Friday, March 29, 2013

The Millennials: Stressed Out and Self-Absorbed


First I would like to say thank you to my avid readers. You all have been loyally returning through my short absence. I’ve been actively pursuing an internship site and have been busy getting through all of the formalities with that. I would also like to say thanks for all of the feedback about the last post. I know it was slightly controversial and some people were upset. My hope here is to encourage open discussion. I openly welcome all opinions.
So apparently my peeps over at the American Psychological Association have conducted a study in which the results strongly suggest that Millennials have become the nation’s most stressed out generation. Ouch! I definitely know the feeling. I have been stressed for so long that even when everything is going smoothly I start stressing about what I should stress about next! So, what are we stressed about?

Many news outlets and blogs have taken to the web to discuss these findings. Work and economic issues tend to be the most widely discussed topic on this issue. I think it is also important to consider a third variable in this particular study. Yes, Millennials did rank their stress as higher than Boomers, Xers, and the Silent Generation, but couldn’t that just simply be attributed to the life stage we are currently in. We are just at that point in our lives where we are trying to get it together, right?
Of course, we can’t discuss this issue without also discussing the fact that our economy has been poor since about 2008 and the job market has been disappointing. We were told all of our lives that if we went to college and worked hard it would pay off. Then we leave college with a lot of debt and a job that doesn’t pay any better than it does for someone just leaving high school.

But, let me introduce a theory slightly more controversial. Maybe we are more stressed because we as a generation tend to manage stress poorly. We are often accused of being narcissistic and pampered. That is what much of my blog has been built on; this concept of Millennials being the spoiled generation. According to research, narcissists tend to have higher levels of stress hormones than the average person. If we truly are a narcissistic generation, would this not be a plausible explanation?
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not throwing a blanket statement onto all of my peers. I’m also not saying that stress in simple. It is not. It is multifaceted and caused by multiple factors. However, studies suggest that narcissism is unusually high in our generation. Studies also suggest that stress is high within our generation. Studies further suggest that stress is more prevalent in narcissists. And if by deductive reasoning we were to conclude something, would it not be that we are more stressed because we are “narcissistic?” And if that is the case, why do narcissists experience more stress?

What if we experience stress at a greater level because we are not equipped to handle stress? We take criticism personal. This can increase stress.  We direct much focus internally, thinking mostly about ourselves. This can increase stress. We have an exaggerated view of our talents so we think we should always be achieving more than we are. This can increase stress. We always want praise and recognition. This can increase stress. In a nutshell, we are in a constant state of believing that we should do more, have more and be more because we deserve it. Sadly, life does not work that way. Thus, the birth of stress.
What are your thoughts?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chivalry is Dead and Feminism Killed It


After our last discussion about modern day marriage and parenting, a friend of mine made the comment that she does not feel compelled to marry because of the difficulties in finding the right man. According to her,
I think one reason girls aren't as interested, or at least hesitant to get married is because the lack of manliness. It seems very difficult to find a man these days who is motivated. Nowadays, many guys don't have jobs, or at least not ones that can sufficiently provide for themselves let alone a family. As many times as I’ve heard the phrase "chivalry is dead," it hasn't lost its relevance. It’s so true! In my experience, Men don't typically feel the need or desire to open doors, pay for meals, provide or step up. So why would we women want to legally bind ourselves or our hearts to that?”
Her comment made me stop and think. The institution of marriage has taken a major turn in the last couple of decades. The study that I had discussed said that Millennials rank marriage as a lower life priority. But, could it also be attributed to a cultural shift? I’ve heard many of my female friends throw around the phrase “chivalry is dead.” Maybe we should look closer at this concept. What exactly is chivalry and is it dead? Do men open doors for approaching women like they used to? Do they pull out our chair? Taking it a bit further, do they pursue us the way in which men used to pursue women? Do they bring flowers and put their coat over our shoulders if we are chilly on a date? I have to say that there are many men who are kind, courteous and chivalrous to women, but maybe not as much so as decades ago. What has caused these changes?

I suppose if male behavior has shifted we shouldn’t be so quick to point our finger and ask why they’ve changed. Is it possible that we as women have changed first and men are now changing because of it? The feminist movement has been a huge part of our culture within the last several decades. I really believe that we cannot look at the shift in male and female attitudes without considering how feminism has played a part. Women have been determined to shed the 1950’s cliché image of a housewife: cooking, cleaning and raising children. Have we somehow shed our delicate image and need for male tenderness with it? We go to college and get degrees. We want challenging careers and darn it, we can do anything the men can do! I wonder if maybe men haven’t been somewhat belittled in the process?



Then of course when we turn around and want a relationship, men have a slightly different attitude. We are not the delicate flowers that women once were so we are not treated as such. Over the years, we as women have communicated that we don’t need men. We are strong without them. Has this instilled a bitter attitude of men toward women? Neither of us seems to need the other now. Of course most women I know still want the knight in shining armor and a romantic evening out. However, it is hard to find and according to my friend, women settle for much less than what they are looking for.
“Women will take the shit that men throw at them instead of the relationship they are looking for. Like when a guy says, ‘I want to screw you, you’re hot,’ that’s the equivalent to what used to be, ‘You’re beautiful…I want you as my girlfriend.’ We accept it because it seems like that’s it or we get nothing.”
My husband has a different theory on why men’s attitudes toward women have changed over the years. He thinks that it is somewhat attributed to the feminist movement, but also because of the famous parenting of the Millennials that has supposedly made them so self-absorbed and arrogant.
“Because Millennials were raised as seeing themselves as special and all of that, there definitely is arrogance and narcissism present more so now than ever in people. I think this affects how men treat women. If the guy sees himself as awesome and perfect and is also selfish, he’s not going to be that great to a woman. He’s just going to want his own needs met. This obviously doesn’t apply to most men but it is definitely more prevalent now than ever.”


Another reader of the blog also pointed out that culturally, the need to marry just isn’t there anymore. Women used to depend on men for their living and marriage was culturally necessary. However, women are more educated and pursuing careers and men have become much more domestic. The mutual need for each other just isn’t as strong anymore. Nowadays a man and a woman can go on some dates and then return to their own home and own jobs and not have to take it one more complicated step further.

Feminism, upbringing and culture all likely play somewhat of a role in this shift of, not only of the male attitude toward women, but the female attitude toward men. Whatever the exact reasons, is this a social problem? Do we see anything wrong with the way in which people are pursuing relationships these days and treating each other? Also, what is wrong with a man and a woman needing each other and being better together than alone? Our culture has become one of constantly downplaying weakness and singing of strength and independence. Has this made it difficult for us to soften to each other? Whatever the answers may be, I think that we all need to recognize and appreciate the unique differences that exist between men and women and celebrate them. So what if we need each other? I don’t find it to be such a bad thing to admit to. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

5 Counseling Approaches to Improving Your Relationship


Last time I discussed some of the current statistics concerning the Millennial perspective on marriage and parenting. It has been discovered that my generation is taking a very cautious approach to these issues. Also, according to www.divorcerate.org, somewhere between 40-50% of U.S. marriages end in divorce with multiple factors that must be considered. With these things in mind, it can scare a young couple who either want to marry or commit to cohabitation. The fact of the matter is that relationships take work, but it is worth it. They also take self-sacrifice, but you can become the best version of yourself. People often talk about the work and difficulty involved in relationships but fail to follow up with the fact that if you are willing to take it on and get your hands dirty, you will find yourself in a positive fulfilling relationship that suits you and your life.

There are thousands of therapists out there making a killing on relationship problems. There are so many relationship books and programs available that someone looking for answers probably wouldn’t even know where to start. I’m sure many “experts” would cringe at me saying this but if you have two people willing to try then what needs to happen is not all that complicated. As I said, it takes two. If one person is only willing to meet halfway then it can prove frustrating. Also, there are serious issues that often do require professional help such as infidelity or domestic violence. But, if you find your relationship struggling there are some basic concepts that can help to improve it.



I’m going to list 5 ways that are foundational in improving a relationship. Keep in mind that I am not yet a licensed counselor. However, I have noticed recurring themes time and again that are always touched upon within the counseling session. Not only have I learned about these, but I have also utilized them within my own 11 year relationship which has seen its own share of battles but has come out stronger each time.



     1.  Look at Yourself First- When a relationship is struggling, many people want to immediately cast blame. There may be a partner in the relationship that has committed more obvious transgressions than the other, but you can’t control another’s actions. You can only control your own. And often times without realizing it, we create the environment for the actions that we are trying to change in our partner. For example, a woman may be upset because she feels that her husband never talks to her. In order to fix the situation she often tells him that he never opens up to her and continually reinforces this concept. He in turn may feel under pressure to open up but is stunted in doing so because she has cast a negative reinforcement over the communication channel. The more constructive approach would have been for her to have a discussion with him on the matter so that he knows she desires for him to communicate more openly, and then she do something different to foster the change. When he talks, ask questions about what he is speaking on. Show interest in the things he feels most comfortable in talking openly about. Create an open and receptive environment that tells him that it is good for him to communicate often. This is the basis for fostering all types of change. Treat your partner in a manner that speaks to them in the sense that you want something and will create the type of environment that will allow them to do so.

     2. Learn to Forgive- This is so important for relationships to be able to overcome storms and many people are unwilling to do it. Many things hinder forgiveness: hurt, anger, pride. However, forgiveness is done for yourself. When you refuse to forgive someone you are saying that you will allow yourself to suffer for their mistake forever because they don’t deserve to have you say that you are willing to move on from it. I understand this concept on a very personal level. I had to learn forgiveness early in my marriage. Somehow it dawned on me that I was torturing him, torturing myself and torturing our relationship by not accepting that he is human and makes mistakes. Once I began practicing forgiveness it became easier for me to do it as time went on. In turn, he was so humbled in my ability to forgive him in spite of how hurt I was that he went to great lengths to work on his own weaknesses. Being able to forgive your partner will make you stronger, it will make them respect you more and it will strengthen your relationship in ways that you never thought possible. We are all human.


     3.Validate the Other Person’s Feelings- We may not realize it, but sometimes we can really make our significant other feeling unimportant, underappreciated and misunderstood. Self-awareness really comes in to play here and we need to get into the habit of constantly monitoring and evaluating each word that comes out of our mouths. A few seemingly innocent words can really hurt your partner and damage your relationship if you are not remaining conscious of your reactions to them. When your partner is telling you something, listen. In fact, I challenge you for two weeks to make a commendable effort at doing more listening than talking. When your partner is telling you something, it is because it is important to them. It may seem trivial to you, but it means something to them. Brushing off and shutting down their thoughts when they come out of their mouth tells them that you do not respect them. You don’t always have to agree with what they say but at least demonstrate that you respect their feelings. You are showing them that you care about them enough to carefully consider what they have to say, even if it is at odds with how you feel.

     4. Commit to a Healthy Sex Life- After the newness of a relationship has worn off and everyone is focused on jobs, kids and other daily activities, sex can sometimes seem like a past-time that is inconvenient. You may be tired. You may be stressed. You may just not “feel” like it. However, maintaining an active sex life is important for the quality of your relationship and your own health and well-being. Sex increases levels of happiness and productivity, reduces stress hormones and prolongs your life. Of course having all of these as an added bonus will even further contribute to the quality of your relationship. If you have to, set a day and time aside each week that you know you and your partner can spend intimate time together. Keeping that intimacy consistent will strengthen the bond between you and your partner.


     5.Chat- This can be easy for some couples and harder for others. Not everyone is a great communicator. However, everyone does have something that they are interested in. Everyone experiences eventful days at work or with the kids. Spend a little time each evening together just chatting. It doesn’t have to be too serious or deep. Talk about your day, something funny you heard, something you saw in the news or an idea you have for a new project. Share yourself with your partner. It will keep you close and always knowing and growing in who the other person is. I’m sure some people grow tired of our incessant chatter with one another but we have really grown together in ideas and shared interests and we value each other in sharing these things. A relationship doesn’t have to be all work. Keep it fun!

As with anything, it takes time to see improvement. It can also be really tough if you feel you are working alone to accomplish these things. However, if you make an honest effort to do all 5 of these things I really believe you will slowly start to see a change in your partner. Much of how someone treats you is in how you treat them, so be willing to make the change and strengthen your relationship. Years from now you will see how your commitment has paid off. I certainly know that I have. 


For more reading I HIGHLY recommend The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. This book offers so much insight into what I really push to people,which is knowing who you are and developing self-awareness. This in itself contributes to better relationships. Very much worth a read! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Millennials Uninterested in Marriage and Parenting: What Now?


I started doing some reading online about marriage and parenting trends within Generation Y. I suppose I wasn’t surprised at some of the data that has been collected. According to a study conducted over at www.pewsocialtrends.org, 52% of Millennials say that being a good parent is one of the most important things in life while only 30% say the same about marriage. More interesting, 25% are unsure whether they even want to marry and 19% are unsure whether they want to have children.



Of course these numbers vary from older generations with less young adults wanting to marry or have children. When the study was conducted, only 36% of women 18-29 were mothers whereas in 1998 it was 41% for Generation X women. Why the change? There has apparently been a shift in priorities. Many would likely say career or education have taken center stage in this age group’s list of important things. However, many Gen Y critics have accused our generation of being lazy and unwilling to take risks or pursue careers.
For the sake of argument, if we are not marrying, not having children, and not pursuing careers as actively as previous generations then what are we doing exactly? Chillin’? Shootin’ the breeze at mom’s house? Also, why do we seem to be jumping ship from what has been the traditional idea of marriage and family in the United States? Has it become less important to our personal needs? Or, do some of us harbor negative feelings toward the institution of marriage because of what we may have witnessed as children?



Whatever the reason behind all of these statistics, I think it is a good time for us to consider our own priorities. We should take a moment and ask ourselves how we feel about marriage, children and careers and why we feel that way. Each person has their own individual interests and life philosophies and that’s okay! However, we need to be very much aware of ourselves. It would be counterproductive for us to go through life and never deeply consider our views on these things. We need to get to know ourselves and develop a clear understanding of our own desires so as to explore the path that best fits us. Yes, I'm talking about soul-searching. It is my opinion that my generation kind of neglects soul-searching and we just sort of tumble through life, many times without much rhyme or reason to what we are doing. 



At any rate, all of this leaves me with many questions for my generation. What will happen to the institution of marriage, particularly with the divorce rate as it is? Also, more people of Generation Y want children than they want to marry. Traditionally the concept of single-parenting has risen from a collapse in the adult relationship. Now, many feel a child with one parent is a lifestyle choice. Is this notion responsible and are the implications of this concept positive or negative? These are certainly issues that our generation needs to consider with care in the coming years. 


Saturday, March 2, 2013

5 Steps to Becoming an Online Entrepreneur


Last time I talked a little bit about the ever-changing field of technology and the implications this has on people. As I am sure we all have noticed it can bring the bad with the good. While growing technology allows us to communicate faster, buy and sell easier and access a world of knowledge at the click of a button, it can also make us lazy. Many have fallen into communicating only through text messages or Facebook and frittering away multiple hours playing online games or reading fun memes.
While none of the things mentioned are negative in and of themselves, how we use them can prove differently. Something that I really want to stress and hopefully inspire my fellow Millennials to discover, is that the internet and all of the technology around it (i.e. smart phones, tablets, laptops), are transforming the world of commerce and the possibilities for the small-business person. We have the unique opportunity of being at the ground floor.



Many of our peers have already utilized these things in order to create something unique that eventually became profitable. *Insert Facebook reference here, of course.* But, your venture doesn’t have to be that big. It can be anything! It can be creating your own blog if you like to write to selling your pastries if you like to bake. It can be selling crafts or selling your services. The possibilities are limitless. All you need to do is put in of hours a day into something you already enjoy.
Here are 5 basic steps that both my husband and I utilized in order to build modestly successful careers with the help of technology-

1.       Figure out what it is you enjoy or are good at- It should be a nice combination of the two. Once you do that, brainstorm ways in which this could prove profitable for you. Can you sell your services? Can you sell a product? Can you create a website with information or tools that people will find useful? Whatever it is, it is important that it means something to you personally. This will be a key factor in determining whether or not you stick with it. If you have a random idea that you think might be something that would do well but your heart isn’t really in that pursuit, you may eventually become bored with it and give up. Having a love for what you are doing will secure its longevity.
2.       Do Research- Google is your friend! Search companies and websites that are similar to what you want to do. Know your competition and build your ideas on inspiration that they provide to you. If you want to start a website, research how to create a website. Research how to make money with your website. If you want to sell products or goods, research sites that you can use as a platform, such as Ebay or Etsy if you prefer a middle man to help. There is no such thing as having too much information on something. Also, I have found in my pursuits that doing various searches will help you to fine-tune your own ideas and come up with entirely new ones.
3.       Set some short-term and long-term goals- It is important that you consider what your own expectations are in what you want to do. It may just be a hobby. That’s great! Many people find that their avid hobbies later turn into a profitable pursuit because of networking and attention to detail in their craft. However, it does not have to be about money. That is really the route my blog has taken thus far. Maybe you just want enough interest in your venture that it will keep you busy on the weekends. Maybe you website to eventually become the biggest social networking platform on the internet. Just know what you would realistically like to do and also what would be ideal in your pursuit.
4.       Develop your brand- Create a logo. Start a website. Maybe even come up with a catchy phrase. Decide why your idea is different, and possibly better, than others like it. Understand your pursuit to the point that you can explain to other what you are doing and why it is so important to you. Not only is this important in order to effectively market yourself later, but people really respond when you’re passionate about your idea to the point that you can explain the whole philosophy behind it. For example, you might say, “I want to sell muffins because baked goods at most markets are a rip-off. I want to sell good, fresh products to people that are homemade and of upstanding quality.” Understanding what drives your pursuit will be its backbone.
5.       Sell yourself- This is very important and takes a lot of work. I put in as much time developing the research for my blog and writing as I do marketing it to an audience. This is where technology really goes to work for you if you put in the time. The ways in which you can sell yourself online are endless. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, chat forums, YouTube, Stumbleupon, Digg, Reddit, Etsy, Ebay and networking with like-minded people who have blogs and websites are just a fraction of the ways in which you can put yourself out there online. You just always have to be thinking of creative ways to put yourself out there and get people interested. The opportunities are endless. Eventually, depending on your personal goals, you don’t have to do as much self-promoting because people will come. They know you and your product and they like it. They will come without you telling them to. I have almost 50 returning visitors to my blog each day and I’ve only just begun.

At the end of the day, it isn’t about money or succeeding or losing. I am trying to emphasize here that it is about doing something different with your time. It is about being innovative and having ideas and pursuits. It doesn’t have to be a career. I come to work each day and then for a couple hours in the evening I work on my blog – and I enjoy doing it. It really just started as a creative hobby for me and has grown. Be the first to do what our predecessors are going to do. Be the first to make Millennial technology work for you.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Millennials Should Use Technology for Self-Improvement


I’m not as tech-savvy as some. I’m very thankful for my husband who is always able to set up our new devices and troubleshoot when necessary. I’m not too good, or patient, with those types of things. I do take full advantage of all my gadgets though. I always like to keep up with the latest smart phones and I utilize them for pretty much everything you can think of. My mom, a die-hard Baby Boomer, refuses to even own a basic cell phone and sneers at computers. “People can really get into trouble on those things,” she has said to me, more than once. I always laugh at her blanket statements about the use of technology for deviant behavior.





Lately though, it has started to dawn on me that with more power comes more responsibility. I would certainly consider all of the technology that we have constant access to a form of power. It makes me stop and ask, how are we using our power? Do we take it for granted? I was about 12 when we signed up for the internet and I discovered the world of being able to instantly talk to my friends via chat and instant messenger. Anyone remember ICQ? Things have obviously grown from that point and the younger Millennials will be even more savvy than I, never having known a world without smart phones or the world wide web.



With the world at our fingertips and being the first generation of its kind, we have an immense advantage in this world. The internet has become a hotspot for revenue and business-building. I see my classmates doing everything from blogs and app development to selling Mary Kay with the help of their Facebook. If you really think about it, that’s truly incredible. However, how much are we really using these amazing advances in technology for good?

On a daily basis I interview 18-22 year olds who spend a significant amount of time staring at their phones. Some will barely part with their texting buddies long enough for me to ask them some interview questions. This does not speak for everyone, but bear with me for the point I want to make here. Some of these people can probably text faster than I talk. However, when I start chatting with them, they often times struggle to form a coherent idea verbally. I really think much of this is due to our using our technology as crutches for many things. I also think that we spend more time using our technology for past-time activities instead of finding ways that we can make it work for us.



I was very guilty of falling into the text-friends-all-day-play-Facebook-games-all-night crowd. In between I was showing up to my job, putting in my time and going home. I knew that with all of the emerging technology and my know-how in these areas, I was really selling myself short. My husband decided that he was too. So we decided to take what we know and are good at and combine these talents with the power of technology that most of the Millennials possess.

We started brainstorming, beginning with my husband’s talents. He has been an incredible freelance graphic designer for many years but just did jobs here and there by word-of-mouth around town. In his spare time he would create unique designs of singers and bands. We had recently purchased a huge digital printer and decided to print some of these as posters and give them as gifts. They were an instant hit and many wanted to purchase them. I knew we could run with this idea so I thought, why not Ebay? So, Mike set up a website of his own in order to display his portfolio and contact info and we began selling his posters on Ebay.(Check him out at www.artyourminddesign.com and read about his successful journey) It took off more than we ever dreamed. We were mailing our several posters a day. About 6 months into this, a close friend of Johnny Cash contacted Mike and asked him what he did for a living. He really loved Mike’s attention to detail and the vintage style he used in some of his Johnny Cash posters. After talking back and forth for quite some time, he asked Mike if he would want to do all of the graphic design work for the Johnny Cash Museum that he was working on down in Nashville. He obviously accepted and it has been an awesome journey since. That has been what Mike has been focusing on for the past year and it has brought so many other opportunities with it. We even got to meet the Cash family and Johnny Cash's drummer! This all happened because we sat down and asked, “How can we make technology work for us?”



Don’t get me wrong…there were moments where things didn’t go as planned. There were times we wanted to give up. As with anything though, it takes a positive attitude, a solid game plan and persistence. I read a blog the other day that asked if Millennials are abandoning the traditional 9-5. I wouldn’t say abandoning it but I would certainly say adding to it. Why should we settle with our day job? When we come home in the evening, why not take what we love and make it profitable?



We are living in a time where being an entrepreneur is much more accessible. In addition to my 9-5 I have worked as a freelance writer on Elance and similar sites, making a nice little side income for myself. After this, I started to become interested in the issues that affect my generation and decided to start this blog. It has had an incredible response which also has proven profitable. Many say that the Millennials are living in a dream world because they want to do what they are passionate about. I personally believe in a mix of practicality and dreaming. Why can’t we do both? I go to my practical job each day and now instead of coming home to chat or play video games I start gathering new ideas for my blog because being a writer is one of those “dream jobs” for me. It has been very worthwhile!

As Millennials, I say we use our powers for good. Utilize all of the technology we have in front of us to do something new and exciting for yourself. It doesn’t even have to be lucrative, just something that awakens your mind and gets you excited. Join the forces of young entrepreneurs taking the creative reigns and breaking new ground. If we don’t pave the way then Generation Z certainly will. Let’s be the first of our kind!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

5 Ways for Millennials to Restore Community


The other day, I discussed some of my personal observations about Facebook. I also discussed a developing theory within the blogging community. Is Facebook, and similar social networking sites, cheapening the concept of community for this generation? I think it is very possible. I see my generation letting go of traditional values. While I believe we should progress with the times, I also feel that we should ask ourselves about the implications of losing these traditional values. Specifically concerning the deterioration of community, what are the implications?

When community is facilitated primarily over the internet, there are things in the physical realm being neglected. We lose face-to-face interaction, people skills, and real human inclusion. We also lose sight of the world we are living in, the issues that are impacting the community, and what our personal role is to better our own home. My town is a prime example of what happens when everyone stops caring. One of my Facebook friends posted a report from NBC News that rates my town as one of the top 15 saddest towns in the country. I always hear people complaining about how “pathetic” it is here. Everyone is either trying to get out or pass the time with diversions. Not many people in my generation want to step up or do anything.
I understand that lack of job opportunities are a huge problem here, but we could still work to create a great community. Sadly, people have so often heard the mantra of “get involved” that it has sort of lost its meaning over the years. I don’t expect you to directly go out tomorrow and find places to volunteer. Individual change takes time, as does community change. If we start individually though, we can make small changes that will have a huge impact on how well the local community is functioning. Here are 5 small things you can start doing to make a tremendous difference in your community.



        Buy Local- I have been hearing this phrase a lot lately, and for good reason! When you buy local, your money is then being circulated through the community- about 68% in fact! It creates jobs, a stronger economy and an overall camaraderie and pride that is only present in communities where its inhabitants take its livelihood seriously.  I highly recommend www.the350project.net to learn about what it means to buy local. They challenge people to spend at least $50 a month locally in order to make a huge impact. Start the trend. Find a local business that sells something you buy regularly and switch. Get to know business owners. Immediately, you have your foundation to a stronger community.

        Know Your Neighbors- I’m not saying go knock on their door right now with a homemade quiche in your hand. We are starting to rob ourselves of the social skills that older generations have. People my age often times won’t acknowledge me until I do them. Once I do, I usually get a warm welcome that seemed glad I made the first move. Let’s learn to be friendly again. At least say hello to your neighbor when you see them outside. When timing permits, ask questions about the neighborhood, their landscaping or anything just to get the ball rolling. Later on offer your help with anything if they ever need it. Give them your number in case they ever have an emergency. If their trashcan blows over, pick it up. Step outside your comfort zone and be friendly.

      Volunteer- Many people brush this concept off for many reasons from apathy to unawareness. However, volunteer work is SO important for the community. You get to step outside of your world and into someone else’s who needs you. You are giving your valuable time and labor to organizations that only exist with your help. These places provide goods and services in the community that are important, not only to the needy, but to everyone. It can be anything from a soup kitchen to a library. The places that make a community unique, diverse and strong rest on you to keep them going.



        Educate Yourself- This is important and a lot of people don’t want to do it. Much of my generation thinks their opinions, ideas and votes don’t matter. They really won’t matter if we give up and don’t ever use them! We have freedoms and rights in this country. Please don’t take them for granted. I understand that politics and government tend to be corrupt and we don’t know a lot of what happens, but we have to use what tools we have to keep a hand in what is happening around us. Learn about local issues. Make a point to read the newspaper and watch the local news. Even attend some hearings about local issues. Even if you don’t feel comfortable getting too involved just yet, at least know what is happening.

     Get Involved- This is the next step after educating yourself and it can be tough to start doing. However, once you start educating yourself on local issue you will start to learn where the needs are in the town. You’ll even find things that you had no idea you were passionate about! It could be education. It could be animal welfare. Once you find that thing that means something to you, go with it! Join a committee. Spread important information and become a soldier of awareness. Even start a group or a committee if you find there is a need for it in your community.


Just making small steps using these 5 starters will help you enter into the day-to-day of your community. I wish I could stress just how important it is. Our community is our livelihood…our home. It is up to no one but us to create it the way that we want it. We, the Millennials, have left too much of the responsibility to the older generations. It is our time to step in and create our own community.