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“If you’re happy when you open your eyes in the morning, then you’re doing the right thing”

The wise words from my younger cousin, the millennial, the one that tried going to college, thought it was silly, and moved next door to the community college for the same education while she can work at the same time and not rack up a ton of debt. She’s learning to live on her own with more responsibilities earlier than I ever did, and then she shoots texts like that to me in the middle of the day while we chat about life decisions and what the hell is going on as we keep growing up – and I remember holding her for the first time right after she was born.

“No one my age is going to have kids till at least 30,” she tells me, as I talk about how crazy how US and Italian societies differ when talking about the right age to start a family. I curiously asked her why – guessing the two answers I’ve heard from friends over the years – can no one afford it or are some people just not wanting to because they don’t have to have children?

“Scared” she replied, “people are scared. Everyone’s focused on whether or not they want to bring a kid into all this, you know? They don’t want to perpetuate the horribleness haha. And none of us have the money either.” I’ve thought about it too of course, beyond our personal problems with immigration, the world isn’t looking too peachy lately. Can we really promise a better future for our kids?

“If you’re happy when you open your eyes in the morning, then you’re doing the right thing,” she said. This girl loves her job already and is so excited to be a nurse and help care for others. What I see my and the following generation doing is putting ourselves first, yes, but it means putting humans first, putting happiness first, and believing we can all have it.

I was watching something earlier that was explaining Buddhism and how it isn’t a religion that takes away suffering, it’s all about learning to accept that suffering is in everything and learn to still wake up happy.

My generation didn’t do that because we were the ones to watch everyone in the entire world freak the f out when they realized they were ruining everything, and so we learned to freak out too because we followed right along with the rest. But these new kiddos, they’re thinking things and making decisions and growing up out of “the plan” that has kept Americans in line for decades: go to school, go to college, get a job, start a family.

“We’re doing things differently because your generation warned us!,” she said. And sure there are still thousands of students doing the plan and racking up debt, but it’s a start that going to community college is actually looked at as a good thing now. All I can say is that this next election is going to be an extremely interesting one, and the next few decades with these kids coming into the workforce are going to rewrite history a bit.

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