I wonder about us lot.
And by us lot, I am talking about millennials, UK millennials. The differences between millennials and Generation Z aren’t exactly clear cut – some websites argue that millennials are those who reached young adulthood around the time of the millennium, while Gen Z people were born in the mid 90s – but for the sake of argument, I’m going to define my generation as those who can relate to the following:
- You make loud, protracted vowels sounds if R Kelly’s Remix to Ignition comes on.
- You can remember the song Millennium by Robbie Williams, and you can remember what you did at the millennium.
- You remember S Club 7 when they starred in Miami 7
- You had a Hearsay album, and you or someone in your family had a Shania Twain album
- You had a list of dickheads in your life who you wanted to take on Get Your Own Back
- You had a Nokia 3210
- You had a Nokia 3310
- You remember the Broadband noises as you set up your computer to steal songs via Limewire
- You wanted to audition for Harry Potter and S Club Juniors but your parents wouldn’t let you because they couldn’t be arsed with all the driving
For this lot, us lot, there are two narratives going on simultaneously. On the one hand, we are driven, mainly in our careers, and because we have most of our basic needs met – every strata of Maslow’s hierarchy thereof, in fact – there exists a pervasive notion, or inner concern, that we should also be striving to better ourselves outside of our careers. We must be thinkers, runners, great spouses, excellent parents, brilliant vegans, tuned in at all hours to emails, Twitter, and all that, devourers of literature, attentive to changes in the vlogosphere, producers and devourers of homemade falafel that we are aware we culturally appropriated when we affixed a salad cream dip. Having time off work sick is a bit odd; you just power through til Christmas, right? Even though it’s May.
And then there’s this other narrative going on, this seeping in of meditation, yoga, juicing, intermittent fasting, all marketed under a self-care bracket that seems to be at variance with the culture I described above. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve wheeled in this distilled and distorted brand of Eastern philosophy to help us get a handle on our hectic lifestyles. And some of us are open about our struggles with our (mental and physical, or simply read): health – and our desire to look after it – to the extent that we get called snowflakes, but while we allow ourselves brief moments of quiet and solace and openness, we’re still hooked into the other dynamic. We’re still of the belief that doing nothing is sort of dirty. We’re still dogged by shoulds and shouldn’ts and by the time I’m 30 I maybe ought tos.
And I’m not saying we’re making ourselves ill, and I’m not saying I made myself ill, because it isn’t linear like that. But it just seems sad to me that members of a generation that had Get Your Own Back and Shania Twain and all kinds of other fun shit still – in spite of yoga – aren’t really all that happy. And until we start tagging ‘and good health’ onto answers about our hopes for the future, as far as our own agency and the world’s resources permit, anyway, we run a very serious risk of running aground.
These are the random paths that chronic illness have led me down; expect silliness and deep reflection in equal measure. Impaired health can bring pain, despair, uncertainty and a bit of unexpected joy; seek solace here if you crave some light relief from campaigning/suffering.