There are certain moments that will come to mind again and again in your life as the very moment you transitioned from one phase of life to the next. Of course, there are the obvious landmarks: high school graduation, leaving home, first mortgage, marriage etc, but there are also smaller moments that often have just as significant an impact.
Standing on the cold cement floor of my aunt’s basement, tears of disbelief began to fall as Bonnie broke the news to me about Santa Clause. She had found out only the day before, and though she was five years older, she just couldn’t face the new reality without dragging me down with her.
The first time I came to school in seventh grade without braces or glasses I felt a confidence that I have seldom experienced since. As I stepped into the school in maroon pleather pants and sparkly blue eye shadow, I knew I was finally a teen.
Unfortunately, I remember the gradual realization that my metabolism had slowed down considerably post-high school (what? I can't eat pizza every night?) In graduate school, my world grew exponentially beyond the familiarity and comfort of choirs, teams, cliques and other small ponds in which I was a larger fish.
Lately, I’ve been watching as my generation slowly fills positions of power and respect. The sweet, charming girl I sat next to in Carthage Choir became Miss America. A young man I met through College Democrats of Wisconsin became the youngest member of the Wisconsin State Legislature. I see one of my former speech competitors on the nightly news and one of my colleagues from grad school is now the voice of Marketplace Morning on MPR. I’m only 26, I can’t wait to see the many ways my friends, and my generation, will continue to surprise me.
I have to say, I’m pretty excited about this transition. People give the millenials a lot of guff, but personally I think we have a lot of potential. We grew up reading Harry Potter and watching Full House, remnants of a slightly more innocent time. (Not exactly on par with the innocence of the 50s, but at least we remember life before Facebook . ) I mean, we’re not all bad. At least we know the difference between an emoji and an adjective. When we are old and crotchety we can waggle our fingers and proudly tell our grandkids that we remember landlines, dial-up internet, rolls of camera film, and of course, walking uphill to school both ways.
Many of us also entered an unwelcoming job market, teaching us perseverance, sacrifice and determination. Many of us consider climate change a scientific reality rather than a political talking point or a problem of the fictional future. Most of us think denying anyone the right to marriage is unjust and unacceptable. Most of us expect we will not enjoy the same Social Security benefits in place today. We’ve watched Congress become so polarized that they are nearly unable to pass anything of significance.
We've been watching, and we're ready for our turn to take a stab at things... I'm putting my bets on the 20 and 30 somethings; I think we might just pull through.P.S. Watch Laura's farewell as she crowns the next Miss America Saturday on ABC. Laura has accomplished great things in the past year. She is such a modest, sincere and person, the next Miss America has some very big stilettos to fill!
|Laura and Amanda in Vienna. Carthage Choir Europe Tour 2009|
(A highlight: we told someone we met that Laura was a famous opera singer... turns out that while it wasn't true at the time, it sort of came to fruition!)