Millennials: You Gotta Love Them!

By VIN SPARANO | Nov 06, 2019

I read a news story last year that made me think that maybe I no longer fit in this world. The article was titled  “Burned-Out Millennials Are Quitting Lucrative Jobs.” The report said the ever-contrarian millennial generation is reinventing the traditional concept of employment. They’re quitting their jobs, without worrying about what they will do next.

Sarah, a 20-something, said, “I need to be free to manage myself.” And then there’s Tim, 26, who said he saw his whole life flash before his eyes: 50-hour work weeks, measly 10 days of vacation a year and he didn’t like it “one bit.”

If you are not familiar with millennials, they are those born between 1980 and 1995. Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964. I was born in 1934. They don’t even have an acceptable category for guys like me!

I got my first job in 1960 and I’m still working today, nearly 60 years later. There’s nothing really spectacular about that. Most of my friends are doing the same thing. We raised baby boomers, sent them to college, married them off and then started to babysit their millennials. When they needed support, we were always there for them.

However, unlike Tim and Sarah, we never really had time to “be free to manage our lives.”

Am I picking on millennials? Not at all. They have a bucket list, but they put it in front of their lives, not at the tail end like me and most of my friends. What’s wrong with this concept? Nothing, if that’s your take on living today. There are still lots of things on my bucket list, but I can no longer pursue them because the years have taken away my gait. I’m not sorry, but I sometimes wish I had put some of them on the front end of my life.

I don’t think I was wrong for all those decades of work. It was a good work ethic. But I keep wondering what I would have done differently during my millennial years. Would I have quit my job and gone surfing in Australia? Or joined a circus ... or maybe have been a beach bum in Hawaii selling coconuts for beer? I suspect that I would have started to feel guilty, but who knows back then, when I would have been in my 20s?

I sometimes find myself learning from millennials. They are free thinkers not intimidated by the rules of right and wrong that we lived by during our many years. Some of these young people like lots of tattoos and some put nasty-looking screws through their ears and noses. This body hardware would not have been acceptable to most of us when we were the same ages, but today they don’t seem to care. The millennials are certainly not growing up in the same world that we did.

I keep getting emails lamenting the loss of the old days when life was simpler and uncluttered ... and that’s certainly true. But our lives weren’t always a piece of cake. We always had conflicts, and we learned to handle them. We didn’t escape and take off for Australia or Hawaii.

As I said, some of these young people decided to experience their bucket list at the front end of their lives. I might be a bit jealous, but when I reflect on my past years, I know I made the right choices. Selling coconuts on a beach in Hawaii would probably have been a bad idea anyway.

Vin Sparano of Waretown, N.J., was a year-round resident of High Bar Harbor for over 20 years. His LBI roots go back decades.





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