♥ This is the 2nd post of the ‘Confessions of a Millennial’ series. Read here the first part ♥
We stand on the brink of an inner transformation. Something deep within us is changing. An era is ending and at the very core of our being, something new is being born. As it is with every great change, there are those who welcome it with open hearts and those who stonewall against it with fearful minds.
Here’s the thing about fear; it’s an able master of deception that can pave even the road to hell with good intentions. Fear thrives on the familiar and will do anything to silence the unknown. And fear, I can assure you, is what’s currently guiding the propaganda (see here) where
variations between Generation X and Y are promulgated as differences instead of diversities; as dichotomies, instead of polarities.
Here’s some hard data showing fear in the driver’s seat of the debates about Millennials.
Higher sensitivities classed as disease
Sir George Still, an English pediatrician, first described Attention deficit hyperactivity (ADHD) as a disorder in 1902. In 1986, after 84 years of barely any reported incidents, the medical world remarked a sudden and impressive spike of 13% in the numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD (see statistics).
Note: We would be remiss to dismiss the upsurge in ADHD diagnoses on the heels of the rise of Gen Y as a mere coincidence!
Some remarkable personalities such as Sir Richard Branson, Jim Carrey, Ryan Gosling and Woody Harrelson have been diagnosed with ADHD. And even though they have managed to carve out a more than adequate life for themselves and make a more positive impact on the world than most of us “normal and healthy” people have, our society is still determined to treat these higher sensitivities as disorders.
Looking at these four names alone, can you imagine the vast talent that is being stifled by our fear of embracing what wants to come to light in at least a quarter of Millennials? If we stop to consider that these people made it, not in spite of their condition, but thanks to it, would we still be so set on medicating our sensitivity away?
ADHD is just one example. Add to that Sensory-Processing Sensitivity (SPS), Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), Differential Susceptibility, Vantage Sensitivity, Psychobiological Reactivity, Biological Sensitivity to Context, and so on. These “afflictions” started to emerge in the ‘90s, in the thick of the rise of the Millennials.
Something deep within us is changing. I call it the emotive evolution.
It’s natural to want to emancipate these changes by classifying and draping them in highbrow labels and academic terminology. What’s not natural, is using these labels to justify our rebellious tendencies against the transformation taking place within our own children.
Sensitivity is not always a gift
For Millennials coming out of the closet regarding these sensitivities is not a way of declaring superiority. Not at all! So please, lay down your whips. Being intuitive may be a competitive advantage where innovation is concerned, but sensitivity or empathy, you see, is not always a gift (read here why not). In some cases, being empathic also means that you assimilate by osmosis everything; the good, and the bad. Empathy equips you, so to speak, with X-ray vision where systems that are decaying from within are concerned and engaging in such systems with empathy can feel like a kick below the belt. It can physically hurt.
Could this be the underlying reason behind our high burn-out rates?
Instead of being vilified as “lazy,” could we call for a more compassionate, emotionally mature approach? Could we work together to create environments where we can safely exercise these different variants of our 6th sense which no-one has prepared us for?
When my rational, sturdy Gen X colleague one day announced in tears that his young son was suicidal because he didn’t feel that he belonged here, my heart went out to him and his parents. When the colleague told me that they were medicating “the problem,” my heart broke.
This again is an old-fashioned response to treating psychological distress. The son’s desire to take his own life did not just evolve overnight. But because the parents prioritized acting the part of the power-hungry, well-adjusted, middle-class family, and kept their heads in the sand about their son’s silent cry for help, the situation had gone unnoticed for too long. Timing is everything. And a little bit of empathy would have gone a long way in not letting their son’s distress escalate to black despondency.
We need you!
The era of instant gratification is forcing us to retain more knowledge than ever before. Synthesizing some of the complex concepts roaming through our brains into a coherent, simple statement can be difficult at times. Some of our ideas may sound foreign, arrogant or wacky. They may not make sense at first. Our own sensitivities may not make sense to us and the fact that you don’t relate, makes us feel second-rate. We need your help to ground our thoughts and make them fit for purpose. And we need your acceptance to cope with our own feelings.
♥ This is the 2nd post of the ‘Confessions of a Millennial’ series. The next post of these series will be published in the coming days. ♥