What I’ve Accomplished as a Millennial

February 20, 2014

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had to change my definition of success more times than I could count. If you had asked me what that word meant at fifteen, I probably would have said a mansion in LA, an acting career, and a supermodel on my arm. In college, I would have settled for merely a high paying aerospace job and a place of my own to call home. Nowadays, I tend to equate success with feelings rather than material things.

What do I want out of life? To be happy, comfortable, well fed, well rested, surrounded by friends, loved by someone special, and physically capable. Part of me still feels a twinge of envy when I see others my age with unmistakable signs of my earlier dreams of success, but if I take the time to think about it – and, at times, it is difficult – I don’t regret a thing that brought me to where I am today.

I’m not your typical millennial. Oh sure, I fit the textbook criteria you see espoused in articles and editorials when someone rags on Generation Y…

– Born in 1982
– University educated
– Lived at home (off and on) since graduation
– No stable job
– Not insured
– Single

…but, I’m definitely not one of them. I may have been at an advantage from birth, being given the privilege of attending private school and having my college tuition paid by my parents, but after graduation, I was in the same boat as everyone else; job opportunities sucked, and I found myself questioning why I should follow the example of my parents’ generation and work a job merely to have one. I didn’t believe I should have everything handed to me on a silver platter. I supported the idea of an honest day’s work, but what I lacked was direction, where I should focus my energies to truly live, not just coast through life for the sake of income.

In this sense, my fellow millennials and I are in sync. But whereas some of them felt they had no options but to be underemployed and living at home, I chose a path that unfortunately few care to follow: living abroad. My greatest asset is my ability and willingness to relocate anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice. Teaching position in Korea? Sign me up. Market research in the Philippines? I’ll use my miles to get to Cebu. Being willing to take that first step, abandon my furniture and lease, and just hop a plane to Japan, was the most defining moment separating me from the masses.

I have plenty of friends my age who are well off financially, already married with kids, and have a home to their name. My home is wherever I choose. I don’t keep an apartment in San Francisco – it would be rather impractical – but I do have the skills to settle into whatever position I can find when I return stateside. And while some have spent their lives collecting things, from the best dust ruffle for their king size bed to a shiny new Porsche in the driveway, I have gathered moments. My memories are my most treasured possessions. Should I suffer brain damage, more than just my personality would be lost; take away just one travel experience, and the tapestry of my life would have turned out remarkably different.

Still, I need more. I’m still searching for something which defines me, something with which I would be willing to devote all my energy, passion, and drive. As of this moment, in the grand scheme of things, I suppose I haven’t accomplished anything noteworthy. I’ve had many experiences and influenced many lives, but if you were to remove me from history, I doubt my absence would barely be felt. I’ve written articles, but my life up to this point has been selfish, plain and simple. I’ve traveled and done things for myself alone, seldom creating anything that would be missed. That’s what I’m seeking to change, to leave my mark on this world in a way that only I can.

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