Audio you’ll love: Millennial
Something a little different today! You know that I love and consume a lot of podcasts (see here and there), which all started when my friend Emma introduced me to This American Life a few years ago. Some say that we live in a golden age, when it comes to podcasting and much like blogging, it’s amazing that people just like you and me can produce good-quality radio from their bedrooms about a variety of topics.
I love that I have found my way to podcasts because growing up in the mid 80s, if there was always music in my house and we were whisked off to the cinema, theatre, or art gallery frequently, the kitchen radio set stayed obstinately quiet. To be fair, both my parents work in scientific circles and I don’t think they cared too much about following cultural or political debates, at least not until they entered their fifties a few years ago.
Just counting on my parents’ tastes, I would never really have found a love for the radio. As Generation X kids, they were both born in the 60s and the first in their family to go to university for short practical degrees. Their careers grew organically and they’re still with the employers who gave them a chance some 30-odd years ago. This just doesn’t happen anymore, does it?
If I’m telling you all this, it’s to set the scene for a review of a podcast I’ve been listening to recently. It’s called Millennial – a word everybody loves to hate perhaps. It’s hosted and produced by Megan Tan, a graduate in Photojournalism who lives in Portland, Maine and records her show from her closet. I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon it, I must have been browsing the noteworthy section on my iPhone, but I’ve been burning through the episodes ever since.
So, what’s the podcast about? In a nutshell, it’s about navigating your twenties without a rulebook, in a much different world than the one you’ve been coached for by your parents. Because let’s face it, there is a gulf between our experience of studying and entering the workforce and that of our folks. The podcast is about fear and ambition and uncertainty in this context, about comparing yourself to others, about figuring out what to do next when you feel that every little choice you make can have a tremendous impact on your future. It’s about rejection and money, and fulfilment. It’s about friendship too, and asking for support from your network, personal and professional, to move forward.
I’m enjoying listening to Millennial because it is quite fresh and imperfect in a way. Megan’s story starts in media res, bang on after graduation and moving back to her hometown. She’s in the position of seemingly having done “everything right”: a good degree, a string of internships with established names in the industry she wants, recognition and awards for her work so far and yet, she’s crippled by that sinking feeling that no one is coming along to pluck her out from the sea of graduates and giving her a chance to do what she loves, and get paid for it. Yes, it sounds a little naive writing it like that, but I think this is something some of us can relate to. I know I do, or did, in the few years after I graduated (so from 2011 onwards).
At the core of this podcast, there’s also something else that’s interesting: the worry that there is a “path” to happiness at work and in life for us and that if we’re not constantly pursuing our goals, we might not get to the life we want (I’ll let you think about whether this is true or not, realistic or not). There truly is something heartbreaking about millennials (myself included) who have been raised with the “carrot” ahead of a good and interesting job if they studied and worked hard, and for that promise to not materials itself. There are some really tough narratives out there too: that unless an employer comes along and confirms your worth, you are not a success. That if you move back with your parents, you are not a success. That if you have to compromise on which jobs you take after graduation, you are not a success. But at the same time, that we’re ungrateful, that we’re not hard workers, that we’ve wasted time and money getting theoretical degrees. I mean, those two competing messages are enough to confuse any smart and balanced twenty-something! In a way, this podcast is also about anxiety, one that a lot of us have been all up close and personal with, and it’s refreshing to have it all like that in the open.
So, come along and feel a little less alone by following Megan’s journey if you know what I’ve been talking about in this post. If you have been listening to the show, let me know what your thoughts are in the comments and if you give it a try after reading this post, please do come back and share your feedback.