tired of millennials being blamed for just about everything these days. Is it wrong for us to believe what others told us about the world? Is our idealism really so unrealistic? Why shouldn't we strive for more, to be better, and to create a society that is more loving, inclusive, and collaborative? There's no use in combatting the stereotypes. People will believe what they want about us. We can play into them, work against them, or simply not allow them to deter us from what we're hoping to get out of life. Every generation creates a sort of cultural revolution and ours is focused on fulfillment, passion, and innovation. Chasing down our dreams, the ones that others said we should have, that's our right. There's nothing selfish about prioritizing our own fulfillment, multifaceted (mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual) health, and well-being over others. We saw and continue to see what neglecting oneself does to a person. Doing it by any means necessary, well that's up to us to decide. We should be uncompromising in our ethics and values but it's a give and take. If the opportunities we seek are not out there then we have the means to create them. The world owes us nothing, and we are not entitled to any damn thing, but what we deserve is an equal chance to make something out of ourselves. We might be like everyone else, but we're also not - treat us as individuals, judge us on the content of our character not the identities we hold, and listen just as often as you speak to us. We will change this world, with or without your help - that is a promise we can make.
Something I have wrestled with for as long as I can remember is this notion of being special. I remember my parents, family, teachers, and countless other people drilling in to me how special I was/am. They would say that there is no one like me; that no one can do the things I can do the way I do them. It was affirming, empowering, and gave me a self-confidence that moved me through the majority of my life. I internalized that and held on to it for so long. Then there came challenges that I couldn't overcome and I came to realize that maybe I was not so special after all. It wasn't a sense of entitlement or that the world owed me anything, simply because I was me, but rather I believed I could do absolutely anything I set my mind to. That was not and is not true. Those encouragements should come with cautious contextualizations or at least adult versions that add some reality to them. I don't blame the crowd of supporters that continually pushed me onwards and upwards; when we learn to think for ourselves we are then also tasked with taking responsibility for what we believe. That aforementioned context is something you gain from life experience, and a lesson I learned the hard way but it was the most effective way for the point to be made. I am special in some ways, and able to do some things strikingly well, but in other ways I am inept. That's okay though. I'm not meant to be good at everything; in fact that would remove the challenge from it all. Challenge is what forces us to grow, change, and move forward.

Don't ever buy into the hype. The day we start to believe our own promulgation is the day we are no longer worthy of all the ballyhoo, hubbub, and uproar. Humility and gratitude, staying grounded, and remaining accessible is what makes us decent. Now more than ever it's important to own our talents, know our privileges and remain humble, especially when it comes to creating opportunity for others to showcase their gifts. We should use our platform to amplify others just as much as we do ourselves. We're givers, so let's be generous so that others may do the same. There's a fine line between self-awareness and self-promotion. We have to toe it day by day and tread carefully. Others should know who we are, what we value, and the caliber of person we are in the ways that we carry ourselves, communicate, and act. The summation of what makes us so special has to deliver the message of what makes us stand out and what we have to offer the world that no one else can. We have to reify our communal individuality day by day, moment by moment, and person to person. We must know we are special deep within ourselves, and remain steadfast in that, whether others are able to recognize/articulate it or not. X

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