I have joined the “ME generation.”
I know that phrase is generally used to describe so-called Millennials — people now in their 20’s. Samantha Raphelson, in her piece for the NPR New Boom series, cited them as “self-absorbed, self-centered, selfie-snapping-20-somethings.”
Today’s 20-somethings are just stepping into adulthood. They may not have steady jobs. They sometimes seem uncaring in their independent and individualistic ways. Many of them don’t have families to support yet and they have few constraints on their time.
Baby boomers like me often look askance at them. “When I was that age, I was already married and working and…” Some people have wondered publicly what will become of the world when this free spirited group comes into power.
But I’ve come to understand that the characteristics of a group are often more a reflection of the circumstances than the inherent qualities of the people in the group.
Why am I thinking about this now? Because my circumstances have changed.
Entering a Second “Me” Phase of Life
As of this week, I find myself back once again with a sense that the focus is me — just like the Millennials, that younger “me generation.” I was like that before I got married and had kids, and now, late in life, here I am again.
What’s changed? Our cat died.
Sweet Hairy Potter met his end last week. He was old and creaky and full of arthritis. He no longer liked being petted and he had stopped sleeping with us on our bed.
Just like old (really old) people, Hairy Potter kept more and more to himself. He was ready to go. And so, last week, we had him put to sleep.
Yes, it was sad. And when he’s not at the door to greet me, I miss him terribly. But more striking than being sad, is the sense that the passing of Hairy Potter, puts me (and my husband, Tyko) into a second “Me” phase of our lives.
We have no aging parents to care for. No growing children who depend on us. Few constraints on our time. And now, no pets — just us.
Without our last cat to care for, a sense of freedom blew through our apartment.
We have the freedom to do what we wish without worrying about anyone else.
But this time, in our later years, we no longer feel a bit lost, wondering what life will bring. We no longer worry about whether we are good enough. That doesn’t seem to matter any more.
Instead, we are full of ideas and energy and a certain acceptance that whoever we are is just fine. And that acceptance makes this round of “Me-ness” so much easier.
We are free to come and go as we please.
Free to do the things that interest us.
Free to strive to master new skills, or not.
We are even free to die… yes, that too.
I am confident that as the Millennials grow a bit older and take on greater responsibilities they, too, will be looked upon as thoughtful and caring people. In fact, they’re already quite generous with their time and money, offering it more freely than past generations.
If they are fortunate, perhaps when Millenials reach their senior years, like me, they will have another chance of entering a second “me” phase of life. It’s the icing on the cake this time around.
How “Me” are You?
Think about the phase of life you are in today. How does it differ from earlier phases? Has your character changed? Or is it just your circumstances that have given wing to other parts of you? Find a few minutes to have a conversation about your stage of life with a friend or partner, or even yourself with a little quiet introspection.
And, as always, I’m tickled when I hear from you, either in the comments below or on Facebook! Please share your experience as a member of the “me generation.”