COVID-19: Defining a Generation

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It’s no secret that the recent pandemic sweeping the globe, known as COVID-19, has laid damage to affected communities in its short tenure. If you turn on any given news outlet, you witness coverage related to infection, business closings, forceful legislation, the tension between political parties, and communities struggling to get their needs met. In light of this global crisis, we have begun what is in our human nature to do to cope – create solutions. You’ve heard the terms “quarantine”, “social distancing”, and “vulnerable communities” used often through casual conversation and media coverage in defining what feels like solutions within our power. However, within this same need to create solutions, we find ourselves assigning blame, comparing wisdom, and placing judgment on those perceived to not be doing “enough”. 

A divide is also recognized among age gaps, creating intergenerational blame in where we allocate attention – Is the battle to save the economy? Prevent overwhelming the healthcare system? Ensure students are completing and being celebrated for milestones? We have all undoubtedly considered each of these variables as we struggle to make sense of what feels like a temporary new reality. While the nation collectively feels the restraint of social distancing through shifts to online platforms, let us take a still of this moment in history so that we may examine the effects of displacing and delaying celebrations, achievements, and trips for a generation excited for the future.

The Irony of Instant Gratification

Millennials and Generation Z alike are generations that have grown up in the age of the computer and advanced technology. While more present in the later generation, compromised of those under the age of 23, there has been an adaptation of behaviors and beliefs about success that is credited through the accessibility of information and connection. In addition to accessibility, millennials (who range from age 23-38) began to enter vocational work at the height of an economic recession in the United States and arguably exhibiting a greater need for higher education in order to stay competitive. The development of achievement patterns is a stark difference to traditional roles made popular by those in the Baby Boomer and Generation X eras. When we combine accessibility and education, we recognize that a large part of the identities of younger generations is precedented by success through events such as graduations, intellectual achievement, and celebratory traveling – all of which have been canceled due to social distancing restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Social media and technological communities have the ability to instantly gratify a thirst for information or education, provide outlets for interpersonal connection, and satisfy needs for personal growth.  Generations experiencing achievement are now forced to halt their ideas of recognition for accomplishment due to delayed commencements or other celebrations, likely leaving many feeling unmotivated, disappointed, anxious, and/or depressed. Previous generations who navigated childhood and adolescence without the support of social technology are less likely to understand the true value of status recognition in the same way Millennials or Generation Z’ers might, which continues to create divides by the aforementioned blame, judgment, and criticism or experiences we do not understand. 

Creating Solutions Through Creating Support

The weight of intergenerational blame is heavy, and something that existed long before our present circumstances surrounding COVID-19. In a time where we are all learning to adapt to digital circumstances and uncertainty, the best thing we can do is to support one another. Here are just a few ways to develop understanding and love for each other in times of blame:

  • Practice empathy.

Use loving-kindness and encouraging words – acknowledge yours and others’ internal blame or judgment of another by remembering that it often comes out of fear or perceived powerlessness. 

  • Provide tangible support.

Are you a whiz at virtual meeting technology? Are you an expert communicator? Are you good at finding bargains or finding supplies? Use your skills to your advantage to provide information and help to others, and the goodness will return to you. In conjunction with providing support, seek out support those familiar with resources for mental health counseling, financial assistance, or supplies.

  • Identify your strengths.

In a time where you are disappointed by canceled plans and celebrations, how are you strong in coping with adversity? Identify ways you’ve dealt with times of unpredictability in the past and use those to guide your thoughts and intentions.

  • Maintain a network of supportive peers.

Millennial and Generation Z natives are keen on social networking and establishing social connections. Identify your supportive others and schedule times to ventilate frustrations, play games, infuse laughter, and find other avenues of celebrating achievement (e.g. virtual ceremonies, graduation parties, etc.).

  • Remember that we are all doing our best.

Eventually, this event will come to an end — continue to make plans because you are worth celebrating, even if it comes later. At the end of the day, remember that you are enough solely based on your ability to survive. Take time to prioritize yourself and your mental health, because that is the key to resilience.

If you or someone you know is struggling with life transitions and looking for support, find us at our website to schedule an individual therapy appointment.

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