A Freedom Check for Our Fellow Millennials

July 3, 2018

July 4th is tomorrow, which means that if you’re creeping into your 30s like some of us over here, you’re probably already preparing for the inevitable hangover and sunburn come Thursday morning. But what a small price to pay for the freedom we get to celebrate this Independence Day...and all summer long, for that matter. After all, as kids, summer was a glorious reprieve from the drudgery of homework, upperclassmen bullying, and really anything related to childhood responsibility (which, let’s be honest, was hardly anything to begin with.) As adults, sleeping in for three months straight isn’t an option anymore (at least not for most of us, but we’ll get to that), but summer is still a symbolic reminder of what free time really implies—though we forget its context far too easily.

What do you think when you think of freedom? The word “freedom” has, in some ways, seemed to become synonymous with guns, flags, land, and many other divisive topics. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but we do wish we could take the connotation of the word “freedom” back to its broader contextual roots; sometimes if feels like our generation needs a reminder of what the original definition of freedom in America means. 

We write this blog to inspire some thoughtful conversation, action, and LOLs among people of a certain age. Some of our readers graduated not too long ago. Some have been adulting for quite some time, and are probably doing pretty well (others maybe not so much). But readers and writers alike all come from the millennial or post-Internet generation—a generation of kids subject to an onslaught of jokes and rips about our collective inability to replicate the behavior of our parents. Take a short trip down the glass-half-empty road of Reddit’s popular r/lostgeneration subreddit, and you’ll find plenty of evidence supporting its namesake. The top posts all support the narrative that college debt is an impossible hurdle, American exceptionalism has stunted a whole generation’s self-worth, etc. Aside from a few dark comedy headlines about how our generation’s taste buds are killing American mainstays like Applebee’s, the whole subreddit feels pretty grim and helpless.

“But wait, why did you just go on a tangent about an obscure subreddit when this blog is supposed to be about freedom? Talk to me more about hotdogs and fireworks!”

We’re glad you asked. First, to address your last point, hot dogs and fireworks are awesome—but, they’re a limited subject matter, so we’ll just end that discussion right here. Second, we think it’s time for our generation to embrace a different definition of the word “freedom,” and that’s freedom from the dogmas of generations before us (cue the Braveheart soundtrack).

At this point in your life, you’re probably seeing friends get married and buy houses. However, you have single (and coupled) friends renting, too. Maybe some friends are getting rich at their boring 9-to-5s. Others are starting businesses and going broke on their 8-to-2am-ers. You know people living their lives in a variety of seemingly unconventional ways that buck the expectations of our parents’ generation—and it’s all totally fine. See for us, freedom is about expectation dexterity. It’s about realizing that the silver bullets for adulthood that applied to our parents don’t necessarily apply to us—and we need to stop feeling bad that they don’t.

Remember that little paragraph about childhood summers a few hundred words ago? The reason those Julys were so precious is because they were about mental freedom—not the "traditional" freedoms we often associate with the American story. This is the same brand of freedom that we Internet kids need to hold sacred in our own minds. It’s a freedom to go to a music festival and spend two days hungover instead of going to work. It’s the freedom to decide that you’d rather quit your job and travel to Japan than live the cookie-cutter-suburban lifestyle. It’s the freedom to be happy living a life that your parents might not understand—and that’s OK. We have the freedom to do literally whatever we like, and it’s up to each of us to have the mental fortitude to remember that—all summer (and all year) long.