I'm Not a Special Snowflake. I'm a Snow Fort
Our guest this week offers inspiring encouragement for her fellow Millennials in need of a confidence boost, or simply gearing up to face down life's challenges. We're pleased to extend this powerful pep-talk on behalf of Caela Provost, North American Officer and U.S. Representative for University College Cork in Ireland.
There’s a belief among many individuals in today’s society that the current group of young adults entering the workforce can generally be described as one or more of the following:
• Unprepared for the “real world”
• Lacking self-reliance
• Resistant to hard work
We’re the generation of participation trophies, “Way to go!” stickers, and 17th place ribbons (all of which I have always hated, by the way). We’re also the generation of the Dewey Decimal system AND online dictionaries, of hide-and-go-seek AND Sega Genesis, of dial-up AND wireless, of cursive writing AND Microsoft Word.
We’re team players.
We’re the most accepting generation the world has ever known.
We’re internationally connected.
We’re technology zealots.
We’re the Millennials…and I, Caela Provost, am proud to be one.
When I was approached to write a guest piece for this blog with a letter of advice for younger students, job seekers, and workers, I was originally unsure of how to frame my composition. After all, I’ve read countless blogs which speak to what the writer would have done differently, what the writer would have appreciated more, advice from the writer to the readers, and yet none of these seemed to truly try to understand the reader. So, that’s what this letter is going to try to do- understand. Empathize. Relate. I may not have the answers, but I have certainly fallen down on my face (literally and figuratively…I’m quite the klutz) enough times to give some semblance of guidance. After all, how boring and unexceptional would I be if I had never failed? Give me malfunctions over monotony any day, but I digress.
Without further ado, a letter from yours truly. My only wish was that it was handwritten…
Dear slightly confused (and potentially perturbed about the economy) Millennial,
If you’re reading this piece right now, my guess is that you’re probably searching for some type of answer to a dilemma, or reassurance that everything is going to fall into place exactly as planned. Since I’m neither omniscient, nor omnipotent I can’t give you that one piece of golden advice you need to succeed, because there isn’t one. I can’t tell you that all of your plans will line up perfectly, because they won’t. I can’t tell you that you’re never going to fail, because you will. I can’t tell you that you won’t struggle, because some days will truly be “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days”.
I CAN tell you this:
• Your problems will give you strength
• Your missteps will give you the ability to adapt
• Your botched plans will lead you to think creatively about new ways to accomplish goals
• Your failures will be beautiful examples of how human you are
• Your struggles will reveal your tenacity and inner-power
• Your scrapes, bruises, and scars will remind you of your fortitude
Life will teach you to adapt, to be resilient, to be creative, and to be persistent.
Millennials, you are not the sum total of our world’s stereotypical views of you, and you should never stop fighting to show others your value. This said, you are also not infallible, perfect, or deserving of everything simply because you exist. As a young woman with both a MA and a BA in English, from a working class family from Winchendon, Massachusetts, I can certainly tell you that I didn’t end up serving as the North American Officer and United States Representative for University College Cork (Ireland) by believing I was/am a “special snowflake”. I know that I am merely one of many intelligent, driven, dedicated people in the world. I know that the world owes me nothing, but I know that I owe the world everything. I know that I have to fight for every opportunity that I desire. I know that serving others is just as important as thinking of myself. I know that successful people are those who never give up. I know that failing is not only okay, but also vital for growth. I know that nothing worth having in this life comes without sacrifice, perseverance, and drive.
So, I tell you this now. I am on a successful path because I’m not a special snowflake…
I AM A SNOW FORT.
I’ve worked to build my life, to create my destiny, adapt to my environment, and to fail with grace and aplomb in order to find my niche. Life, it turns out, doesn’t give out participation ribbons, so you’re better off finding your strengths and weakness, and bowing out gracefully from activities that might not be your forte. (Trust me when I say that my high school football team dodged a bullet when I decided not to try out for the cheerleading squad. One does not simply yell at the team from the sidelines like a coach while maintaining pep and cheeriness. Marching band and field hockey were clearly better choices for me.)
Nothing in my life has turned out exactly as I planned, and I can’t begin to describe to you how happy I am that it hasn’t. Life isn’t meant to be planned, predicted, or perfect.
Life is eating too much maple sugar candy in Saint Albans, Vermont and learning that perhaps you may not have enjoyed a trip to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory as much as you thought you might.
Life is a trip with your church to build houses in Antigua, Guatemala and seeing true poverty, and true generosity, for the first time.
Life is finishing a MA in English thesis in the wee hours of the night, after a full day of bottom-washing boats at West Alton Marina.
Life is suffering from hip paralysis because of a reaction to a vaccine, and being stubborn enough to learn to walk, bike, and run again.
Life is going to the Aran Islands for the first time, and finding a sense of peace within yourself that was lacking for as long as you could remember.
Life is a journey, and it’s one hell of a ride.
Enjoy, breathe, and let go…and remember, you are more than just a snowflake.
From one snow fort to all of you others, I wish you all lives filled with adventure,
This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.