I fell in love with the kids, we're calling them millennials
Something astounding was happening in the world and I was unaware. I was hiding in my cocoon — sitting on my couch with my favourite coffee mug. I had even wrapped up myself in a blanket. I was cosy and content. The hair on my crown had begun to turn a new shade, grey to be specific. I had begun to outrightly refuse any ‘catching up’ invites that involved meeting at places that played music at an ear-deafening volume. I was promoting clean eating, regular exercising and fixed hours of sleep to everyone. I was at peace. Little did I know that it wasn’t going to last for long.
This was an evening in the early months of 2017. Outside my window, a revolution was taking place. I was not part of it. The world was getting noisier, busier, and if I must say, crazier too. I was not hoping to escape, I didn’t want to. However, I was convinced that I would want to duck at a few specific moments. The revolution was being led by boys and girls, younger than me. We were calling them millennials and their revolution was titled youthquake.
That’s how I fell in love with the millennials.
With a thud, with reluctance, with precaution, and with the perennial doubt — ‘Do we have a future?’ But then, love is like that, right? It comes unannounced. At times, it shocks us. On other occasions, it makes us giggle for reasons unknown. It turns our world upside down. It makes us conscious and we begin to guard ourselves. We turn into rebels, sans a trigger. And irrespective of how much we fool ourselves on our control over the emotion — in the end, we turn into hopelessly romantic victims.
This is me making a confession in the last month of 2017.
It started with a project. I was to work with them
These new colleagues didn’t come dressed in tea dresses or plaid pants, but in ripped denim. Fur slippers are their preferred footwear choice. None of them address me as ma’am — I don’t think it has ever crossed their mind to. First names and humorous names are preferred. Our conversations during lunch hours are interesting. Nobody wants to talk about impending deadlines and work politics. Rather, Huda Beauty’s mascara or Elon Musk’s plan to send Tesla to Mars is the highlight. When they engage in online shopping, they base it on what’s trending, economical, and what reflects their personalities.
They are addicted to the idea of success and they know how to achieve it. When they get down to work, they give in their ‘Hundo P’ (hundred per cent) and don’t frown. What they haven’t picked up in colleges and universities, they’re comfortable picking it from us, the non-millennials, or YouTube; they don’t discriminate. Yes, they’re egoistic and stubborn. We argue, like partners, finding it hard to please the other.
I watch them lay down their own goals, followed by strategies to achieve them. They’re willing to go local, global or at the root level to make ‘it’ happen. Courtesy of them, I’ve picked up words that once upon a time I felt needed to be debated upon — on their origin, usage, and pronunciation. “We ‘savaged’ it” is how we congratulate one another on a job well done. I have been a subject of Instagram Stories, this when I don’t have an Insta account. I have noticed I have become greedy to hear their stories and experiences. Just like they want to know how things happened ‘in my days’. We’re getting along.
Of course, our romance (and my world!) has come to be defined by a phone that never stops to beep — if they have an idea, news, a goal, an experience or even a piece of gossip — they don’t want to waste a moment in sharing it with me or one another. ‘We should get on it, NOW!’ This urgency, energy and passion to know everything about the most trivial and most significant issue is addictive. They’re curious — Why is clocking fixed hours a job necessity? Why do we need to be paid in cash, why not experiences — switch zip-lining sessions for a month’s salary? Why do we have to pay a fee to enter museums — shouldn’t learning be free? The to-do-lists they make are for keepsakes — lose weight before New Year (even if it is less than a day away!), figure out a way to gain 10K followers on a social media channel, design an app, which can perform the Ctrl + F function in any situation — to find a hairbrush in the handbag or a friend at a concert, drop in a quick line to Mark Zuckerberg to see if he can help. They’re not scared to fail or be judged, so they speak their minds, brazenly — asking questions and providing answers.
And it seems that I am not the only one listening to them. We all are. They have our attention.
Does it make me feel old? No. Does it make me feel younger? No.
Do I wish for a second chance at ‘youth’? No.
I just feel that ‘We do have a future, together.’ We’re committed.
The millennials are unwilling to rest or even pause, and so here I am, the romantic victim, caught in between Snapchat filters and #lifegoals. And thanks to them, I am ‘woke’ (knowing what’s going on)! I don’t wish to duck.
As for the view outside my window, it is ‘shook’ by the revolution, the phenomenon now called a #youthquake.
This piece was first published in Khaleej Times.