Yes, it’s true. I have reached that magical age where I am told I look great … for my age. I’m not sure that’s a compliment! Compliment or not, that phrase brought to mind all the many judgments and assumptions we make about people based on age.
Here’s what I think about this whole generational divide. We make it bigger than it really is. Many of us forget that at one point, it was our generation that was going to ruin the world or save it, depending on which side of that divide a person was sitting on.
I was reading an article the other day on this very topic and the author said something along the lines of “as we get older, our adventure window starts to close and we view those with their windows wide open as suspect.” Millennials don’t have the years of experience we have. Many have wide open adventure windows. They haven’t learned to back away from opportunity because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” That’s a good thing, but slightly off putting for those of us who have.
Another author said “Why don’t we just view everyone as a person first?” A great question! When we lump people into a category, we assume everyone in that category views the world around them the exact same way. That has never been true for any generation. In every generation, there are are leaders and followers. There are people who push boundaries and those who prefer to live well within the boundaries of the current norm. It is the people who push, who question and who perhaps sometimes demand instead of ask, that create change.
We can all learn from each other. And for those of us who’ve been around a little longer, I believe we have the obligation to create environments where open dialogue happens. Let’s not expect the young and the brash to already know the lessons it took us years to learn.
Let’s crack our adventure window open just a little wider and let’s not take those back-handed compliments personally. Be patient with the eye-rolling and sometimes condescending attitudes the younger folks give us. After all, someday they will be on the receiving end of them and wondering just how quickly those darn kids are going to destroy all the good they created!