Millennials and Measuring Sticks

CC image by Alexey Kljatov

My generation, this crazy Generation Y, seems to be fixated on the idea that we’re all special, all called to be “great.” We follow our passions come hell or high water—come ruined relationships, gross financial debt, or even the fact that we aren’t all that talented (gasp!). Because we’re revolutionary, every one of us! And we must show the world, for anything short is failure. Is it just me, or can you guys feel the pressure in here too?

In response, I can’t help but ponder, why is it so damn important to be the best, to make a fortune (before you’re 25), to become famous? Now, don’t get me wrong—I think everybody needs to have goals, to have passions that fuel them, things they strive to accomplish. If these passions can bless our world, all the better, and my generation seems to truly want to improve the world in which we live. But the idea that we’ve failed if we allow ourselves to be content with a “simple” life (a God who loves us, family, a job, food every day) disgusts me. Maybe part of the reason is because I feel pulled in both directions myself—between my passion of writing and “real” life.

The result for me is a feeling that I should always be somewhere else. I’m doing chores? I should be writing. I’m writing book two in my series? I should be running errands. I’m organizing lit mags to submit to? I should be walking my dogs. It’s uncomfortable.

CC image by Scott Beale

CC image by Scott Beale

I feel guilty when I’m not writing, when I’m not actively pursuing my passion at any given moment. When I’m doing life in the here and now, taking care of my home, making phone calls, etc. I still feel guilty. And I’ve decided that’s stupid. Yes, I adore writing. It’s a passion and a drive I can’t even explain, and I certainly value any time I spend putting words to paper. But sometimes, it’s too much. It consumes my mind too fully, gets its hooks in too deep. Like falling down the rabbit hole, I tumble from the real world and into the writing world, unsure of how to climb out. I must merge these two worlds, adjust their sizes in relation to one another, because my heart and time just aren’t sufficient for dashing between two full-sized universes.

Whatever your creative passion is, and particularly if you’re of my generation, I encourage you to examine where your energy is best spent. If you’re a writer like me, your energy is probably not best spent pushing a cursor across the screen. Well spent, sure, but not best spent. Enjoy that cursor and the feeling of propelling it forward, certainly. But don’t make it your ultimate focus and aspiration to do so.

As important as writing is to me, as all-consuming as it can be, it can never replace the things that matter most—the God who loved me first, my husband, my family and friends, my critters. Because in the end, I could write the greatest novel in the world, but it doesn’t mean shit. My novel will never whisper to my heart like Christ does if I worship it. It can’t love me back. I can’t watch it discover and grow as I will my future kids. It can’t take care of me when I’m old and I can’t take it with me when I die. Invest in your passions, yes, but don’t get to your last inhale and realize your passions ruled you rather than enriched your life. Don’t get to the end and only then see the people around you, the LIFE around you that you missed while you were so focused on being revolutionary.

CC image by Michael Yan

CC image by Michael Yan

I’m content with my “simple” life. Are you, Millennial? Because the reality is, while you should follow your passions/creative pursuits with fervor, don’t make them bigger than they are. Don’t compare your success to the perceived successes of your generation. As Ann Voskamp said, “Walk through life with a measuring stick and your eyes get so small you never see God.” So keep your eyes open and see what matters most.

By Madeleine Mozley