The Eskimo languages have over 50 different words relating to the English concept of “snow” and many of them came to mind this month. February has been the snowiest month on record for much of the east coast – and the Midwest and South haven’t been all that snow-free either. I’ve been in Chicago visiting my grandkids for the week and have tramped in it, through it, and around it.
I’ve enjoyed the beauty and tranquility of a clear, white morning, watching a bright red Cardinal flitting from branch to branch, searching for a morsel to eat. I’ve watched in awe as the beautiful flakes gently fell, landing in my open mouth. I’ve joined my grandsons on a crisp, cold afternoon at the one hill in the neighborhood, watching as they enjoyed sledding down at breakneck speed. And I’ve also navigated my way through the slosh, hoping to keep my boots somewhat clean.
As I watched the new snow falling the morning we left, each beautiful flake exactly like no other one, I thought about how they mirrored the Millennials. Born between 1980 and 2000, they are the largest generation in history, with over 80 million in the United States alone. They can be hard to categorize, with even more words describing them than those that the Eskimos use for snow. Each Millennial is unique, yet pundits have identified some trends among them.
Millennials have been described as the “me, me, me” generation, with a sense of entitlement and high levels of narcissism. But they are also more likely than others to be driven by a strong sense of community and global involvement. Some are thought of as passive while others lead the way in innovation, especially in the digital arena. They maintain a great degree of closeness with their parents, which can lead to either a richer relationship or delayed adulthood. They face a vulnerable financial future with fewer job opportunities and high student loans yet they maintain an optimistic attitude.
Let’s hope that same positive attitude can bolster those of you dealing with the dangers and discomfort of the heavy snow – travel disruptions, health issues, economic concerns. Then, if you begin to fall into the trap of stereotyping Millennials, just remember the fragile snowflake, its special qualities and the differences making up the combined white blanketing the ground. They deserve the same attention to detail that the Eskimos give to snow!