Spring 2016 Special Issue: Generation Change

Called one of the most self-absorbed and ignorant generations, Generation Y certainly hears a lot about themselves. Generation Y has a say, however, and they want change.

But how hard are they willing to work for it?

This semester, The Hilltop News’ talented staff of writers set out to discover what Millennials care about and how they expect to make a difference. Within this issue are discussions about the 2016 Presidential race, transgender equality, and student activist movements. Others looked into current hot millennial topics such as the effects of college blogging and injustices regarding colleges and universities. We have included personal experiences that defy stereotypes and dived into personal reactions to the “Body Acceptance” movement.

Perhaps Generation Y has more to say. The Hilltop News invites you to listen to our voices.

Having Our Say: Millennials and The 2016 Presidential Race

DSC_0453
Rebekah Lee, Associate Editor of Student Publication, English, ’18

In November of 2016, the future of America will be placed in the voting population’s hands. As of now, half of the voting population is made up of Generation Y, or “Millennials” as some call them, and they have had more say during this election process than in the past. After all, there has been a wide variety of diverse and persuasive candidates. From Senator Bernie Sanders’ position on government-funded higher education to Donald Trump calling for a reawakening of American pride and greatness to Hillary Clinton’s position on women’s choice issues. This election lacks  nothing  in terms of Millennial interest and the variety of changes in direction the country can take with “just one” vote.

Continue reading “Having Our Say: Millennials and The 2016 Presidential Race”

Blank Faces in a Crowd: A Look at Transgender Invisibility

 

1970858_823992000960594_233421328_n
Toni Anne Ball, Contributing Writer, Sociology, ’18

June 26, 2015 is a date that I will remember as the day for a significant accomplishment for the United States government. If you are not familiar with this day, it is the day that same sex marriage became legal in all fifty states. I am sure that a majority of Generation Y is familiar with the grand celebration. It was a day that will live on in the hearts of all Americans no matter what side of the debate you were on.

Since then, many companies and television programs have shown full support for the gay and lesbian community, another beautiful thing. However, the Transgender community was left behind in the movement. According to LaGrange College Student Breckin McCoy, the gay and lesbian community gaining is more attention for one simple reason: “Visibility.” He says, “Gay people have taken their spot in society. LGB people have utilized visibility and time to generate the courage it takes to live their truths out loud.  The ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’ is just getting started.”

It is now time to give the transgender community the spotlight that it needs.

When I was a kid, I had a best friend named May. May was a little shy and always dressed in baggy clothes to hide the body inside it, and May never really liked to talk much. As we got older, May started to shy away even more and became so detached that I was scared to ask what’s wrong until May said, “I am transitioning, female to male.”

This was in 2013, at graduation.  May officially changed his name to Christopher William in October of 2014. “It was the greatest damn day of my life,” he states. “Well, maybe second, the first was when I started hormone blockers and testosterone.” His deeper voice, defined jawline, and new name are medals to accompany his newfound freedom.

His proud parents stand by his side, tears streaming down both of their faces. “I hope now he can be proud to be himself; that is all we ever wanted for him,” says his mother. Sounds like the perfect ending to a beautiful story of acceptance and strength, and it was.

Sadly, this is not the case for many other transgender individuals. But, how do you expect people to respect you and accept you when there are politicians who are trying to segregate you from the cisgender community andurn you into a pariah?  

Breckin had to say this about the recent bill passed on transgender bathroom use in North Carolina: “Those of us in the ‘T’ are going to demand respect as well. I think it is safe to say that Americans have learned the hard way. When you restrict entire groups, categorically, from completing and engaging tasks that are very much considered ‘every day’ -history is not on your side.”

I know what you are thinking. Toni, it is just a bathroom; aren’t there bigger things to worry about? And, to take a quote from my interview with the wonderful Venus Simone, [whom I don’t know and we should get a bit more information here],“They’re bathrooms, no one actually cares. These transphobes are just trying to scare people into believing that we all must conform to standards and never change. But we always do. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a long, long time.”

Granted, this isn’t the only problem that is damaging the transgender community. In 2015, twenty-one transgender women alone were murdered. Another forty-eight killed in Brazil this past January.

Many skeptics will say that the trans community is everywhere with shows like Orange is the New Black, Transparent, and I am Cait. Sadly, in my opinion, only Orange is the New Black  gives us a “non-glamorized” portrayal of a trans person played by actress Laverne Cox, who is also transgender and a trans activist.  The problems are just adding up.

Where can we start to make solutions? Venus responds, “I would like to see people with privileges, whether that be classrooms, auditoriums, an audience/following or money. To give space to trans people. Have real trans people from the street on a panel at your school, listen to trans folk who don’t fit in the binary. Let us tell our own stories and stop trying to force us to your gender standards. I guess I’d just like to see people that could help, actually help. Whether that’s celebrities, professors at schools or even students. Talk about us, spread the word. And listen when we tell you what we need.”

Breckin also added, “The first step in giving respect and support is understanding what the struggle is and understanding that my struggle is no different than yours; it is just a different type of battle.” There is no denying that the country is slowly moving to change; however much work needs to be done in order to reach full equality. There is also no information on how long that will take. Nevertheless, I believe that the first step in support and understanding, in order to make change happen is to do your research on the community and the problems that they face.

So, how can someone who has no access to information of the transgender community find information?  Breckin stated, “Susansplace.org and the Human Rights Campaign website are great basic places to start. When we learn about anything new we are all guilty of picking up the cell phone and doing basic searches. You will be surprised what you have at your fingertips in the way of information.

Here on campus, we have a Gay-Straight Alliance group that is ready to provide a safe place for anyone who may need to talk. That means that anything you say will not be judged or repeated. Whatsoever.” I am the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance and though I am personally not transgender nor have I had any gender identity issues it is a safe place to come ask questions.

If you personally have had your own questions on gender identity or you are wondering if you are transgender yourself, Breckin has offered to help in any way. “I am willing to be public with my story and struggles and will answer any questions (even if they seem silly or sensitive) because I firmly believe that the difference maker for the ‘T’ is visibility. I am just like you and I am here.”

Venus also states, “Network! YouTube, tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, snapchat! Also look up local PFLAGS or GSA’s in your area! Also if you want to learn more, go online, use Wikipedia, or buy books written by trans folks. I would highly recommend redefining realness. Lastly if you know someone who is queer/trans or whatever, ask them politely if they’d mind helping you understand more about it.  Just keep in mind that all of our trans experiences are different; some people don’t feel comfortable talking about their transness, others (like myself) never shut up about it! Just be polite and also do your own research. We are people just like everyone else.”

For further questions or concerns, email Breckin at brmccoy@student.lagrange.edu. And of course, I am always available for questions at taball@student.lagrange.edu.  

Author’s Note: I would like to personally thank Breckin and Venus for agreeing to do this interview; I greatly appreciate you for all your help. Also, thank you to Breckin, Venus and Christopher William for allowing me to share their stories, I cannot say how grateful I am to you all.  Finally, a Thank you to The Hilltop News for allowing me to have a platform to get the information out, no matter how brief. Every little bit of acknowledgment helps.

“500 Words On” The Negative Effects of College Blogging

 

Zeitouni Family(005)
Layla Zeitouni, Contributing Writer, English, ’17

I have great respect for any college student who can find the time to write an article every week and not cave to watching another episode of Criminal Minds. I have even more respect when the article is political, controversial, informative, or thoughtful.

The most popular current platform for this is The Odyssey Online, with articles from our very own LaGrange College students with titles like “A Reminder to Always Fight For Yourself,” “How Sustainability Can Affect Christmas,” and “Dear God, Thanks for NOT Answering My Prayers.” While these articles are well-researched and well-considered, these are few and far between. The outpouring of support towards social trends such as these displays how our generation is moving towards opinionated pieces instead of fact-checked journalism.

 

The Odyssey is a website with different branches throughout the country, and colleges are encouraged to start their own branch. Any interested student can apply to start a branch and become the editor, and then find students to write for the blog. Students can choose to write for different categories, like “Sports,” “Humor,” or “Adventure,” but the most popular categories are “500 Words On” and “The List.”

In “500 Words On,” the student can write 500 words on any topic. “The List” is exactly what it sounds like, from “21 Signs You’re an Education Major” to “11 Signs That You Are a Baton Twirler.”

Blogging

The Odyssey Online’s website states, “Through its proprietary technology ecosystem, Odyssey is revolutionizing content creation and discovery, enabling compelling, high-quality content to be created and discovered at speed and scale.” In lots of big words, it’s saying that Odyssey is the first website allowing easy access to reading and writing “compelling, high-quality” articles.

Despite such high personal praise, the Odyssey has very few quality control checkpoints. When skimming through these pieces, the reader expects—and deserves—a certain level of professionalism and a certain quality of writing, which is lacking in many of the articles. When reading through the articles that friends share on Facebook, it’s unnerving to see errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and usage. Some are little things, like the use of “peak” instead of “peek.”

The problem is not with the concept of the Odyssey or with any other media-sharing platform. The problem is that the credible, good writers are buried in heaps of rehashed articles about spring break and getting your first sorority “rush crush.” Recently, I read an article that included multiple malapropisms and misspellings. The article was incredibly hostile toward the college, while at the same time not being informative or having credible—or correct—information about many of the college’s projects.

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Jake
Jacob Kryzsiak, Associate Editor of Student Publications, English, ’18

In 2006, three lacrosse players from Duke University—Collin Finnerty, David Evans, and Reide Seligmann—were falsely accused of raping a stripper named Crystal Mangum. This allegation came from Mangum herself and soon after gained national attention as many media outlets picked up on the story. It didn’t take long, however, for this story to fall apart.

Just three weeks after these men were accused of their crime, the rape kit came back not matching any of their DNA. Another blow to the prosecutor for this case was that Reide Seligmann was seen on ATM footage during the time he was supposed to be raping Ms. Mangum. Finally, the other dancer who was hired along with Ms. Mangum. She publicly denied on multiple media outlets, including 60 Minutes, of her involvement in Ms. Mangum’s statement. Following this evidence, people began to look over her statement and see that her story was not truthful.

Unfortunately, many students and faculty at Duke University didn’t care about due process. Waiting for all the evidence didn’t matter. The Duke lacrosse team ended up forfeiting games due to protests. Reide Seligmann told 60 Minutes that people were outside his house banging pots with signs reading things such as “castrate,” or “Sunday morning: time to confess.”

These three students weren’t the only victims in this case, though. Their coach, Mike Pressler, suffered an equal, if not worse, fate. On the same episode of 60 Minutes, he tells Ed Bradley that he saw his name next to words like “rape” and “sexual assault” on a daily basis. Pressler had to meet with then athletic director Joe Alleva for an ultimatum: resign immediately or risk being fired.

Pressler resigned to protect the school’s reputation and appease protesters.

It wouldn’t be until a year later on April 11th, 2007 that all charges were dropped and all the players were declared innocent. Despite the damage that Ms. Mangum caused, she walked away without any consequences.

This scandal is among many that illustrate the impact of a rape accusation. On November 19th, 2014, Rolling Stone published an article by Sabrina Erdely about the University of Virginia’s Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and their alleged involvement of rape of a freshman named Jackie. The 9,000 word article, now taken down by Rolling Stone, described the terrible acts that seven members of the fraternity committed upon Jackie. Just like Duke University, the public was outraged. This outrage caused the other fraternity houses to be suspended for the rest of the semester by the president of the college and even led to the vandalism of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house.

Rolling Stone soon retracted the article, however. Their statement reads: “In the face of new information, there now appears to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have come to the conclusion that our trust in her was misplaced” (Rolling Stone). The magazine also acknowledged that its reporter never talked to Jackie’s alleged accusers and apologized for only obtaining information from Jackie.

The allegation against the fraternity quickly was proven untrue. The fraternity members were found innocent with no apologies from the community or Rolling Stone. Jackie walked away with no criminal charges.

Both of these accusations have forever changed the lives of the people involved. Sexual assault and rape are serious crimes and topics for universities to teach their students about. These crimes should result in the punishments our legal system hands down to accusers now, but what about fake accusations?

Unfortunately, the topic of rape is so touchy that many are unwilling to do anything about false claims. Just the mere suggestion that a person has done something is enough to convict them in the court of public opinion. Web sites feature arrest mug shots and identify charges; the wrongfully accused cannot protect their reputations. This can have life changing effects, public ridicule, and emotional harm. Can we consider this justice?

A Student Activist Movement

 

Asti_White_HeadShot
Asti White, Contributing Writer, Non-Profit Leadership/Entrepreneurship and Servant Leadership, ’17

The student leaders who are represented in Transformational Leadership have gone to great extremes listening to the voices of students and gathering data that we find beneficial for the life of LaGrange College. It is our goal to be very specific and bring clarity to issues that students are facing. Our mission is to create a campus environment in which student voices are not only heard and recognized, but are also acted upon.

We believe that as we are doing this, students can more fully express their concerns and expose the heart of any situation. While we built our foundation around an advocacy project, we spent a lot of time considering many different avenues that we could address and what could have a true and lasting impact on all involved. The more we began processing information of what is going on around us both globally and here at LaGrange College, we began to have a clearer vision on the direction we needed to take.

As a college, we stand on pillars [civility, diversity, service, global engagement, and excellence] that depict an ethical and caring community. We stand at LaGrange College and participate in a mission for challenging the mind and inspiring the soul while the vision shows a transformative experience for students’ lives. As responsible students who live with integrity and moral courage, we are inspired to communicate effectively in order to provide growth.

 

As a group of concerned junior and senior leaders here on campus, we have been able to use this class to facilitate a dialogue with students to ask questions and receive answers. The more we heard the same responses from students, the stronger we became interested in diving deeper to see what was actually happening at the core of these issues. As we joined together and gave significant amounts of intentional observation with a heavy dose of listening, we found that specific issues were on a repetitive broken record.

LaGrange has provided opportunities for students to gain knowledge and experience through the use of programs, functions, activities, in classroom experience, field experience, and traveling around the world. All of these facets are ideal for students because it provides opportunities that are not found among many other colleges. We have heard from students that they are grateful for what is provided. Yet, there are finite and specific aspects to each that have a greater effect on students.

Concentrating on the pivotal points around the on-campus experience, we went to day-time students and began conversations. We have gathered responses from over 300 students. In this information, we quickly found that similar if not identical responses grew substantially. To gain a stronger and fuller breadth of information and understanding on both sides we met with other leaders on campus. We brought in SGA representatives from the Executive Board to see if and how the procedures are in place to enable students to voice their concerns. After speaking with these leaders we learned the specific avenues that are already in place for students to share about their experiences here at LaGrange College.  

Students are often found to complain about the same three key issues: the dining experience, housing, and National services. In each personal answer, there was gravity, possibilities, and solutions. Students are more interested in the quality of their experience at LaGrange rather than the quantity of their experiences.  

The Transformational Leadership class has provided opportunity to hearing these concerns. Now what can we do to bring solutions?

Your concerns are valid and it is important for you to make them heard. Please be adamant in contacting your SGA representatives and Dean of Students. Please think about your issue or concern on all levels and explain its severity  and why your concern matters.

Let us not set a bar for mediocrity. Instead, let us all strive for excellence in each arena that we participate in at the college. As we express our concerns, let us do it in a professional manner before we present it to the leaders on campus. Let us not be confined in our thoughts or ways of what is before us, but instead explore new creative ways to bring the entire LaGrange College experience to a place of transparency on all levels. Transparency requires all parts of the college to work together through communicating clearly to find the best and most equitable solution.

As there are many components to a college campus, we can think of the campus being like a machine with lots of parts. A machine requires regular maintenance and most importantly a machine requires oil between every facet for the machine to operate properly. Making strides to a campus culture of continuous communication with other students, staff, faculty, and higher administration can be beneficial to all.

 

A Cry for Help

FB_IMG_1461117501661
Jamarcus Watkins, Contributing Writer, Biology, ’19

The time had come, that moment I had dreaded every day of my life, the time to take some initiative. As I made my way into the building, a cold shiver came about me as I started my way up the stairs. My fear and nervousness increased with every step.

On the third floor, I began to think, “Maybe this won’t be so bad? Maybe it’s not as hard as I think it is?”
            I weaved my way through the lab stations, around the shelves of beakers and flasks, and there it was. His office. I approached the door and knocked.
            “Come in,” he shouted.
            “Dr. McCoy,” I said. “I need help. I have to bring my grade up.”
            “Well, Jamarcus, you’re in luck. I’m holding a review session tonight for the test this Friday,” he said.
            Embracing the responsibility of making my own decisions and thinking for myself has never really been hard for me. My mother taught me to be independent. Not once did I have to ask my mother to do anything for me from my sixth-grade year to now. Yes, she has always had my back and been my support system, but she’s not the “hand holding” type that never wants their child to grow up.
            Despite my upbringing, when it came time for me to ask for help, I found it very difficult. Not because I didn’t know how to approach the situation, but the fact that this was something I had never done before. The experience of having to ask was something new and strange to me.

For instance, I knew I was failing the class, yet I never asked questions, I went to tutoring maybe twice a week, and even then, I never asked for help. This makes me seem like I didn’t care to bring my grade up, but I’ve always been independent.
            Going to Dr. McCoy’s office to meet with him was pretty intimidating. I had never really talked with him before, except in class, when he called on me to answer questions. Just the thought of us talking one-on-one about my performance and grade in his class worried me. There were numerous times where I would stop and question whether or not I should turn around, head back to my room, and rough it out.
            The experience as a whole was very humbling. Seeing how easy it is to go and ask for help made me realize that sometimes it’s okay to be dependent on others, especially your professors. This all goes into becoming an adult and growing up. I felt a lot better knowing that Dr. McCoy actually cares about my grade and wants to see me succeed.
            Maybe having to ask my professor for help and going to a tutoring session could have been avoided if I had managed my time a lot better and actually studied. If I put as much effort into actually working to improve my grade as I do in my other courses, I wouldn’t be on the brink of failing.

In the end, it’s not about how you start but how you finish.And there I was, trying to finish it right.

A week after our meeting, Dr. McCoy walked around the room handing back the tests. They were folded to keep the grade a secret. Every time he walked my way, I felt my hands shaking and the nerves kicking in. He called my name and my heart raced. He handed me my test.

I just stared at it.

I waited until I was the only one left on my row before I checked the grade. I slowly opened the first page to find an eighty five in the top right corner.

A slight smile emerged upon my face. I packed my things and headed out the door.

I did it.

 

Every Body is Valuable: The Body Acceptance Movement

Success

Article was submitted anonymously 

Last year, YouTuber Nicole Arbour uploaded “Dear Fat People,” a video aimed at the 35% of North Americans who are obese. In it, she acknowledges that people are already mad at this video. Then, she jokes that has the ability to run away from fat people by just walking away.

She says, “If we offend you so much that you lose weight, then I’m okay with that.” Arbour seems to hope that she offends obese viewers enough that they are inspired to change their bodies.

This February, Arbour released a new video entitled “Dear Fat People 2: The Second Helping,” where she reacted to the launch of the new Barbies and having a plus-size model on the cover of Sports Illustrated. At the end, she even showed a few responses from people who had been motivated by her previous video.

As an obese person, watching her videos was interesting. Honestly, I hated watching them. Her opinions brought up so many of my old feelings of worthlessness.

I’m fat. No one pointed it out to me until I was twelve-years-old, and it was then that I realized that meant I was unattractive and worthless.

I was in no way a late bloomer. In elementary school, I was the tallest girl in my class, and in second grade, I was already wearing a bra. But in sixth grade, I stopped growing taller, and I didn’t know how to stop growing sideways.

I wasn’t an inactive kid. My days were spent playing outside with my sister and our dog. But all of a sudden, that wasn’t enough. I had to lose weight.

I contemplated anorexia, contemplated bulimia, but I knew I couldn’t starve myself or make myself throw up. I knew all the latest nutrition information, knew about the benefits of exercising, but nothing worked for me.

Instead, I developed awful eating habits. Food became associated with shame for me. I hated being hungry. I hated craving food because I thought it made me weak.

I never lost any weight.

A few years later, I started counting calories. Each week, I went down in the amount I allowed myself.

It worked.

I was losing weight. Finally, people were proud of me. My family started noticing a difference, and they wanted to know what I was doing. I was so ecstatic. I had all these false expectations for my weight loss. People would become friendlier towards me.  I would appreciate myself more. I expected all of these different aspects in  my life to change because I weighed differently.

But they didn’t.

I spent eight years hating myself and that is far too long. It wasn’t weight loss that changed my confidence.

It was my attitude.

Last year, I began to think about weight, health, and expectations differently. I began to contemplate why I wanted to lose weight, and none of the reasons were because I wanted to. All my thoughts were  about other people.

It took me about a full year to readjust my thinking. I love myself, and have achieved more in a year of loving myself than I did in eight years of hating myself. I became more confident. I wore clothes I wanted to wear. I took more pride in myself and my accomplishments. I exercised when I wanted to, stopped caring about what other people thought about me, and  started thinking differently about others .

I’m not jealous of other people’s bodies anymore. Not every day is easy; I am a young adult woman living in a complicated, image-obsessed world.  But I now know that I am worth the extra effort it takes to love myself. I can recognize negative behaviors, like when I’m thinking negative thoughts about myself in relation to Instagram or Pinterest models. I know to turn my computer off, and not torture myself constantly.

Being Dead Serious About My Generation

IMG_20160420_165138516
Meagan Lennon, Contributing Writer, Biology, ’19

In order to defy some millennial stereotypes, I decided to hold a vigil at a stranger’s grave. This experience gave me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and think about a complete stranger and his life. This life experience also helped me realize that I am not too busy to deal with life’s issues, helped me think about history, and helped me defy the stereotypes that millennials care about nothing but themselves.

Some claim that millennials do not know history. One reason might be that millennials have grown up with Google in our pockets. Whenever something is mentioned that we do not know or want to find out more about, we can simply pull out our phones and say, “OK Google.” In my own case, I was able to retain my knowledge of history and apply it not only to my life, but to that of Mr. Reece C. Bowen (1901-1977).

I picked this grave because it is from the early 1900s. While there, I could not help but think of the life this person lived. Additionally, the gravestone was inscribed “There will be peace in the valley,” which made me think about everything this person lived through. Would he be disappointed to see all of the wars still going on? Did he believe that peace was truly possible?

While performing the graveside vigil, I came upon the startling realization that I made time in my crazy, stress-inducing schedule to talk to a dead stranger. Many people use the excuse “I’m too busy” for just about everything. From exercise to reading, this excuse is there every step of the way. People tend to think that their lives are too busy to add extra things to their schedules; this leads to the infamous “I’m too busy to do that” or “I can’t do that today, but I can start tomorrow.” More often than not, people forget about tasks rather than actually doing them.

Additionally, many millennials use this excuse when they do not really care about whatever task it is they have to do. This is why members of older generations decided to label this generation as lazy. If I was able to escape college life for an hour on a chilly, rainy day, people can step away from reality for just a little bit to focus more on others.

Performing a vigil for a complete stranger was a humbling experience. I sometimes have trouble looking at an issue from someone else’s point of view, yet I had no problem looking at life from Mr. Bowen’s point of view. He grew up in an era riddled with terrible wars and conflicts, for during his time on this planet, he lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and wars associated with communism. Maybe that is why “peace” is the center of the gravestone.

Mr. Bowen was more than likely drafted into war as soon as he turned the right age, and that is how he spent his life–being a pawn in someone else’s war. What really makes Mr. Bowen so amazing is the fact that after all of the wars he had been through, he still thought peace was possible. Every time I think of him, my mind goes to “There will be peace in the valley.”

Someday, I hope to be as optimistic about life  as Mr. Bowen.

We Are a Generation

557410_4399519111571_1276792286_n
Trinity Lynn Hightower, Contributing Wrier, English, ’17

I belong to the generation that doesn’t care. My grandparents’ generation cared about most everything. They cared about sexuality, religion, political affiliation, and race. Any change at all created a rift in their society. My parents’ generation cared a little less than my grandparents, but the strict ideas of those before them seems to have had an overwhelming impact on their moral compass. Unlike the generations before mine, previous moral traditions haven’t had as much of an effect.

In grade school, we were taught to think for ourselves, and not to let our elders shape our views. We were taught to have open opinions, and diverse friend groups. We were taught that our decisions were exactly that. Ours. My generation believes in sex before marriage, and that you need to spend at least a few nights at your significant other’s “dwelling place” before you can truly know if he/she is “the one.” We believe in voting for a candidate based on their platform, not their political affiliation. We do judge (generally very publicly) the decisions of others, but we don’t try to change their life choices.

It has not gone unnoticed how much the previous generations before us disagree with our life choices, but that’s kind of the point. We don’t care. We don’t care if you don’t like our way of thinking, or learning, or loving, or even expressing.

Or, that’s what we want you to think at least.

My generation may be one that doesn’t care about the big issues, but it is also one filled with an overwhelming lack of confidence. We spend an exuberant amount of time worrying about the little issues instead. We worry about caring too much. We define ourselves just as I did above, and we are okay with others defining us as well.

This is the generation that I belong to. It is one where even the coffee we drink plays a role in defining our image. We were taught about acceptance and diversity, but we were also taught that everyone needs to find a place in this world and that our generation is responsible for everything that comes after us. We were taught to over-analyze things. We are a generation who is anxious. We are anxious, and we are lazy. We want to express all of our ideas and opinions, but we don’t want to listen or read the ideas of those before us. We want to write things and to have people read the things that we wrote, and we want  their lives to change because of it. But, we don’t want our lives to change because of other people. We are a selfish generation. We don’t care about the big issues because in most instances the big issues do not have an effect on us personally.

We are a selfish, lazy, anxious generation who doesn’t care about the big stuff, but we do support others in our generation. That is what makes it so great. None of the other defining characteristics about our generation matter.

What does matter is that we have a general understanding that we all don’t care about things, and we support each other in that. We may be a generation who represents all of the above things, but we are also one that motivates. We push one another to be individuals and we agree to disagree because of that fact. I am a part of this generation, and I don’t care.

The Gap

 

Headshot for paper
Celeste Crowe, Contributing Writer, Art and Design, ’19

One day I sat eating lunch with a group of friends when one girl remarked that she was worried about her grandmother becoming older.  She explained that lately her mind had not been sharp and she was becoming “extremely forgetful.”

Her grandmother was only fifty.

My dad turned sixty this year.

You see, I am the child of a generation gap, meaning that if my parents had kids “when they were supposed to” those kids would already be grown and have children my age.  But that’s not what happened with my parents. They got started late.  I am the oldest of three sisters and my dad was forty-one when I was born.  

This made my childhood different from that of my peers.  I had a different social and cultural experience, not to mention a different relationship with my parents, and that is not a bad thing.  Having older parents has had a positive effect on my life.

One of the side effects of having older parents is that they are more traditional at times.  I would hear friends complain about how their parents just didn’t get it and were so old-fashioned. My friends did not seem able to bridge the generation gap even when there wasn’t that much difference between the two generations to begin with.  A greater distance between my parents’ generation and mine has helped me to better understand older generations.  I identify more with the adults with whom I interact because of the time I spend with my parents and I understand why my parents and grandparents hold the values that they do.  They have traditional values that I have been expected to uphold and they desire that I act in a similar manner to how they behaved as teens.  

This was not always easy, I had strict rules to follow when it came to interacting with adults, peers, and boys.  But in the end, I realized that my parents were working to shape me into an upstanding member of society.

My parents’ values and social expectations were not the only opinions they held that were different from those of other families. Their taste in music, T.V. and their views on pop culture were different from my peers’ families. We listened to The Beatles and the Grateful Dead growing up, not Carrie Underwood or Selena Gomez.  We watched The Andy Griffith Show and The Goonies, not Shrek or Hannah Montana.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

While I enjoyed all of these things tremendously, there were times when my lacking knowledge of popular culture left me frustrated as a child.  I hadn’t seen the latest episode of this show and I didn’t know any of the lyrics to that song.  I was always lost in conversations.  This made making friends difficult when I didn’t share any interests with my peers.  Don’t get me wrong, The Beatles will always be my favorite band and I will always go for an eighties’ movie over anything else. It was only when I became a little older that I truly appreciated the culture my parents immersed me in and became glad that I could share those things with them.

Not only did the age difference between me and my parents affect our relationship, it affected our relationship with other families, as well.  Most children that were my age had parents who had different life experiences than mine.  Finding friendship among these other couples was difficult for my parents and this made playdates less than fun for them.

It goes the other way, too. My parents’ friends had children who were many years older than me.  I did not relate with them and couldn’t have any type of camaraderie with them. This created some disconnect between us and our cohorts.  But I believe that disconnect ultimately brought my family closer together.  

Studies have shown that older first-time parents usually have a closer relationship with their children.  A couple who waits to have children is more likely to be educated, married, and financially stable.  This gives parents more time to devote to their child and allows them to become closer.  By spending more time with each other and sharing a lot of the same interests, your parents become some of your closest friends.

For instance, because of our shared love of music, when I wanted to go to a concert, my dad was just as excited.  Meanwhile, because my mother and I have spent so much time together she understands me like no one else can and respects who I am as a person.  For me, the transition into college has been made even more difficult because I have had to leave my best friends, my family, behind.  But luckily I still have their support.  I have no idea what my life would be like if things had been different and we had not been able to forge such a tight, loving bond as a family.

My childhood was different from those around due to my parents’ age.  These differences have helped to shape me into the person I am.  My parents’ traditional values taught me how to be polite and grow into a mature adult.  They introduced me to what would become my favorite parts of popular culture, and most importantly, they nurtured me in a close, loving relationship.   Parents’ increasing ages do affect their children in a positive manner.  Because of this, I’m glad my parents are older, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.