There is a common feeling most of us experience transitioning from one stage in our academic career to the next best described as a falling from familiarity, from status prestige respect etc. (see Coldplay- Viva La Vida).
One year you are in eighth grade, skipping lunch lines and social studies class and the next year you are thrown into a completely new environment, overwhelmed by the sheer stature of upperclassman.The transition into college, although considerably less vicious, still will find you surreptitiously clutching a campus map and getting teased for wearing your lanyard for at least the first month.
These rites of passage remain renowned periods of growth in an adolescent’s life. This is the time where one’s arrogance is banished and replaced with modesty, a period where one reaffirms their mortality and becomes reacquainted with their shortcomings. Although many associate these transitions with negative feelings, such as anxiety, they must remember this period is neither chronic nor life threatening. In fact, these passages prove the most healthy and beneficial.
Recently, my own self-esteem-sustained hot air balloon was shot down with more than one humility bullet. As a rising senior in my undergraduate studies, awards and certificates have validated me. However, all my past achievements failed to prepare me for my summer of interning in the District.
My very first day on the job, the intern supervisor advised me to arrive promptly at ten. Living on the outskirts of DC for the second sequential summer, I anticipated the commute. I assumed heavy traffic, so I left an hour and a half early. I quickly learned my expertise on the daily commute was nothing short of superficial. I failed to take into account how quickly parking garages fill, and I ended up circling three metro stops before finding a space. On the metro, I frantically dialed my supervisor to inform him of my situation. I was already a half hour late for my first day on the job, off to a great start. My ego was too sore to ask anyone for directions to my new office. Instead, I pulled up my dial-up speed map app on my phone coming out of the metro, delaying myself an additional ten minutes.
This new kind of reality did not cease on the first day; the entire summer has been a series of learning experiences. Just the other week I attended a networking event anticipating to be taken seriously. Business cards in hand, I confidently struck up a conversation with a senior-level executive to have her literally turn her back to me mid-conversation; a lesson that I clearly was not as important to others as I thought myself.
Ironically, my pride was even bruised physically. During an especially impressive heat wave around Independence Day, I was taken to the ER and informed I needed to take better care of myself in order to avoid overexertion. This was a new blow to me who, like most young adults, had written off my body as invulnerable.
Through this self-diagnosed “rite of passage”, I have taken a valuable lesson that I’d like to share with Millennials going through similar situations. It has been said that life is a life-long lesson in humility. Unfortunately, I believe most of our generation neglects this lesson. Like myself, many Millennials missed the information session that outlines the transition from college to the “real world”. Dare I say this serves as an explanation for why the word “entitled” precedes us? To avoid choking while swallowing your pride, I recommend fully embracing this period.
I remember transitioning into high school and feeling awkward in my own skin, and I remember entering college and struggling to adjust to more rigorous course work. As with our transition into high school and college, this too will pass. Accept your missteps and learn from your mistakes. How you grow during this period will have a dramatic impact on your future. When faced with challenges, one’s true character is exposed- and I, for one, have full faith in Millennials’ character.