Maybe Withhold Your Advice

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I was born in 1969. That makes me 44, soon to be 45. Generation X. That’s me hiking somewhere in Colorado in 1996.

I don’t feel 45 and I can still clearly recall what life was like in my 20’s.

When you’re in your 20’s you don’t think much about getting old. Why should you? Whether you realize it or not, you will never look this good again. You are most likely healthier and more indestructible than you will ever be in your life (trust me on this millennials, do what you can to keep your back healthy – you will need it later). You even have all of your hair. It’s a raucously joyous time.

Stayed up late partying and bar hopping until 2am with friends? No problem. You’ll bounce back easily for that 8am wake up

Twisted your knee playing a pickup game of hoops? Don’t give it a second thought – you’ll be running again pain free in a day or two.

It’s a wonderful feeling – that time in your life when you are on your own, wondrously free of aches and pains, and literally bursting with potential and possibilities.

And yet, it’s a scary time too.

Safety nets are gone. Money is a real issue and at some point you will need it, not only to afford food and the rent, but to also help get you where you wish to go.

I read an interesting article earlier this week on TechCrunch concerning leaked emails written by the the founder of SnapChat, Evan Spiegel, during his undergrad time at Stanford.  

Apparently these were not very flattering emails. Full of coarse language and bordering on sexist, they were sophomoric, juvenile and pretty brutal. They were also written by an 18 year old, in his first year of college.

The author was, predictably, up in arms, as it appears everyone is these days whenever a teenager acts like, well, a teenager. According to him it was also yet another example of kids these days lacking values, direction and a moral compass. You would have thought Mr. Spiegel had murdered someone.

I half expected him to end his diatribe with a reminder to stay off his lawn.

I call this “bitter, old guy syndrome” and it can usually be found in older (typically 40-50 somethings) writers, analysts, reporters or simply people who feel a surprisingly strong need to pass along to others (typically 20 somethings) their unsolicited wisdom. In the past few months alone there have been articles in Slate, Inc., Forbes and now TechCrunch, all bemoaning the work ethic and values of Millennials.

What I find most interesting about these article is that they were written for the most part by my own generation X brothers and sisters who were ironically pigeonholed with these exact same attributes 20 years ago.

Perusing these essays, you can almost see the authors at their desks, shaking their heads in frustration, unable to comprehend that, for the most part, a twenty something does not appreciate or even want their unsolicited advice.

It should be obvious that every generation wishes to experience life on their own terms, making their own mistakes, learning and growing according to their own timeframes and milestones, not someone else’s. I remember feeling that way.

That’s how it all works, and that’s why each individual’s experiences will eventually shape them and take them down their own unique life path.

We are, for better or for worse, human. It’s in our nature to explore, to push beyond boundaries and to oftentimes make a mess of things. That’s how we roll.

We live, we make mistakes, we fall down, we get up, we do it again and again until we learn not to make those same mistakes again.

Rinse and repeat.

We also grow as individuals and hopefully become better people as we age. I always say that life is messy and it never turns out like you think it will.

No matter how much advice you are given.

Matthew Achak

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