Happy Thanksgiving! This year, in spite of all the challenges we face as individuals and as a global family, I realize that much of the gratitude I feel (TRULY feel) comes from my work on this Gen Z book. Here are some of my favorite qualities of Gen Z, and why I believe our future rests safely in their hands.
What I Love about Gen Z
- Creative: You’re always finding new ways to decorate a cupcake (Makayla, age 14, wins every contest), do your dance moves, and pose for those social-media selfies. Especially during this year of perpetual quarantining, what matters more than sharing gorgeous food and humorous antics?
- Funny: Whether it’s Aiden’s (11) corny knock-knock jokes, Alexis’s (20) ironic TikTok videos, or Sarah’s (18) sarcastic descriptions of her parents’ boring suburban neighborhood, nobody makes me laugh from the pit of my belly like Gen Zers do.
- Inventive: As much as you’ve got to admire this kid in East L.A. named Caine (9) who made a funhouse arcade out of cardboard–that drew hundreds of thousands of paying customers and inspired one million other kids to take the “cardboard challenge”–there are about 240 million more Gen Zers currently on this planet with equally amazing brains.
- Defiant: You will not stand for anyone telling you who to be or how to live. Sometimes in anger, sometimes with quiet stubbornness, you experiment with your looks, your intake of substances, your choice of lovers and friends, and your political and philosophical views. I deeply respect this daring approach to life.
- Justice warriors: My research on the recent U.S. election revealed that Gen Zers from all political ilks band together when it comes to human rights. You insist on equality across the spectra of racial, cultural, socioeconomic, and sexual/gender identity.
- Resilient: You were born into terrorist attacks and economic recession, grew up in schools where shootings can happen to anyone anywhere, in neighborhoods where people get stopped/arrested/murdered because of the color of their skin, and a world held hostage by megalomaniacal politicians and a malignant viral pandemic. Yet you carry on like no generation ever has; you cope, and you even thrive.
- Fiercely loving: The loyal kind of love I’ve seen from Gen Zers in my life has blown me away. When you decide that someone is in your heart, you give your whole self–no judgment, no competition, no conditions.
- Cooperative: One of the qualities associated with Gen Z that indicates future success, not just for your generation but for society, is your ability to work together, pool your talents, and open-source ideas. My coauthor Sanam (19) has shown incredible grace and flexibility in working with me over the past 1.5 years, across radically changing circumstances and far longer than we expected to dedicate to our book project. She, along with Maya, Sarah, Fatima, and Michaela, lift my spirits every time we meet with their cheerful attitude toward getting things done.
- Multitasking: Somehow you can focus on the conversation in the room, sirens out in the street, and text messages popping up on your phone, all while out-scoring yourself on your favorite video game. It’s more than the fact that your grey matter is still young and pliable; you have a more expansive mental capacity than humans ever have had, in history.
- Cynical optimists: Your generation, for the most part, ascribes to no religion and pays homage to no particular corporation or government, because you will blindly follow no creed and no one. However, you readily embrace reality and despite climate crisis and social/governmental corruption, you find a way to believe in tomorrow. I think that’s because you know you have yourself to lean on . . .And that, my friends, will be more than enough.
Cover image used with gratitude for cole-keister-mt8vvsekV6E-unsplash.jpg of Unsplash.