By: Jenni Taylor
There has been a barrage of articles the past few years aimed at my particular age-group, you know the 20-somethings often ever-so-kindly referred to as “Millennials”. If you believe these articles, you know that we are considered over-educated, under-paid or jobless, a little lazy, idealistic, media-centric, and we do large amounts of classy wine consumption and have a disinterest in politics. To this constantly over-generalized, under-estimated group of my peers I would like to say:
We need you. Desperately.
You, my dear one, are in the perfect position to change the world right now. You can take all the criticism the media has been throwing at us and use it.
On a recent trip to Cambodia, I visited a married couple who fit the 20-something prototype and worked every bit of it to their advantage.
Cambodia has received a slew of NGO bandage programs in the last few decades to help restore the country after years of violence. I refer to them as bandage programs because while they were desperately needed at the time, a few years later many of them have proven to be unsustainable, disorganized, and sorely lacking solid, informed leadership with long term goals in sight.
These two people I visited are learning the language, building connections with the people, working with existing programs to create change. They are using every aspect of the media’s generalizations about 20-somethings –their “over-education”, their “search for purpose” and their “naïve idealism”– to create professions of love.
As I walked with them, they would greet and chat with their neighbors. I saw faces light up as these two “over-educated” and “lazy” Millennials struggled through their Khamai, with laughter and gestures thrown in for good measure. I saw relationships being created one step at a time.
I saw them study, read, talk and pray, as the navigated the waters to enter into leadership for a new foster care program aimed at education and healing for families. What I saw, more than anything else, were two ordinary 20-somethings searching for meaning by doing their best to make a difference. It was beautiful.
If this speaks to you, if you are a 20-something experiencing the lost feelings and search for purpose that so many articles claim is essential to our identity, please—explore those feelings, ignore the hype, get up and go. Use everything in your brain, everything those large college loans paid for, to make the world a better place. You have skills. You are needed. Use the Millennial stereotypes to your advantage. Strike back and turn your job into profession of love.
If this speaks to you, please don’t hesitate to contact Autumn or Jenni through firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to provide more information about professional NGOs looking for the help of passionate professionals. Also, please send your own stories of how you created a profession of love so we can share it with others!