Our theme for February is actually a challenge: write a piece without using first person pronouns (I, me, we, etc.).
Conspiracy is rampant in the thirty-and-under crowd, and understandably so. Articles are written and shared about millennials seemingly every day, sometimes by millennials themselves who identify more closely with the philosophies of the previous generations. As a millennial, it’s understandable that you might feel a little leery of just about everyone: your grandmother, the middle-aged man behind you in the check-out line, the little girl next door.
Enter the anonymous, omniscient “they.”
While the origins of the new out-to-get-me theories are unclear, the man who brought these claims to power was the unassuming DJ Khaled. From the pulpit of Snapchat, he took a break from announcing his name at the beginning of every song he produces so that he could proclaim their arrival.
They don’t want you to eat.
They don’t want you to be healthy.
They don’t want you to jetski.
They don’t want you to have a Rolls Royce.
They don’t want you to smile.
They don’t want you to win.
“Who are they?” is an unnecessary question. You’ve already decided.
They’re your boss who thinks he’s the next CFO of Wallstreet, when he’s actually just your manager at Chipotle.
They’re your landlord who refuses to stop raising your rent year after year.
They’re your well-meaning parents who asks you every year if you’ve found that “special someone” yet.
They’re your enemies, your haters, your lovers, your family, your friends.
They’re people who you’ve never met, and people you’ve known your whole life.
Their perseverance makes them powerful. You can’t escape them. You can try to ignore them, but that won’t get you far. They never stop planning, and never stop surprising. They don’t rest, they wait.
Their goal is to recruit you: to get you to sign on and give up.
And many times, they get what they want.
They get what they want when you tell yourself that you’ll just watch one episode of your favorite Netflix show because you need a break, but then you tell yourself that you just need one more, and one more, and one more.
They get what they want when you keep switching between work and Facebook over and over until the day is done but your work still isn’t.
They get what they want when they make you forget that you can be extraordinary, and you settle for being average.
Fighting back isn’t hard in theory. “They want this, so just don’t do it.” But victory is not a picture of a jetski or a Rolls Royce. Those are just the chronicles of your winnings from the battlefield. What you did to win was that you made “them” irrelevant. You still heard them, but you didn’t follow them. Instead, you turned around, because what they had to offer was not in your best interest. You turned towards something better, and you were proud of the decision you made. You didn’t give them power because you didn’t choose them. You chose yourself. You loved yourself. And you earned your trophies for it.
Michael Kelly (’14) graduated from Calvin College with a double major in psychology and writing. Shortly after graduating, he began his graduate level study of educational research, measurement, and evaluation at Boston College. When he is not studying learning and teaching, Michael learns and teaches through stories and writing—fiction and nonfiction, comedy and tragedy, and everything else in between.