A note from a Zennial: Breaking generation stereotypes with activism

You know the phrase ‘being stuck between a rock and a hard place’? As a so-called “Zennial,” that’s where my generation lives. It’s uncomfortable, it’s awkward – but here we are. Ready to change the world.

So, what the hell is a “Zennial”?

Zennials are those born in the micro-generation between around 1993 and 1998 – in between Millennials and Generation Z. Some of us remember 9/11, others don’t – but we were raised with the consequences of our changed society afterwards.

We grew up with technology, which surged forward while we were in elementary school. Scooters and books outlined our childhood rather than iPads and cellphones, but the lucky few of us were still given portable DVD players and Gameboys.

Zennials don’t always know exactly where we stand. We feel stuck between two generalizations:
• On one side, we’re considered lazy. We don’t want to work in the real world, our shelves are lined with participation trophies and “activism” is a dirty word.
• On the other side, we’re the new world savior. We work hard with the technology that’s native to our lives and find that activism is the only way we know how to change the political and economic world.

This dichotomy is the life of a Zennial. My life. How can we save the world with fiery activism and technology while also being too lazy to amount to much of anything?

Activists of all generations in action

It was thrilling to march with Houstonians of all ages during March For Our Lives Houston. Adults, teenagers, babies, those in their 20s like me – we were all there for mission: to decrease violence in the country, specifically schools.

The rally was exceptionally well organized with teenagers stepping up to the plate and organizing everything from bathroom logistics to police presence to the march route to voter registration booth to the key speakers – including Mayor Sylvester Turner and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

These teenagers went above and beyond what I could’ve accomplished at 17. Lazy, complacent? Not THESE teenagers. With the right attitude, we all can and will take action – Millennials and Generation Z together.

However, there is still that virtual shoulder shrug with an air of “What can they really do?” from those out of the know and out of touch with our generations. It’s infuriating to see those stigmas being applied again – even when people are taking action. Sometimes, it feels like no matter what I try to do – call my representatives, march for a cause – no one sees those actions as useful because they don’t change things on the level they need to be changed.

>> Marching doesn’t help because we’re just “actors” paid to make drama about a “non-issue.”

>> Calling representatives doesn’t help because (in the case of Ted Cruz and John Cornyn) they don’t listen and rarely change their minds.

In the eyes of those outside of our two generations, I’m still perceived as lazy when I’m trying to change things because what I’m doing “doesn’t work”. I hate this rock and a hard place that Zennial positioning puts me in.

How does an in-between Zennial generation make an impact?

Simple. You take a breath – and you just keep moving. You stop caring about what others are saying about you and you start caring about the movement you’re making. Be yourself. Do your own thing. Vote (in EVERY election) for what and whom you believe in and stick with it. Stand up for your values and beliefs. And never get shoved in a diminutive generationally-defined rock and a hard place.

Activism doesn’t have to mean screaming at the top of your lungs. It can also mean a soft, constant whisper. As long as you continue to stand up for what you believe in – despite the generalizations being thrown at you – you’re an activist. And THAT is ageless, timeless and powerful – just like you.