Generational Self-Esteem and Emotional Health, Travel, and Being a Twin
(Author’s Note: I just basically stream of consciousness-ed three different topics, and if you want to read about one specifically, I will do my best to mark where one stops and another begins. Otherwise, shoot for the beginning, middle, or end depending on your interests, and take it from there).
(GENERATIONAL SELF-ESTEEM AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH)
I was having a conversation with my mother yesterday, and the more I talk with adults who are my teachers, my friends, some of the people at my church, and generally speaking, also the age of my parents, the more I realize how little most people of that age group (no offense) truly know about happiness over the course of ones’ lifespan and emotional health as a whole.
For whatever reason, many of the parents of people who have college-aged children (18+) and who themselves are anywhere from ~40-60 years old seem to have the lowest self-esteem of any group of people I know, regardless of their gender. And I don’t mean to sound insulting by saying that, but it is startling, as someone who has had to learn about many of these things in passing.
I am no scientist, but I do know a good amount emotions and coping with hard circumstances from my own personal experiences. The thing that shocks and scares me most when I speak with people approximately in the age range of 40-60 years old (give or take some due to personal differences and generational effects that would have altered specific realities depending on where one lies within that range), is that emotional intelligence is something that very few people truly have, and if they do, they had to fight to achieve it.
Which is utterly bizarre.
At this strange turning point in American History, for whatever reason, it feels like society is taking an enormous breath of air together. Most people the age of my parents are taking a collective moment of pause and evaluating whether or not their lives were well spent and truly provided for the things they need to pass on to their children, especially as they pass into retirement. We have enormous rates of mental health issues in people the age of my parents and people younger than them, and it’s staggering to think of how many children are routinely medicated. I was not taught very much about American history, but I have listed out the pittance I know below, and I’d like to discuss it underneath.
- Many social changes made to attitudes and then policies about child labor, the effect of work on the family, public education, public sanitation and health, and provisions for the health and safety of mothers and children, as well as a maximum daily shift for workers
- Women get the right to vote
- First Wave Feminism
- Great Depression in the 1930s
1940 (Born from 1940-1960 = Baby Boomers)
- Dust Bowl
- 1950’s-1970’s = Civil Rights Movement
- 1950’s-1960’s = Economic Prosperity in America, extreme economic growth and housing boom
1960 (Born from 1960-1980 = Generation X)
- 1972 = Title IX (no higher education/public education discrimination)
- Late 1960s-1970s = Reaction to Vietnam War, protests, Hippie Movement (high rates of drug use, unintentional pregnancy, alcoholism, debatably low work ethic)
- Second Wave Feminism
1980 (Born from 1980-2000 = Generation Y/ Millennials)
- 1980s economic recession & OPEC
2000 (Born from 2000-present day remains untitled)
- Third Wave Feminism
- 2008 = “Great Recession” (economic collapse and housing crisis)
- Job creation for college graduates in many less profitable fields remains stagnant
- Few employment opportunities for fresh college graduates
- Many graduates go overseas to travel or work
So all in all, that is basically all I know about the history of the social fabric of the country I was raised in. I could probably tell you more about specific issues or people, but as a large, overview sort of knowledge, that is what I currently have. I plan on taking a Western Civilization class and also, American History class before I graduate for obvious reasons, but given how many adults older or the same age as I are coping with severe mental health issues, I’d like to take a moment and evaluate whether or supporting notions of “whose fault” it is actually helps reinforce health.
Lately, there has been an enormous uproar by Internet peoples of all generations, heaping a lot of the blame for corrupt practices and crazy circumstances that lead to the 2008 Economic Recession on greedy Baby Boomers. I think that is unfair.
First of all, many of these arguments are coming from people aged 40 and under. Which is kind of sad. If your first choice to fix a problem is to overreact and assign blame, it will turn into a hot flaming mess no matter the scale, and certainly if society is trying to collectively analyze what the hell is going on now, or in the recent past.
The point is, many of us simply do not know how technology, changing attitudes about emotional and mental well-being, race, sex, politics on moderate issues, homosexuality (and other things that are not strictly married and heterosexual), education, and what it takes to have a successful career have affected our problem solving capabilities as a society.
Regardless of everyone’s opinions (which are just as many as the number of people in the United States), the current picture of America is not pleasant in the eyes of the world and in many if not most of our citizens. Education is becoming more of an obvious issue, and not many people care to hear dissertation-like arguments on more contentious issues, because in states like Kansas and pockets over the entire country (or entire geographic areas), poverty is a real and daunting issue. Mental health is a serious issue. Health as a whole, given how people eat and the effects of eating really bad things compounded over a life time and into your arteries as custom, is a real freaking issue. Although many people believe equal rights should be shared by all, Congress has resolved next to nothing decisive in quite some time in regards to more extreme issues, and not only are people growing wary of that, I get the feeling most people are coming back to a more moderate stance, given what is actually accomplished or improved.
Many people my age do not understand this civic duty thing, which makes sense, given we were hardly taught about it and put in a cultural vacuum that hardly accommodated for it. It bothers me severely when people claim that my generation is a group of lazy whiners that ask to be coddled, because in reality, most of us simply ask the wrong people; and then just google it. Should it be a surprise that our common knowledge reflects what we aren’t told and resort to finding on the Internet? I don’t know how this could be clearer.
But it is not right to insult our parents or people the age of our parents as the reason for our problems, or the problems of society. Unfortunately, there is a certain amount of pressure that has to become built up to really evaluate what must be done in any situation, and the world is certainly feeling that right now, as the people with the most wealth stand the highest likelihood of being able to know it and do something about sharing it, and the people with the least wealth are often happier, so long as they can get by. It is one thing to have religious and personal freedoms. It is another thing entirely to steward them well, for the edification of all people.
Instead of simply accepting things as they are and in the name of doing one’s best, many students my age have taken advantage of opportunities to travel or study abroad, especially given few people have fabulous job opportunities straight out of college. It is becoming more fashionable to take a gap year while you are in school, and to discern your character from there, returning when you can further appreciate your education, or at least when you are forced to make some concrete plans.
Despite any cynicism or misgivings people may have in regards to the real world benefits of travel while you are in your formidable years, it certainly helps people clarify things, or at the least, it certainly helps friends and relatives back home see an altered perspective of the world in their friends or children, which can be both good and bad.
When people return home, they can often have had strong experiences that change their thinking. Or they could have very mellow experiences in which they did not branch out but enjoyed the place they were in for the beauty that was in it. The process of making decisions about what you value over time shapes one’s experience and that becomes painfully obvious when a person has to explain what they did with 6 months in _______. People that study or travel abroad for shorter time periods can also have both good or bad experiences, but they still approximate a life style and cultural understanding much less, relative to their time frame. Truly, no one can be a local, but the longer you spend in a place, the more you casually gather more information about what makes it unique. Given how intentional people are when they design their goals and expectations for travel, the length of a person’s stay can be an enormous blessing, or a curse.
Regardless of how a person returns or when, being able to understand different realities from one’s own forces a person to think critically about what they value, who they are as a person, and the priorities they place in the world, which often stay pretty constant, the closer they approximate what a person genuinely cares about. People typically stick to their patterns over time if they like them or feel comfortable within them. Thus, it is no surprise that being entirely removed from things you may know can really change things.
Which is fascinating, because that seems really, really obvious. It makes me wonder what opportunities people who are approximately 40-60 years old had, at this time in their lives. Clearly, I am at the age where I wonder this naturally, having grown to the point where I am mature enough to attempt to empathize with my parents. Having a twin sister certainly helps me realize where I stand pretty quick, in terms of things we both have inherited and are working to distinguish from what is decent and what needs to change. We are fraternal twin sisters, meaning that we are essentially sisters born at the same time. It becomes very easy to determine what was environmentally present and what is just straight up things due to our different personalities, because we are both very independent and very different.
(BEING A TWIN)
Being able to have a strong litmus test to compare who you are or who you aren’t makes you mature light years ahead. I used to hate being compared to my sister when I was younger, but now it certainly makes this assuming adult responsibilities thing exponentially easier. We had the same friend group for basically all of our lives, having changed when I got depression and when we went to separate colleges. She goes to school in Florida. I stayed here, studied abroad in Chile, and came back. The ability to make independent, informed decisions has been something we both have since before we could even talk, and we are much more suited to complement one another and tell it how it is than to panic about anything or start unnecessary problems. As my parents and my brothers realize that Lauren and I are the spitting image of a lot of what happened over the years, and opposites in many things (yet fiercely similar in most other things), that kind of independent nature is becoming more and more obvious in how it defines how we communicate. Although not all of that is always good, it is always direct. And dang does that change things.
I consider all of this a blessing. It is super strange to explain, because unless you know twins who fiercely fit this profile, you will not know us, that is just how it is. You can make it cute and dress us in similar outfits, but my mom knew while we were still in the womb that was never gonna fly; she has a twin brother. To see how they have become different and the similar effects that has had on her family as they aged, given they were the youngest (like Lauren and I are younger than our brothers) has been an added bonus to being born into my occasionally crazy family. I can tell you what I think and why, not just because I will regardless, but because I have relevant and close examples. And dang, that has been a crazy blessing.
Being a twin is an identity that is hard to understand if you do not experience it personally, I think. It makes you very aware of how another person in your similar situation could or should react to the world. That is enormous. Me and my sister are both smart and competitive, and that had us running from 11 months, and speaking full sentences by 18 months, and she isn’t one to lie about that for her own ego’s sake. It’s crazy, because as much as I resented people mixing us up over time, that same kind of diplomacy and clarification skill set is the same thing I use in my life every day constantly, in order to define what is and isn’t the truth, and what I do and do not believe. That, and having to help people spell and pronounce my ambiguous last name. But still.
I think every set of twins is unique, but there is some truth to having an identical twin that is very similar to you. As an added bonus, since before I was born, my mother has been a part of the Mothers of Twins Club of Lawrence, KS. I’ve had plenty of experience with this one, and it’s absolutely true, I saw it from an early age. There may not be much known about twins and twins studies, but for real, there is no way to separate much of the effect one person has on another person’s development. Some influences cannot be traced or discerned as a cause and effect, certainly not most of the factors related to being in the same womb as someone else and living their life in most if not all enormous ways up until high school graduation. It is really weird, but I know nothing else, and like I’ve said before on this blog, I never knew what weird was until people told me. In the case of having a twin and calling it weird, we should also call it awesome, if we’re already insinuating it’s strange. It’s both.
I like knowing that me and Lauren’s children are going to be even more different than one another, or that they may even be more similar. Who the hell knows? We certainly don’t. Part of me wants twins, and yet, part of me thinks that is only because the thought of having just one baby at a time will forever seem really freaking weird unless it happens to me personally. Things come in twos. That is just how I see things now.
I like it though. It calms be down to know that I have my sister, despite what she says, in the event of any serious problem. It is an unspoken and assumed thing that if something were to ever happen to her kids or mine (eventually), the other person would be there. It is an unspoken and assumed thing that you share your food, unless you paid for it and in that case, only out of the mercy of your heart. It is an unspoken and assumed thing that when my mother and sister and I go to the movie theater, I hold the popcorn, my straw is literally the shortest, my sister’s is in the middle, and my mother’s is the tallest, and we drink from the same Large sized Pepsi, passing the same candy back and forth, like a well-oiled and probably extremely externally strange machine. I sit in the middle. Lauren picks out the seats. My mom tries to talk right up until the movie starts. I laugh at inappropriate times and Lauren tells me to shut up. This is a routine now, and it pretty much works, at least until we bring home boyfriends and what not. Lauren has a boyfriend. That probably makes me a little crazier, truth be told. Whatever. There will be other milestones I win. In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy the freaking movies and manage to figure out whose straw is whose. I have yet to do that successfully through an entire movie, and it has always been that way. And other than that, nothing is really so different.