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Being Millennial by Charlie Siddick

I am a world citizen. All human history is mine. My roots cover the earth. I believe we should know each other. After all, our lives are all connected. Jim Haynes, Inviting the World to Dinner.

Charlie SiddickName: Charlie Siddick

Born: 02/03/1994 in North West London
Education: sixth form, UCS. BA from the Courtauld Institute of Art
Nationality: British mother and Jamaican/British mix father.
Work: model since 2010, creative director of clothing company Amarcord
Hopes for the future: to continue to work with inspiring creatives and help make the world a better place.

I am a millennial– a part of ‘Generation Y’.

Historians Neil Howe and William Strauss coined the term in 1991, and it roughly encompasses anyone born post-1980, generally acknowledged to be the children of the post-WW2 ‘baby boomers’.

I don’t know if it’s a term I’d easily identify with.

We’re unwittingly grouped and defined as a collective entity; a subgroup of society supposedly wanting the same things and possessing the same inflated sense of entitlement and obsession with self-worth.

Howe and Strauss determined what appeared to be unique about our generation such as being raised with more structure and protection in comparison to our preceding Gen X Baby Boom parents.

Apparently, we tend to shy away from our ascribed millennial title; it’s seen as a negative personality trait, encompassing the social-media-driven, narcissistic, aesthetically obsessed, shallow, Kardashian worshipping notions of modern living.

Such notions, I can’t fully relate to, or maybe I just don’t want to accept such obvious deficiencies within myself. And indeed my defensiveness may well be a product of my cultural conditioning, as Howe observed:

“One person’s narcissism is another person’s healthy self-esteem.”

Charlie at 4 on hols in Italy

Charlie at 4 on hols in Italy

On that note-back to me.

I am the privileged daughter of middle-class parents, who made their fortune in the financial sector.

Both started off from working class backgrounds and became shining examples of those success stories I associate with their generation, enjoying the enormous economic prosperity of the 1980s, greater job security, upward social mobility, and easier career ascension.

The recession of the late-1980s didn’t hit millennials too hard, and for me, this is where this (false) sense of security and stability that Howe and Strauss refer to derives from.

Not for one second am I saying it was ‘easy’ for them, just that many in my generation feel as if the odds are stacked against us, rather than in our favour (another millennial trait?) though I think all younger generations feel this way.

Mum and I.

Mum and I.

So before you think I’m a moaning millennial, let me elaborate. For my parent’s generation, a university degree or any further education was generally considered to be a major means of differentiation within the job market, and committing to further education via your specialist subject meant that you stood a decent chance of garnering career security.

How has this changed for millennials?

Well, we are the most overeducated young adults in history in a climate of chronic unemployment and soaring living costs on a level previous generations have never seen.

The positive thing about this scenario is the idea that we are no longer looking at doing one thing forever and like most of my friends, I don’t define myself by a single career objective.

I have multiple jobs and projects, and if I’m not busy it feels as if I’m not doing enough or reaching my full potential which isn’t so positive. We’re constantly comparing our endeavors against one another, and a lot of the time, I feel as if I’m falling short or spreading myself too thinly. Which I suppose is why it’s unsurprising that us millennials are the most depressed young people the world has seen, with the highest suicide rates and cases of mental illness on record.

Which I suppose is why it’s unsurprising that us millennials are the most depressed young people that the modern world has known, with the highest suicide rates and cases of mental illness on record.

In an impressively accurate prediction by Kylie Jenner, 2016 was to be the year my generation began ‘realizing stuff’. Worldwide we saw events that disrupted our sense of civil liberty and freedom, the blow of Brexit hit my generation hard, and for a time it felt as if our future and our children’s futures were to be irreparably jeopardised.

kylie jenner

For me, during the aftermath, daily life took on a distasteful and irresolute haze. Many took to Facebook or Instagram to vent, and logging on and checking into social media felt like you’d wandered into the midst of a gory battleground, suddenly people had exposed their true ‘self’ and cyber rants translated into fractured ‘real-life’ relationships.

For millennials, so much of life is exaggerated for better and worse via the net.

Fast-forward to Trump’s shock election ‘win’. I felt social media activism to be pretty redundant in the grand scheme of things because it’s not enough to just say you’re angry- you have to show it.

The tyrant who appeared to enjoy the notion of social separatism was welcomed into office with a major show of unity, love and togetherness.

Change!

On the 21st of January, the Women’s March became the largest civil rights protest in modern history, and those who took part were of diverse age groups, gender and social strata, but at the helm of the organisation was Generation Y-millennials!

Previously seen to be politically apathetic, we’re now enlivened and enraged. The issue of women’s rights- a historically painful trajectory, which has taken time and perseverance, is under threat and we’re not standing for it.

The current atmosphere of political separatism and nationalism that has heightened sexism, racism, xenophobia and homophobia is truly terrifying to behold, key tenets that were fought for us, by previous generations.

I grew up hearing stories from my dad’s past, repulsive racist incidents that he encountered growing up as a mixed-heritage kid in King’s Cross during the 60s, and worse when he travelled to Atlanta during the grips of the black civil rights movement.

Charlie's Dad photographd by Charlie.

Charlie’s Dad photographd by Charlie.

They make my heart ache and my stomach sick, and whilst they’re ingrained within my personal heritage and sense of self, they can still feel distant and detached. It wasn’t now.

 

That’s where this perception of political apathy derives from I think, we took such basic civil liberties for granted, ‘civil rights movements’ appeared to be firmly entrenched in historical rhetoric, rather than an urgent necessity for millennial living.

In these dark and confusing times, we need to make the effort to try and understand one another’s opinions, celebrate our similarities and differences as indices of our human nature.

I don’t believe social media encourages such conversations but instead engenders separatism.

It’s time to organise and focus our rage via avenues that produce positive action.

I don’t believe social media encourages such conversations but instead engenders separatism. It’s time to organise and focus our rage via avenues that produce positive action.

We millennials are a product of the internet, in the sense that we can’t even contemplate life without it, but it’s time to stop hiding behind a screen and begin connecting on a real, human level, if we can understand one others’ opinions and belief systems, then surely, change is just around the corner?

Charlie Siddick selfieCharlie Siddick selfie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Follow Charlie on Instagram

Check out the beautifully embroidered Ts on Amarcord’s website

 

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