Guest Opinion: Millennial Coming of age

Many of us rang in the New Year with open arms, eager to say goodbye to the past year of political turmoil, economic lows and celebrity scandal. Though 2009 was a rough year for America, we weren’t just bidding adieu to the past year, but rather a whole decade.

Many of us rang in the New Year with open arms, eager to say goodbye to the past year of political turmoil, economic lows and celebrity scandal. Though 2009 was a rough year for America, we weren’t just bidding adieu to the past year, but rather a whole decade.

So even if you don’t remember actually ringing in the New Year this year, the past decade is the only decade that most of the Millennial Generation can recall with clarity. As most of us college students are now in our early twenties, we remember the 1990s as a blur of elementary school, Pokémon cards and cheesy boy bands.

The past decade, however, is when we grew up. We met friends that we’ll have for life, worked our first job and graduated high school. We bought our first car, got our first kiss and started our first day of college. Our age group has experienced many firsts in the past 10 years, and because of such has grown closer as a generation.

The events of Sept. 11 brought us our first national tragedy in memory. Though most of us were only in middle school at the time, we can still remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. This national disaster changed the course of the decade, and in one way or another, changed each of our lives.

Our country entered a war during a time in our lives when most of us couldn’t comprehend what a war even was. For the past eight years our Nightly News featured some sort of death count or war update. Eventually, these tragic figures on the television screen became just another number.

As we’ve entered into young adulthood, we’ve begun to understand the heartbreak behind the numbers and death counts. As we’ve grown up many of our friends and peers have gone to defend our country, and some may have added to the growing number on the television screen. Growing up with conflicts oversees affected our families, our education and ultimately each one of us.

Even though this past decade has been home to many sad stories, we’ve had our fair share of joy, new experiences and downright weirdness.

Our generation bore witness to many political firsts in our nation. We watched as the first woman, Mormon and African-American ran for president. We elected our first black president and had our first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice join the Court. Different colors and genders have brought diversity and controversy to America’s political system, a trend that looks to continue into the next decade.

In the early 2000s our country was captivated with the idea of a quick, easy meal. So was the time of Pop-Tarts, microwavable dinners and instant anything. We became so obsessed with the notion of eating quickly that we forgot to look at what we were actually consuming. Our fast and furious eating habits morphed us into a nation where 65 percent of us are overweight or obese.

As we welcome a new decade, fast food is on the outs and organic, wholesome foods are in. America is slowly trying to rewind to times when food was simple and grown locally. Whether are not Americans can take the time out of their busy lives to actually produce a meal—let alone grow a garden—remains to be seen, but we can cross our fingers.

One thing that hasn’t changed during the past decade is the celebrity drama. Secrets and scandals continued to keep Hollywood the glitzy soap opera that it is. Sure, we saw new faces—Miley Cyrus, anyone?—but the general hubbub of who cheated on whom and the outlandish lifestyles of the rich and famous remained comfortingly similar.

The past ten years did bring some juicy gossip, however, and maybe even taught us lowly middle-class folks a thing or two. For example, if your husband spontaneously decides to jet off to the Appalachians for a “hiking trip,” maybe double check that he doesn’t have an Argentine mistress. The same goes if your husband says he’ll be out late “golfing.”

Halfway through the decade we saw Hollywood’s golden couple, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston, split. Calling off a marriage after an impressive seven years – practically a lifetime in Tinsel Town—Brad joined the globe-trotting vixen, Angelina Jolie. The couple started an adoption trend with their six—or is it seven? I’ve lost count—multiracial children.

Besides Brangelina and Britney Spears, new stars like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie joined the scene, making us question what they’re actually famous for. The decade saw many great entertainers, like Michael Jackson and Christopher Reeves, pass on.

The past decade has been a whirlwind of politics, fads and economic uncertainty. Through the ups and the downs, I like to think that our generation has grown closer. As we enter the 2010s (or whatever we decide to call this next decade) we’re leaving our childhood and entering adulthood. In the next ten years many of us will graduate college, look for our first “real world” job and maybe even get married. If that isn’t enough to keep you entertained, we’ll always have Hollywood. After all, who knows what Tom Cruise is going to do next?

*This article was originally published in the Daily Barometer and is printed here in its original form.