It is normal to assume that the perspective your grandfather holds on your new partner who has multiple piercings, bright green hair and maybe even some face tattoos, may not be the same perspective you have on their suitability to be in a relationship with you. The generational gap is inevitable and very hard to overcome because so much of it is based upon experience within that age group. Even just between a parent and their child, the difference in age is greatly felt, especially in moments of deviation from what that parent envisioned for their child.
I have felt the difference in perspective between my parents and me quite strongly because we have already realized that sometimes their expectations of me are not what I want and do not make me happy. For example, my father expects me to do well in all my classes and try my best to understand and excel. But when I have been placed in classes where the teacher has no passion to teach, the curriculum is outdated and poorly constructed and the class makes no sense to me, then trying my best does not really hold an appeal. If I feel the teacher is not actively engaged in trying to help me learn, then why would I want to put all my effort into learning something that does not excite me?
Sometimes I have felt justified in my differing perspective on an issue compared to my parents, but I did not argue my case because I felt I was missing a key part of their judgmental process. That, to me, is their strength. My parents are stronger than me and therefore I feel I must acquiesce to their outlook for my life. Their strength comes from their life experiences manifested in wisdom, which is something I can obtain with time as I age. But my parents also have an inner strength that I believe they have held all their lives and that I fear I may never obtain.
I am not talking in terms of physical strength, like my parents can each bench 200 pounds easy and therefore their reasoning is better than mine. I mean mental strength. If any reader remembers those memes that say from the point of view of a parent “back in my day we used to walk seven miles to school in a blizzard,” I feel like they relate a lot to my relationship with my parents. My parents do not constantly remind me how they walked seven miles to get to school every day, but I do recognize the great differences in our childhoods and how much easier mine is.
The clearest example I can think of when someone asks me to define my weaknesses compared to my parents’ strengths is in times of emergency. The memory that comes to mind most vividly, and hauntingly, is when we were in Germany and my sister had her first seizure. I was sleeping on the upper part of a bunk bed and woke up to my mom screaming my name. I jumped down groggily and turned the corner to see my sister convulsing in my mother’s arms. “Go get Dad!” my mom yelled. But I did not go get my dad. I was frozen. My mom was already getting my sister down and on her side and moving her tongue so it would not be bitten, moving efficiently and with precision to make sure my sister would not hurt herself. She was so sure of herself, so confident in her actions even with someone else’s life on the line. But once I was finally jolted into action, all I could force my frightened brain to do was sprint down the hall to my father and sob hopelessly, gesturing to him until he understood to go find help. Both of my parents are trained in the medical field and in the military, having been in the Navy and the Special Forces respectively. And I know I should keep that in mind when I think back to how I reacted compared to how my parents were able to quickly assess the situation and then determine their next move to keep my sister alive. But I also cannot help but feel like there is some impassable barrier keeping me from the strength and capability of my parents’ generation.
Is it bad that my childhood was easier than my parents was? Sure, I never had to walk seven miles in my life for education, but does that mean I am inherently lacking the mental grit of my ancestors and am therefore inferior intellectually?
Whenever I hear people make some snarky comment about “millennials” and how “we are all doomed,” I am not sure how to feel. The generations before mine experienced a rougher life, yes, without the ease of technological advancements and worldwide health care. But that is an endless cycle, because progress always pushes forward. So my children someday will have, perhaps, an even easier life than I did.
I personally do not think millennials are bad and I truly believe out of all the evils in this world, this generation is not going to be the one to bring the world to its knees. In fact, I believe millennials are so criticized and persecuted because they are introducing a major change in the human outlook on life from past generations. Millennials as a whole are, in my opinion, much more willing to sympathize and empathize than their ancestors. I have heard many a person crudely remark, “Oh look, another millennial who of course want to talk about their feelings.” But honestly, the only way to start solving problems like the supposedly highly advanced race we arrogantly proclaim ourselves to be is to not go out and kill by the thousands those we disagree with, but by starting to share our feelings with them.