Commuting from the cultural bastion of Castleton each morning has been the bane of my existence for the past few years. The first part of the drive is smooth most days, everyone seems to be on board with what we’re all trying to accomplish as a team (The holistic mindset blocks road-rage) until it’s time to merge on to i-70. There is always some unnecessary and unforeseen build up and as much as I try to understand traffic as normal, it still blows my mind. What seems like eons is less than 15 minutes, thanks in part to my own aggression or the normal flow of things on this busy highway; but I always question why we were backed up in the first place. Usually there’s one person who’s the culprit – not paying attention or just a terrible driver.
From bi-polar traffic during the mornings to standstill drives home, this commute serves as a microcosm for being an Indy millennial. Whether ripe with ideas or passionate about one’s job, there is an ominous sense of comfort during those early stages – you know, the post-college grad, “world is your oyster” type – but what do we do when it’s time to reach the next level? We reach this standstill of ideas or career progression after we taken all the necessary precautions and steps to get to this point. Much like the highway, it’s those ahead of us, most times a select few impeding our progress – at times for our own good.
Full disclosure – I don’t speak for all millennials, but I can speak on my own experience and that of my friends.
For many of us, we’re closing in on who we want to be, where we want to go and how to do it. Although we haven’t got it all figured out, we realize the importance of showing up and being involved. We believe in something bigger than ourselves and work hard because that’s what we were taught (while working smarter and finding shortcuts). There is a small sense of envy toward those with everything figured out, but the road less traveled is more compelling now than ever before.
There isn’t one way to be successful, one way to achieve those seemingly unattainable goals; there are many, and having a hand in more than a few things definitely helps. The model for success has changed, as much as we want to stand comfortable in the days of old, remaining stuck in the ways of old doesn’t push the meter forward. So we ask questions, and press for accountability – not out of spite or disrespect, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Remember that scene from Mean Girls – “Have you personally been affected by Regina George?” well that’s exactly how I feel about President Donald Trump. The month after the election were the pissed off type of interesting, but more than anything I had the general realization that we must innovate, we must change not only from process, but also mindset.
Along with millions of my fellow Americans I watched protests in major cities. I listened to panel discussions, searched for factual news and sat thankful for a more civically engaged level of discourse at my barber shop. With all the frustrations seen from friends and colleagues, I also recognized the importance of channeling this anger for something tangible, something that is sustaining and progressive.
I look around and see these inroads being made all the time. From urban development to cultural influences taking shape, my hometown is well on its way. A few recent headlines:
“One of the best cities for young professionals” (Forbes)
“One of the hottest food cities in America” (Zagat)
“Most underrated food city in the U.S.” (Conde Nast Traveler)
As a lifelong Indy resident I look at the headlines and one of the lines from Notorious B.I.G.’s iconic record “Juicy” comes to mind: “…I couldn’t picture this”
These accolades don’t happen unless we continue to innovate and engage in not only ourselves, but our community as well. While on the road, while we wait, why not become the pillars of society outside of the already preconceived realm. While young professional groups are sprouting up all around, it’s those individuals thinking outside the box who push this millennial culture forward. We took the Hashtag Lunchbag model because it wasn’t the traditional philanthropic activity. It wasn’t sitting in meetings, simply discussing ideas; it was doing the work and engaging people. This sort of pop up philanthropy seems foreign to many of our first time volunteers, but its worked for the past 19 months. From the 9-to-5ers to the entrepreneurs, there are plenty of us who recognize need and are finding ways to play an active role in shaping the future.
As much as we’re creating our own paths, it’s important to respect and learn from our predecessors. At times the age-old idea of hurry up and wait works – at times, but it’s always good to be ready to speed up or hop in front of someone when necessary.