A tale of two millennials

How much of who we are is a reflection of circumstance versus a reflection of our own freedom of thought, expression and power of will? Could two millennials from two very different walks of life be very much the same?

Josh is a 35 year old male who grew up at the helm of one of the most Conservative states of all of the USA. I am a 30 year old female who grew up in one of the most progressive cities in the world. Josh enrolled in the Marines after high school. I enrolled in University after high school. Josh is married with a children. I have yet to marry and start a family. Josh works for the police. I am unemployed. It’s true, on first appearance, we’re very different people.

We’re very different on paper, that’s for sure. But we’re also very similar in a lot of ways. We’re both very much aligned in our desires for equality, how to treat people and how we wish to be treated. We both studied the same subject in school and understand the importance of good communication in all aspects of life. We both have sincere appreciation for travel, for culture, for people being able to be their authentic and true selves. In a lot of was, we’re two peas in a pod.

What do you think? Are we a product of circumstance, or is there something more to who we grow up to become? Josh and I are sharing some discussions had, some questions answered and some lessons learned. Half of this will be displayed here, on #MillennialLifeCrisis, whilst the other half can be found on Josh’s blog. So, without further ado, these millennials come to you with its noisiest authorities insisting on it being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


Where did you see yourself by the time you were 30 and where were you actually by the time you were 30?

Josh: I set a lot of goals for myself before I was 30, but many of them were experience orientated.  I wanted to have traveled the world, seen a lot of different cultures, served in the military and maybe… had kids and got married.  I didn’t really think a lot about the marriage card until my mid-twenties.   

I ended up achieving most of them.  I served in the U.S. military as a marine. I had a very successful military career and I traveled. I think I hit 15 countries and 4 continents by 24.  I did a lot of traveling outside the military, so I got to experience a lot of cultures. I stayed with families in Cambodia and South Africa.  I got lost a couple times in Europe and South America.  It’s nice accomplishing goals, but it doesn’t always bring happiness.  I wish I had worked more on myself and well-being in those years.  I have a lot of regrets during that time, drank a lot and slept with a lot of women. I didn’t have a lot of meaningful relationships, but meaningless ones, if that makes sense

Vee: I set a great deal of expectations for myself for where I would be when I was 30. I wanted to work in management, I wanted to be changing the face of how people thought about and felt about sports. I wanted to have travelled the world, have mastered my skill-sets and have really enriched the lives of my nieces and nephews. I wanted to be the woman who had it all.

Right now, at 30, I am unemployed, still working on changing the way people feel about sports… but I think that will always be a work in process.

If you could go back in time and tell your 19 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Josh: I could probably write a novel for my 19-year-old self, but one single piece of advice… that’s tough. I probably would tell myself to immediately pursue education and continue doing it until I couldn’t anymore and not give up when moments get hard. I’d also tell myself to not be scared of girls and be respectful to them.

Vee: Oh goodness, it’s really hard to pick just one. I think I’ll have to settle with ‘Dump that asshole and do it right now!’

Did you feel pressure to complete school within a time period and find steady work, immediately after college or high school? 

Josh: Yes and no, I felt like when I graduated High School it was kind of the thing to do.  If you didn’t go to college I felt like society looked down on you and I felt shame for not wanting to pursue education.  I feel like a lot of motivation is brought about by shame, its good to avoid doing things because you feel shame for not doing them.  

But, I did start working pretty quick. I had a bunch of crappy jobs and then I got a good one. And, then in the middle of the Iraq stuff I joined the military. It was something I’d always wanted to do and it changed my life.  I don’t know if I’d say it was good, but its effect was really massive.  I felt like I gave the best years of my life to the marines and I know I can’t get those back.  

Vee: I went to University right after high school because I received a scholarship. To me, it just seemed like a no-brainer… get the degree now, do the fun stuff later. After I graduated from University I packed up all of my things and went on a road trip for several months. It was incredible. Then, when I returned from my trip, a job just sort of fell into place… almost as though the universe had a plan for me.

Do you feel like if or when, you’ll have to be involved in their lives to a certain extent, pta, sports? 

Josh: I hate the expectations that go with kids.  I feel like as a parent you’re supposed to be at all the school events, join the PTA, play youth baseball and dance.  It’s really hard finding time for everything and I don’t want my kids to miss out, but I’d rather spend the time one on one with them rather than watching them dance.  I’ve learned I can’t do it all.

Vee: If I ever do have children I hope that I am involved in their lives. I don’t think I’d ever have kids just to pawn them off on their dad, or my family members. If I have kids, I want to be my own version of Lorelei Gilmore.

Do you feel like there is a salary or amount of money you’ve expected to be making?

Josh: Yes and no.  I used to think I should make at least as much as my parents, but now, years later I don’t care.  My family was pretty middle class.  My Dad worked on the assembly line making cars at Ford and my mom was an Interior Designer.  I don’t know why I felt this way, it really doesn’t bother me anymore.  I want to give my kids a good life, but I feel like I can do that with less money or more, it’s just about how I spend and save it.

Vee: I have never had a fixed salary in my mind that I desired. I simply wanted to be able to support myself. I’m a very simple person in nature, so it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy. I feel like so long as I can make enough to make myself happy and keep myself housed and fed and healthy, then I’ll have done well.

Do you feel shame or any unfair expectations? 

Josh: This is a tough question.  I think the world is full of shame and unfair expectations.  For me, I freak out about money.  It’s a big trigger for me.  I want to be able to feed my family, keep a roof over their heads and provide. I also want to take care of them emotionally and developmentally.  I want to support their dreams and leisure pursuits.  I know it’s all pretty deep, but when those expectations get derailed, I stress out and have to center myself.  When I was single I could have cared less about a lot of this stuff.  

I feel like I’m also comparing myself to my peers from High School and College.  And it’s not fair because everyone is different.  Every person has unique expectations put on them and self-inflicted.  I think it’s incredibly helpful to get past the shame and understand our triggers. 

Vee: I feel as though there are most definitely unfair expectations placed on all females in this world. You see it in the media every day – in the laws that are being created, or rewritten to give women less choice and in the lack of representation of females around virtually every executive table and so very many industries.

Furthermore, I feel there are unfair expectations put on millennials. Gen X wants us to follow in their footsteps, and if we don’t they get angry. Baby Boomers don’t understand that we have different values then they did when they were young. I don’t think they want to understand. Both generations see us as entitled, neither generation really tries to understand.


Want to read more about how Josh and I are both extremely similar and extremely different people at the same time? Check out the other half of our interview questions on Josh’s Blog. Visit Creative Words of Life >

Sporadic AF Thoughts, Nov 3.

I had such a good time writing the last post like this that I’ve decided I might do it more often. Though I still don’t like ‘AF’, so I need to come up with a new title. We’ll call that a work in progress.

After a week of feeling as though I really just wasn’t going to survive (yes, I am extremely over-dramatic when I am sick), I am finally starting to feel somewhat/relatively human again. I’m not 100%, but I can feel myself getting better, and that’s what’s important.

The sweet and wonderful Hilary from SereneLuna Blog sent me the kindest early birthday card/present and it absolutely brightened my spirits this week. There’s something about a hand written letter/note that will just never go out of style in my heart. It’s timeless, it’s so thoughtful and it really makes you (in this case me) feel as though someone genuinely cares. I think that’s why I really appreciate thoughtful birthday cards. Does anyone else keep their birthday cards? I keep mine. Is that weird?

I’ve been on the hunt for a ‘natural’ deodorant for a couple years now. And yes, I fully understand the dichotomy that ‘natural’ deodorants present. I think the biggest struggle that I am having in this search is that the majority of deodorants marketed as ‘natural’ are ingredient based in essential oils. I happen to be wildly allergic to most essential oils and using these products often causes me to get blistery rashes. So how does one find a ‘natural’ deodorant without any essential oils in it?

There’s been a growing narrative in Canada about a divided country, as the ‘Wexit’ movement gets propagated in the media and is gaining steam. Meanwhile, more and more multi-million dollar corporations have collected their tax-cuts from the Alberta government and are fleeing. Jason Kenney is running the narrative that this is ‘Trudeau’s fault’, ignoring the very basic fact that trickle-down economics don’t work. Trickle-down economics have never worked. The rich stay rich by hoarding their riches. They don’t invest it into their employees and the economy through sponsorship and infrastructure, they lock it in bank accounts in far off lands that have limited laws with respect to banking.

Following in the footsteps of his idol, the holier than thou Trump of Donald Senior, Jason Kenney handed out a corporate tax cut earlier this year promising the public this was a smart move for a better Alberta and that this would benefit everyone. And, as the corporations have subsequently taken their money and run, the Wexit movement now has more than 40,000 members on their online platform. Interesting…

It didn’t work when Donald Trump did it. It hasn’t ever worked for any government before and we all knew that it wasn’t going to work for Jason Kenney, but he did it anyway. He sold the public on a bill of goods that was built on pillars of salt and sand, meanwhile silencing anyone who dared remind him that trickle-down economics don’t work.

Now, I know that politics can get rather boring for people to follow at times, so I relate this to pop culture. Remember this fact: the rich get rich by hoarding their riches.

Kylie Jenner has recently been named the youngest self-made billionaire ever. Kylie, along with the rest of the Kardashian family, has a slew of employees who work for her. In her home, in her office, in the factories making the cosmetics that she sells. It’s widely reported that each and every one of her employees make minimum wage. It’s also been claimed by the employees who make Kylie Cosmetics that they’re not even provided with the basic safety equipment and working environment to help them properly do their jobs. According to the employees they’re paid only minimum wage, the bare legal minimum that Kylie has to pay them, not provided health insurance, and can at times, work upwards of twelve hours or more on a single shift during peak ‘launches’ for the line. All while only wearing a hear net and safety goggles.

The laboratory that Jenner uses is the same lab that Colour Pop cosmetics uses. And, it’s worth noting that these claims have also been made about Colour Pop Cosmetics as an employer. (Please note these claims of the factory and working conditions have not been verified through what I would consider… “media sources” for lack of better terminology. They’re Indeed reviews, youtube videos of ‘Why I quit working for Kylie’ and so on)

Why does Kylie only pay her employees the bare minimum wage legally required of her in the state of California? Simply put, would she be the youngest self made billionaire had she given them raises? Would she be the youngest self made billionaire had she offered any form of health insurance, chosen to upgrade the factory which her cosmetics are produced, offered employees more safety equipment to do their jobs? Likely not. Rich people stay rich by hoarding their riches.

Now I’m not hating here. I’m simply stating the facts as they relate to politics and they relate popular culture. What the girl has done is created a relatively average product, found the bare minimum it could possibly cost her to produce it and used ‘her brand’ to price it at a markup so high that in just a few short years she’s become a billionaire. She actually sounds pretty intelligent to me. But, she also reminds me of the very important point that trickle-down economics don’t work. In politics, in business, in Alberta, in life in general, it’s human nature to hoard our riches. Therefore, it really doesn’t matter who is in charge, the Oil Industry is still dying and Alberta is still in denial. Okay, I’ve talked about this for farrrrrr too long.

It’s raining outside. Pouring, actually. Consequently the downpour outside my window mimics the downpour in my head. Too many thoughts, too little time. I am a shallow heart with a wandering mind who is presently second guessing anything and everything that I possibly can. I’ll be 31 soon. It’s time to get my life together. I wonder what that looks like.

You are the real Champs.

Shout out to all of the single mom’s in this world. Those of you holding the weight of the universe on your shoulder and making it look easy, though I absolutely know it’s anything but. You have the strength of a thousand soldiers in your single being. Thank you for your tireless efforts, your unconditional love and for your devotion to not just raising kids but raising good people in the process. I see you and I admire you.

Shout out to all of the single dad’s in this world. To the dad’s who, if you have custody or not, still do everything you can to spend every extra moment you have with your kids, because you know how invaluable a dad’s influence has in a child’s life. Thank you for being the handy man, the reliable man and the man who would walk through fire for your kid if you ever needed to. I see you and I appreciate you.

Shout out to all of the masters of co-parenting in this world, because holy crap it ain’t easy. When all you want to do in this world is say ‘It’s my way or the highway’ and you put those feelings aside for the sake of your kids, that shows your strength, humility and grace. It’s not always easy but you always make it work. That’s what your kids are going to think of when they’re adults, that their parents always made it work, no matter the circumstance. I see you and I applaud you.

Shout out to all the parents still together. I want to know your secrets. Long term relationships take serious work, and sacrifice and stresses… all of which get multiplied ten-fold when you have kids. They’re worth it, that’s always true, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. I see you and I praise you.

Shout out to the parents whose kids are grown. May you always know you’re the centre of the universe, even when you’re kids are adults. You’ll always be Point A, Point B and the only point to go to because you’re never too old to need your mom or dad. That doesn’t change. I see you and I respect you for each incredible human you raised.

Lastly, but certainly not least, shout out to all the parents in this world, every last one of you who are just making it work in whatever way you know how. Whatever the circumstance, however it works, you’re doing it right just the way you are. I see you and I thank you. You’re incredible and your kids are lucky to have you.

Adventures in job hunting: I got an actual apology!

At 11:22 this morning, I get the following email:

Hello [CANDIDATE_FIRSTNAME],

Thank you for applying to our Junior Marketing Coordinator opportunity at [X Company].

We sincerely appreciate you taking the time to review and apply to our organization. For this position, we received a high volume of candidates and although your qualifications were impressive, we will not be moving forward with your application at this time. Please feel free to apply to other opportunities that become available with [X Company]

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Kind regards,

Holly [——–] , HR Manager

The email was indeed addressed to ‘CANDIDATE_FIRSTNAME’. I edited out the company name and her last name for privacy reasons. She may suck at her job but I still don’t want to be mean enough to publicly put her on blast. Anyways, my rejection email came addressed to “Candidate_FirstName”.

Naturally, my first thought was “Wow, they couldn’t even take the extra step to insert my actual name in the form field for the automatic response they send to candidates they’re not considering!”

COOL!

I clearly didn’t get considered for this position at all. Which is sad because I spent over a half hour on the application. What a waste of my time…

At 11:37 am, I get another email:

Hello [My Actual Full Name Used],

My sincere apologies for the recent email I sent you. Unfortunately the template did not update correctly to insert your name and for that I am truly sorry.  

Regards,

Holly [——–] , HR Manager

Okay, so she apologized. Do I give her credit? I mean, at least she apologized. On the other hand, she is still sending out pretty tone-deaf generic emails to people and form-filling their names so she doesn’t even have to type them in. So, does she really get credit for not being able to do the one and only step required to sending a rejection email?

I spent a half hour to submit my application and had to submit three references up front and she couldn’t even form-fill my name in the rejection email? LOL What is life?

Some days… some days I feel like I’m really wasting my time with this whole working world. I think I’m just going to run away to the Seychelles and sell fruit on the beach for the rest of my days…

Sincerely,

CANDIDATE_FIRSTNAME (lol)

Blogging 105: How do you get more comments on your blog posts?

Photo credit: lyfemarketing.com

Without knowing it, many of you have taken part in an experiment over the past couple of weeks. What? An experiment? How sneaky of me, I know! The experiment was a test to see just how many comments could be collected on one post, if I asked the right questions. And let me tell you, your responses did not disappoint!

One of the most common things I see asked with respect to blogging is how do you get more people to comment on your blog. People ask here on WordPress, they ask on Twitter, my former bosses used to ask me all the time. How do you get more people to comment on your blog, your content and your message? It’s actually a question asked in the corporate world quite a lot. Even companies like Nike and Starbucks can struggle with getting people to provide feedback.

So how do you encourage engagement? How do you get more comments? How do you cause people to stop by your blog and think ‘I need to comment on this post!’

Suggestion 1: Ask them!

It seems simple, right? But many corporations and individual bloggers forget. We get so wrapped up in sending the message that we want to send that we forget to quite simply ask people what they think, how they feel, what their opinions are.

The two posts on my blog that garnered the most comments over the past few weeks were posts in which I purposefully went out of my way to ask you for your opinions.

And your perspectives, I got! If you read the comments section of these two posts: Absolutely (un)important questions and I would like to hear your opinion you will see oodles of different opinions. Each post has more than 100 comments on it. People went out of their way to not just share line or two, but to send me meaningful, thoughtful opinions of their perspectives.

If you want people to leave comments on your blog, ASK THEM QUESTIONS. Talk with them… instead of at them. Let them know that you want to hear their opinions. Let them know that their opinions, no matter if they align or disagree with your own, are welcome on your blog and then encourage them to share. People like to share their own opinions and will feel a lot safer to do so if you let them know their opinions are welcome on your blog.

Suggestion 2: Thank people who do share.

All too often I stop by someone’s blog to leave a comment and they don’t bother to respond to my comment.

This is totally fine. You don’t have to respond to your comments. But I truly believe that if you don’t respond to the comments people leave on your blog, they aren’t likely to leave another. It’s true for me, and as you’re reading this, it’s probably true for you. If you take the time to leave someone a heartfelt comment and they don’t bother to write back, why would you do that ever again?

This is why it’s really important that, if you do get comments on your blog, you respond. Responding to your comments lets people know that, whether they agree with your not, their thoughts are welcome on your blog. Responding to your comments encourages people to come back to your blog. Responding to your comments shows the people reading your blog that you’re thankful for their reading your blog. When your readers find you, let them know you’re thankful for every comment they leave.

Also – please remember, not everyone communicates in the same way. Some people have a way with words where they can leave you a really eloquent comment whereas others might just say ‘Thank you for writing this’. Please don’t devalue ‘thank you for writing this’. A reader is still valuable to your blog, no matter how long of a comment they leave.

Suggestion 3: Encourage feedback.

While not every post on your blog is going to be you specifically going out of your way to ask people for their answers to important questions, you can ask for feedback on your own content.

When you make a blog post, encourage people to respond. If you’re sharing your opinion, ask people for theirs. If you’re sharing a short story, ask people what they think of your short story. If you’re sharing your art, ask people to rate it on a scale from 1-10. However you see fit, whatever you see most aligning with your post, encourage readers to give you feedback.

Please note – When you’re encouraging feedback, don’t end your posts with a question that can be answered with a single word. End your post with a question that asks people for their opinions.

Example: You write a post about a truly orgasmic pizza eating experience. On the end of the post you leave a question.

Bad Questions: Do you like pizza? Do you like cheese? Do you like pineapple on pizza?

Good Questions: Can you tell me about a time in your life when you just couldn’t believe the pizza you were eating? What made that pizza so incredible? What about that memory sticks out so well in your mind?

The reason why the bad questions are bad questions is because someone can say “Yes. No. Yes”. It’s so simple that it doesn’t really encourage any informative feedback, it only asks yes or no questions. Yes or no questions that can be answered so quickly people might just skip over answering them at all. On the other hand, with the good questions listed, if people read that, they’re going to want to share their stories with you. They’re going to take the time to think about the best pizza they’ve ever had and they’re going to type up the whole story in your comments button.

Suggestion 4: Leave a comment on another blog.

Simply put, people are more likely to view and leave comments on the blogs of people who’ve left comments on their blog.

Now it’s important to note that with this suggestion, I DO NOT mean to spam people. Don’t just go to someone’s blog and write “Hey Check out my blog!” in their comments. I mean that you should go to someone’s blog, leave them a thoughtful comment and then mention “Hey, I also just recently touched on this subject on my blog. Would you consider reading it?”

It’s worth noting that this happens ALL THE TIME in the corporate world. The Oreo brand is notorious for leaving comments on other brands from KitKat to Boeing to American Eagle. They do this because they know that in doing so, they’re supporting other companies, but also supporting themselves. When people see a comment from Oreo on an American Eagle release, Oreo knows that’s going to put their brand at top of mind for a lot of American Eagle customers. It’s a small piece to marketing, but if you do it properly, an effective one.


Encouraging engagement can be difficult when you’re just starting out. But, it’s worth noting that things are always difficult when you’re just starting out. The important thing is that you try. That you put your efforts towards not just building a blog but building a community. Because people want to know they’re a part of a community and they’re being talked with, not at.

Take it slow and steady, one step at a time. Even Everest is conquerable so long as you go at your own pace.

Good luck!

Don’t settle for anything just because it’s something.

Love hasn’t always been kind. Love hasn’t always been giving, or thoughtful or helpful. Love hasn’t always been good.

The first time I fell in love, I was over the moon. He was absolutely everything to me and held more power over me than I would ever like to admit to.

In my younger, more vulnerable years, lacking in self-confidence at the time (and for years after due to his treatment), I accepted his shitty treatment for longer than I would like to admit to. I didn’t just accept it, I welcomed it. He had anger issues. And, looking back, he had serious issues with depression as well. He really liked to take out his frustrations on me. Yelling, screaming, throwing things at me, insulting me, preying on my every insecurity, getting in his car and leaving me places, forcing me to find a way home on my own. These were just things I came to expect. While I was shocked the day I found out he was cheating on me, I look back now on his behaviour and I think of how I should have seen the signs. I should have known what was coming. I really shouldn’t have been surprised.

And every time he treated me poorly, like clockwork, he’d go buy a fancy piece of jewelry or an expensive pair of shoes, show up a day or two later with them tied together with a nice pink bow. Every time I saw a little pink bow, I forgave him. I don’t know why. I look back on it now and I think I was mighty stupid for accepting gifts as though it is/was/could ever be any apology for his shitty treatment of me.

I’ve always hated pink bows.

There’s a quote from a book (that I’ll admit I have ever read) that rings true for a lot of people in this world. In The perks of being a Wallflower, the quote is ‘We accept the love we think we deserve.’

How fucking true is that? (Please excuse my language)

It’s so relevant. People who think low of themselves, people who struggle with self confidence, they’re so easy to accept shitty treatment under the mask of ‘love’ just because they feel that’s all they deserve. I know this because that’s what I felt I deserved back then.

If you’ve been there, if you are there now, please know that you deserve more. Don’t feel bad for thinking you deserve more. Don’t feel bad for wanting more. Don’t settle for anything just because it’s something. Love should be better than that. You are worth more than that.

Love should be patient. Love should be kind. Love should be thoughtful and helpful, fulfilling and caring. Love should bring out the best in you. Love should never make you doubt your self worth. Love should never make you question your value.

If you’re there in a tough relationship now or if you’ve been there before, I completely I understand. I was that person who didn’t think there was anything better. And trust me, I was so wrong. Looking back now, I’m happy that I was wrong. Because he was a piece of shit. And now that I know better is out there, I have to believe better is out there for you, too.

I wish for everyone to find their Knight in shining armour. Or Knightess!(yeah, pretty sure I just made that up because there’s no female form of Knight, is there?)