As I was logging into my Yahoo account to catch up on some emails this morning, I was sucked in to this article about the naming of generations. In particular, they were discussing the changing of when exactly the cut off to Generation X started, and where Millennials began.
This has always been a murky subject to try and figure out, since it seems like everyone and their mother had their own definition of what a “Millennial” actually was. But this new article was making a definitive statement on the subject.
Millennials are born in 1981 and later!
And for no reason whatsoever, my heart filled with joy…I was no longer considered a Millennial.
You see, my birth year is 1980, so people my age are often lumped into several different generational groups.
Millennial, Generation X, Xennial, The Oregon Trail Generation…the list goes on and on.
Now, there is nothing at all wrong with being a Millennial, they just happen to be the most picked on generation of our time. This poor group of people has been blamed for just about every problem in America today.
Bad job market? Millennials
Huge student debt? Millennials
Empty churches? Millennials
Bad marriage? Millennials
Applebee’s profits dropping? Millennials
They just can’t win.
What does any of this have to do with van dwelling? Well, like most things blamed on Millennials, the glorification of being homeless by choice seems to be rubbing the old school “Van Lifers” the wrong way. You see, before any of these free spirited young kids were buying vans, it was the 60s hippies. They were the ones who took living in a van full time and turned it into a viable option.
With their homemade campers and anti establishment attitudes, they were the true pioneers of the movement.
The Instagram Generation
Whats happening now is that some van dwellers feel that their life style has been appropriated by the Instagram crowd to create a brand. And come to think of it, they might be right. When you think of van life, you think of some gorgeous young woman with perfect hair and makeup sitting by the open door of her van looking wistfully into the distance. Maybe her boyfriend is in the background doing yoga while his surf board lay beside him.
They most likely have a dog in their diy van conversion and are graphic designers pulling in 150k a year while also monetizing their Youtube page to pay for “equipment”.
For the majority of us, we are not that cool. We live in humble vans that have what we need, and nothing more. We live normal lives, work regular jobs, and probably don’t understand how SEO works (I know I sure as hell don’t).
Most of us just did it because the American dream died. Not only do we like freedom and want to travel to that picturesque Instagram location, we also cant afford that normal life our parents had.
When I was 18, I got my first apartment. I worked a job that paid almost nothing, and I constantly day dreamed about the life I would have when I was older. Most often, I would imagine a modest house with a garden. I would probably have a dishwasher, but I would DEFINITELY have a bathtub.
Each day I sat behind a desk for 9 hours typing soil density reports, dreaming about when I finally became an adult and had nice things. I didn’t just want to survive, I wanted to thrive!
I followed all the paths to success that my parents and society laid out, and eagerly checked them off so I could get to the next step quicker.
How To Adult:
Go to College- A little later than my peers, but, Check!
Buy a Car- Check!
Get a Job- Check!
Buy the House…..?
I graduated college the year the economy tanked and like most people, never really recovered. Sure, I’ve been lucky enough to always have a job, but the wages that were supposed to increase with my brand new education stayed exactly where they were.
I had worked and worked, taken on mountains of debt, and was never going to finish checking things off my list.
All of a sudden I woke up at 35, and realized that the same feeling I had when I was 18 never left. I still went to a job I hated and day dreamed about “grown up” life, only now I was technically a grown up. More than fifteen years had passed and I was no closer to having that bathtub.
For some of us, living in a car or living in a camper was the only way we were able to recapture our sanity. It was a way out for us to have something close to the life we were promised. Sure, I had to readjust my priorities a bit, but it’s working out just great. Now instead of that house with the garden, it’s the time I spent in Costa Rica in the cabin with the tin roof.
Instead of the bathtub, it’s being able to sleep in and spend time with the people I love because I’m not so pressured to pay a mortgage.
I do what I want
If anything has changed about the new found fame Millennials have brought van dwelling, it has to be that its made it easier to live this life. We now have gadgets and websites that the hippies before us would have loved!
I think about all the times I’ve been looking for a sleep spot in a new area, and how helpful the Allstays App is. Without van dwelling being in the news all the time, I probably wouldn’t have my Pstyle pee stick that I love so much!
More interest in something makes companies invest in that thing. If there are more people that live in vans and tiny houses, and cars, then there will be more need for items that make van life easier. Things like compact dishware, portable toilet solutions, and affordable solar power.
I bet those old time van lifers didn’t have quiet, convenient solar generators!
So maybe we should back off the Millennials a little bit. They have made us Generation X’ers way more comfortable on the road, even if they do look cooler than we do! I think everyone can gain from trying out the van life, no matter the generation.
If you’re currently in that hampster wheel trying desperately to get ahead in life, try stepping off and trying something different. Just because society tells you to spend a ton on a college education, and a house in the suburbs, doesn’t mean you have to do it. You can create your own path, a smarter path that actually benefits you and not just a banker getting rich off your interest.
And if you’re a Millennial, take those pretty pictures and post them everywhere! Take your SnapChat stories and promote the hell out of them. It’s because of you guys that tiny houses are becoming more widely accepted. Its because of you that the stigma towards living in a car is starting to change.
And I thank you!
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