BY: PAOLO JOVENTINO
I will always remember my first battle with existential crisis. In grade seven, I developed what I believed to be anxiety, and once I began to ask the real questions, I discovered it was. What I first learned was that it affected my school grades, because instead of grades I would worry about what my life was going to be like. Eventually, I was recommended to a social worker, a Spanish priest named Humberto.
Humberto told me I would eventually find the answers I was seeking, as I grew older. Like many of my fellow millennials, I had difficulties finding a job right after school. Even when I finally landed a full-time role I still found myself asking more of the same questions – and it has never stopped. It’s not depression or anxiety. It’s just natural for us as sentient beings to continue to ponder our existence. And we won’t find the answers in life by simply going through the motions, but by exploring. Luckily, modern society has created the proper conditions for us as a generation to do so.
At some point in your life, you’ve probably wondered about the same existential questions. It’s normal, especially if you’re a millennial. We are the restless generation. We grew up in an era with limitless options and suffer from ‘choice overload’, and it affects how we live.
A Gallup report revealed 21 per cent of millennials have reported a job change in the last year. Millennials are less willing to stay in a position (especially one they don’t like) than non-millennials, which makes them dubbed ‘job-hoppers’. Expedia also found in a 2013 survey that millennials were far more likely to travel for business or leisure than older generations. Also, as of 2014, only 31.6 per cent of American millennials were reported to be married, down from 43 per cent in 2000 according to the Pew Research Center.
These statistics help paint a picture of how we live. We are explorers. Many of us don’t stay at the same position, not only because advancement in the workplace is more difficult, but also because we have a hunger for something more. We are less inclined to get married, not because we are self-centred and incapable of commitment, but because we can’t fathom a boxed-in life like we’ve seen before in the baby boomer era. And we like to travel because we can. We have wanderlust and feel the world is our sandbox to do with as we please.
The boomers did not have the same freedoms or technologies growing up. They also didn’t contend with the competitive job market we have presently. Full-time positions are harder to come by and dating sites are opening left and right despite a confounding number of millennials still claiming to be single. These statistics, though seemingly unrelated, suggest that we as a generation are not trained household pets bent to follow rules and respect boundaries. Instead, we are like a pack of wolves going and doing as we please with the occasional lone wolf going even further beyond the rest.
We can look at these statistics and feel doom and gloom. Maybe we will never find a stable career or a life partner. Maybe we will never ‘settle down’ and be fated to a life of ephemerality. Or we can look at it with a sense of renewed optimism. We don’t have to tie ourselves down and live in a little bubble. We have the opportunities to work our own jobs and travel when we want to. We can continue to search for a deeper meaning to our existence and get a better sense of the world we live in without having to sacrifice our freedom in favour of a set number of hours or physical limitations.
We have the resources to travel. A quick Google search or asking your local travel agents for a plan is all you need. Often it’s not the money or time that holds us back, but fear. Your desire to explore the universe and keep rediscovering yourself should be stronger than your fear of failure or of the unknown. You may not find the answers you seek when traveling the world but it is guaranteed you will find something just as meaningful, if not more.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien