COLUMN: Generational Hustle

“It’s those damn millennials ruining everything,” say the older generations. 

“Ruin? We’re just trying to live on a world you ruined,” say the millennials. “Oh, and there’s an entire generation after millennials now, so stop lumping us together!”

These two arguments are things that I have not only heard but been victim to over the years.

As a proud millennial, I have found myself agitated with the stigma of not only my generation, but those after me and really those before me too. 

We are so quick to point out the flaws of others. “They did this, and they didn’t do that. Well, if they would have only…” It is never-ending. And frankly, I am over it. 

Every generation is full of people breaking their backs to make a life for themselves and hopefully do what makes them happy. Every generation is faced with unique dilemmas, situations and hardships that other generations who do not understand. And, surprise, every single generation has a few bad seeds that abuse the systems, con their way through, avoid work and are basically the “bad” that we tend to deem the generation above and below us. 

I personally think it is time we put an end to the blame game and work on being better humans as a whole. 

My grandmother, Granny, was born in 1944, Granny has faced so much in her 76 years of life. She was born at the tail end of The Silent Generation and beginning of the Baby Boomers. 

The first year and a half of her life took place during World War II. She was only 11 years old when the Vietnam World started. Granny has lived during 14 different presidents in office. She was alive during the initial Civil Rights Movement. Granny was alive for the first birth control option was released, Elvis’ reign and the Beetles breaking up. 

And those are just a few of the things that happened before my time. She’s seen war, tragedy, new beginnings, a lifetime of a change and development and major world events. 

Despite the all the things that previous generations were responsible for during her lifetime Granny never let it stop her. 

At five years old she started working in the fields picking beans for pennies. She left home at 11 years old and traveled to New York where she worked as a housekeeper in the same building as the mafia. She traveled to Chicago and sold paintings to the mayor and other city officials to pay for nursing classes. Granny worked at a truck stop diner as a cook, drove a semi and did several different healthcare jobs over the years. 

Not only did she do all of these jobs throughout her life, but she raised four kids and several of her grandchildren and “adopted” two navy sailors that came home with her son during his years of service. 

She took care of her husband during his years of Parkinson’s disease. She helped care for her parents and siblings when they needed it. She has opened her home to more people than can be counted and fed thousands. 

Granny has lived a full and eventful life. She busted her ass to make ends meet and live a comfortable life. At 76, she continues to teach the next generation of grandkids to work hard, love harder and to be good people.

Granny and one of her original paintings.

While Granny had every reason to blame others and take the easy way in life, she chose to work hard for everything she has. 

I was born when Granny was 46 years old. While I have not seen all the things she has seen, I have seen my fair share and worked hard to be where I am in life. 

In fact, this time last year I was on not one, but six different payrolls while attending graduate school. 

I grew up in a broken home and dealt with things that kids should never have to know about. I moved out at the first opportunity and lived with Granny while finishing high school. I headed to North Carolina after I graduated and started working as soon as I could while taking classes I could afford. College was not an option for me after high school, but I eventually made it happen and graduated with a bachelors in two fields last year. 

Before I ventured into the college life, I got married and had two children. My kids have traveled around with me, attended classes with me and even sat at work with me at times when schedules conflicted. 

Major life events that I remember include 9/11, the current political chaos, the life of cellphones entering the world and internet taking over. I remember the rise of boy bands and Britney Spears. Friends was- and in my opinion still- the greatest sitcom of our generation. I have watched family members and friends fall victim to the opioid crisis. I have witnessed major strides and fights for equality and a better world trying to be paved. 

I have sat with my friends and brother during some of the hardest times of their lives. I cared for my dad during his bout with cancer until he passed in my arms. I am now living during a global pandemic while dealing with constant blows to my family. 

There is 46 years between Granny, The Silent Generation, and I, the millennial. We have lived completely different, but equally challenging lives where we worked hard for what we have and cared for those around us. 

Neither one’s life hardships can be blamed on the other’s generation. It is time we stop the blaming and realize we are all living life the best that we can. We have no idea what one or the other has been through. We all have our own hardships; we have all worked hard in different ways. We have cannot continue to criticize an entire generation for the few bad eggs. 

It is time to set aside the blame game and start being better humans while we all navigate our own generational hustle. 

Brittany Hively can be contacted at [email protected].