I am on the cusp of the Millennial generation, born in 1982. A new term, “Xennials” emerged recently, to better describe “my people,” born from 1977-1985. You can read more about it here.
One characteristic that I find to exist within both of generations is this focus on being unique. How often did my generation here, “there is no one like you in the whole world?”
While this is true, there is a whole lot in common between me and those whom I share the earth with, especially those that I am of the same cultural background. Even in different cultures, ethnicities, and gender, there are some similarities that are best classified as simply being human.
I am reminded of this with my daughter. Every day she makes my wife and I stop in our tracks. At 21-months, there are times when I question if she is a genius. Like today, she said “mama is reading my book.”
I ask her what is 102-100, and at an incredibly young age she answers, “2.” (It should be pointed out that 2 is her favorite number, and one of four number that she currently can say).
Just when we are ready to start filling out her application to Harvard, she calls a lemon a ball, and we are all brought back to earth.
But the real wake up call comes with my somewhat weekly email and text messages that can be best described as “developmental awareness.” These messages are focused on my daughter’s development for that exact week and what markers she is likely hitting.
I am fascinated by these as they are often on point. While yes my daughter is special and unique, she is also within that bell curve of development. This is a good thing.
As I look within and around, I see similarities. That youtube video that says, “dare you not to cry,” when watching it makes me cry, as I assume it does for the 3.5 million others who needed to clear out their eyes and to cause unnecessary self-harm.
I see new parents posting the same photos as I did a year-and-a-half ago, just with a different child. I see my fellow Mets fans tweeting the same frustration and disappointment after a tough loss, finding comfort in the shared misery of a fanbase.
So yes, we are unique, but we are also quite similar. We belong to a human family, that we often are ready to separate from in our own search for individuality. Perhaps the challenge is to appreciate both as we continue to grow.
We need to own our uniqueness, and to appreciate it. We should be grateful for those cheerleaders in our life who are rooting for us as if we were the star of the show, or the M.V.P. on the field. I look at my daughter and I pray she always knows that her dad is just fascinated by her, not by what she does, but by simply being her, in all her fullness and completeness.
We must also own our human connection, knowing that we all come from the same God. With this belief, we must them be responsible for one another.
In areas where our brothers and sisters are mistreated, we should all hurt. In areas where our brothers and sisters are left out, we should all feel excluded. In areas where our brothers and sisters are victims, we should also feel this pain, looking to respond with justice and love for one another.
Yes, we are different. But at the core, we are the same. We must move from a generation that focuses on “me” to be a people that focuses on “us.” Together, we can make all the difference.