I turn 23 years old today and I can tell you that basically no one cares what I or most other 20-somethings think.
Which makes sense.
There’s only been so much life experience that has been had. We’re fresh out of college, most of us are still working our first jobs. We haven’t seen much of the world and are more likely than not to be ignorant about most things.
Millennials seem to get chastised all the time about being entitled or lazy, thinking we know it all or not knowing enough, protesting literally everything or not caring about anything at all. It’s a complicated mix of criticisms that can generally be applied to most people but I get it.
We as millennials seem to be caught between two extreme expectations. We’re somehow expected to both sit down, shut up, and learn and also follow our dreams, make a difference, and change the world. Sometimes the same people that talk about empowering millennials are the ones that’ll tell you to slow down if you actually start doing something. Of course that’s not everyone who cares to actually take the time to teach, encourage, and empower us, but I’ve definitely run into those people before.
It’s the classic “needs 5 years experience for job but need a job to get experience” problem that we always feel caught up in. Are we lazy when we don’t do the things other generations expect of us or are we trapped? Of course it’s some combination of both. But the conversation never seems to reflect that.
So why does another 23 year old need a blog? Is it just another entitled arrogance that leads someone to believe their voice deserves to be heard? It is just their narcissism rearing it’s ugly, selfie-taking, over-sharing head again? Is it just like one pastor said, “BLOG: Basement-Living, Opinion-Giving”?
It’s probably all of those things.
It’s also because before I was 23, I was 16 and alone. I was a new Jesus-Follower after being an atheist after I rejected many aspects of the Christianity I was originally presented with. I was navigating the difficult waters of genuinely pursuing Jesus and who God is as revealed through him and feeling like I was constantly met with pushback from my peers and systems I was in the whole time. I was navigating having a broken family yet a committed relationship with a girl who would become my wife a whole 7 years later. I was navigating growing up and I wished I could have had someone out there who understood me and served as a person who could say, “Me too, I get it. You're okay.”
It’s also because I know that the “sit down and shut up and follow your dreams and make a difference” paradox isn’t something you wander out of. You have to always, always, always live in both. We should always be learning and we should always be making a difference. We should always be humbly listening and always speaking truth to power. You don’t leave the paradox, you live in it.
I don’t launch out in this journey of writing out of pride or having all the answers. I have almost no answers to anything. I feel like that final bit from Bo Burnham’s Make Happy special where he talks about his problems of having hands that are too big to fit inside of a Pringle can and putting too much stuff in his Chipotle burrito so that it doesn’t close. But also having so many conflicted feelings of needing people and fearing people and wanting to give people an experience that he can’t even give himself that it pushes him to perform and tell jokes and do what he does.
What I have is a story and a journey. A story of hurt and brokenness, pain, being alone and being fine, trying out some new things, figuring some out and failing others and God finding me in the midst of it all. A journey of failing, making mistakes, learning from them and seeking wisdom so that I can help other people in the ways that I have been helped or wish I would have been helped.
I know I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I believe that the journey of learning is important.
One of the guys I look up to is Gary Vaynerchuck and he says “document, don’t create.” You can’t create things because you have nothing to create. I’m 23. I don’t have answers and I don’t claim to. But I can document what I’m learning and present it to you hopefully as something to be helpful.
What does it look like to be 23 and follow Jesus today?
I don’t know.
But I’m learning.
And I want to invite you to learn with me.
Thanks for reading.