The Ante-Millennial

Published by Glenwood Springs Post Independent on August 7, 2018

Six years ago, my husband and I bought our first smartphones as tools to more conveniently capture thousands of pictures of our (then) new baby and share them with the ravening hordes of out-of-state family. But a year later, we ditched said smartphones after finding ourselves sitting on the couch every night with screens between us.

Until this last March, we stubbornly clung to our flip-phones, wielding them as talismans against the change in the world we weren’t yet ready to embrace. There were no downsides for us, besides regularly frustrating all of our co-workers, until I began freelance writing this winter. It quickly became apparent that the necessity of self-promotion in the freelance industry would require a seamless connection to the pulsing currents of social media. So our tax returns brought in two iPhone SEs, and we are working a little harder at self-regulation.

I share this story because, although I was born in 1984 and am a millennial by the broadest definition, I often find myself at odds with the projected stereotypes and themes of that generation. For example, just after turning 19, I moved 1,500 miles away from my parents and have paid all my own bills ever since. I kept a low overhead, and survived paycheck to paycheck for many years. Now I own two mortgages (and about 400 square feet of the houses attached to them) and have three kids. I graduated college in 2010, and have already managed to erase the minimal loans I took to do it.

On the other hand, in homage to my millennial traits, I feel the need to acknowledge loudly that I’ve only been able to accomplish all of this because of the enormous privileges with which I was raised. Although my family was never exactly well off, I was given love, education, inspiration, security and encouragement every step of the way.

Other ways in which I find myself queing up with “adults under 35” is that I fully embrace risk and change when it comes to my professional goals, searching for fulfillment and joy instead of security and longevity. My husband and I prioritize experience and travel over the accumulation of stuff, and our family camps and rafts as much as possible in the summer, to the detriment of our lawn. The ‘Joneses’ are definitely winning in our neighborhood.

When it comes to politics, I am more and more falling between the cracks of party lines as well. But after this last year, I am giving up on those opinions for a while, tired of the inability of either side to acknowledge the nudity of their respective emperors.

And I don’t think I’m alone. Although our society encourages the adoption of simplistic labels for oneself, and force-feeds us the false need for identity politics, most people fall somewhere in between. “Baby boomers” and “millennials” have common ground to find, but it is often drowned under waves of miscommunications and media-fueled feuds.

In fact, it is pretty ridiculous that with more ways to connect with complete strangers than ever before in human history, we are further apart from each other than ever.

It is with this in mind that I am launching my new column theme, and I even have a nerdy little pun for the title.

‘THE ANTE-MILLENNIAL’

Ante being the Latin for “before” rather than anti, or “against,” I plan to look at issues with perceived generational gaps and make fun of both perspectives as much as I can. With almost 15 years of residence in the Roaring Fork Valley, and two and a half years of opinion column writing for the Post Independent, I look forward to providing local relevance for these larger issues as well.

Some topics of discussion will include entitlement, professional goals, housing opportunities, debt and financial priorities, environmental values, social norms and “safe” spaces, education and avocado toast.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, and I’m sure many will disagree with me along the way, but I look forward to exposing common ground through mutual appreciation of the ridiculous and maybe develop a little empathy for the different lives being lived side by side in our valley.

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