Nearly two years ago I noticed the degree to which people are underestimating today's 18 to 20-somethings. For the driven anomalies of Generation-Y, it's as if trying to finish our stats homework between conference calls made us less credible. I noticed that the stigma associated with being a millennial caused my generation to become exceedingly intimidated by those more experienced and less confident in our own ability to deliver.
As a senior in high school, I discovered an uncommon degree of success hidden behind a 17-year-old who faced more personal adversity than he felt he could handle. And looking back, trivial as those issues may have been, they did propel me into an early career that I was vaguely familiar with.
It took a lot of late nights reflecting for me to realize that writing and storytelling would become my passion. But I also learned that stories drive the human experience. I have met people from all around the world who have amazing untold tales and when I was writing my first book, I found that I could use my interpretations of those tales to shift the way millennials approach their day-to-day; with less intimidation and more confidence. In doing so, I established and adopted a few rules that will give millennials a competitive edge in any pursuit -- professional or personal.
- Own transparency: What are we hiding? Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, we now live in a fishbowl. Through the power of social media, millennials have been raised thinking that it's OK to be a little dishonest as long as we're appearing externally glamorous. And for what? 100+ Instagram likes and an envy-inspiring Snapchat story? If we're not living up to the things we truly identify with, it's only a matter of time before somebody taps the glass and points it out for us. When we audit ourselves as individuals, not everything we have done in life is going to shine. But in a transparent world that makes us real. Our lives, both digital and physical, should live up to the most authentic representation of who we really are and who we want to become.
- Embrace hard conversations: What's the one word I hate more than anything else? "Awkward." Why? Because when everything is "awkward," nothing is. This word has crippled millennials and prevented them from initiating any kind of difficult face-to-face confrontation. I am here to tell you that face-to-face is everything. There are some things that simply cannot be expressed via our iPhone's. Hard conversations evoke emotions and feelings that legitimize our ability to feel anything at all. My only disappointment with being a member of the most socially connected generation in history is that it has taught us all to "beat" this system and avoid real communication. Be bold. Make your feelings known, and embrace the acceptance or rejection that you receive from it. Either way, you will learn something about yourself, and really, what more can you ask of a given situation?
- Do something that matters: It doesn't matter what it is, as long as it matters to you. I wake up every morning with this personal vision of who I hope to become as a result of the path that I have chosen to travel. It's important to go to sleep with a dream and wake up the next morning with an intention. Remember: Only action is real.
- Value yourself, and crush constraints: In the past few years I have learned that setbacks of any kind ultimately cannot prevent somebody from living a purposeful life. What you're here to do is important. Fear presents itself when there is not security in knowing exactly what it is you're here to do. But it's time to start exploring, because guess what? Second and third places exist. We are all given an opportunity to do something meaningful and if we don't take that opportunity then someone else will. Sure, mistakes will be made, but don't be afraid to take the world by storm anyway. Taking chances will eliminate any constraints you think might exist.
It's time to start capitalizing on our age, millennials. In life, it is important to be aware of your inexperience. But it's equally important to be confident in your potential--because when you really think about it, our memories, our hopes, our fears and our ideas synthesize so that we may all find our place in this noisy, social world.