I’m a 24-year-old Christian Millennial. More than 40 percent of my peers are underemployed, living at home with their parents, or “working” unpaid internships until they “make it.” The statistics are depressing, but the reality is, I think many of us are underestimating our abilities. Like Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12).
People may call Millennials narcissistic, entitled, and selfish, but for the reason written above, I see us as capable, confident, and courageous. After all, we are the next generation called to take over the world–or, as some see it, the ones who will save it from the hell-hole it’s become (and always will be…until Jesus comes back).
It’s graduation season in America, and the diplomas and tassles flying all around me remind me of the processionals I’ve participated in over the past couple of years. After receiving a B.A. in Communications (Media Studies) from Wheaton College in 2011, I went on to receive a Masters of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2012. I got offered a full-time job at Christianity Today magazine as an editor and reporter the day I graduated from my masters program, and have been both the online editor for Today’s Christian Woman and a blogger at ChicagoNow since September 2012. Two weeks after I started my job at CT, I got offered a contract at Wheaton College to become the journalism program assistant. Over the past nine months, I helped students find internships, traveled to Honduras over spring break with a team of 22 students as a Wheaton College faculty advisor, and even helped teach a class, Internet Journalism, in spring 2013 (check out the website my class launched, “Millennial Influx,” at this link).
I’ve met Justin Bieber, David Crowder, Louie Giglio, Christine Caine, Chris Tomlin, Kim Walker-Smith, Amy Grant, and more during my journalistic endeavors. Five years ago, I never thought I’d be sitting where I am today. Some people call me overconfident, but others say I’m encouraging and inspiring. I prefer the latter definition. Because I choose to believe that if you can dream it, you can do it, and I want everybody in the world to pursue their passions and live the life God’s called them to live because that’s what the world needs–people who have come alive.
Optimism is underrated
It literally kills me when I hear from or see people who are pessimistic about life, so I choose to surround myself with people who like dreaming big, too. My office is plastered with Successories posters, inspirational quotes, and photographs of people I love, because I love them, and am encouraged and inspired by them, too. As Chance Scoggins says on his blog of advice for recent graduates, “Find your people. Find your team. You’ll be amazed what happens when you surround yourself with people who are in your corner.”
Aside from surrounding myself with people who love me, encourage me, pray for me, and keep me accountable, I choose to dream big and set goals for myself. The best thing I ever did in college was during my introductory communications course: “Write down everything you’d ever want to do, ever,” my professor, Roy, said to us. So I wrote down a list of occupations and dream jobs ranging from “DJ” to “professional golfer” to “gourmet chef” to “professor,” and went on with my life.
Much to my surprise, when I dug that list out of my filing cabinet a few months ago, I realized I’d accomplished every single thing on that list in one form or another. I was amazed because I knew I’d discovered the four-mula for a successful life:
1) Write down everything you’d ever want to do in life, ever.
Don’t leave anything out! From the mundane to the outrageous, put it all in there. Brainstorm like crazy – NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS! What energizes you? What are you passionate about? What makes you come alive?
2) Pray God would give you opportunities to do those things.
Persistence, perseverance, determination, Red Bull, and black coffee have all helped get me to where I am today, but none of my successes would have been possible without God’s grace and hand guiding me through it all. Prayer works. So, just do it. Even if you feel stupid. “Dear Jesus, I want to be a rock star.” “Dear Jesus, I’d really like to travel around the world.” “Dear Jesus, show me how to love people better.” You might not start off at the top (plenty of people, including me, have scrubbed toilets before reaching “dream job” status). Therefore, he may not answer every prayer the way you think you want him to, but he’s listening, and knows what’s best for you in every moment. I promise.
3) Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way.
Don’t meander through each day scanning Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and wishing you had the “perfect life.” As my friend Maggie says, stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel. Go out and MAKE IT HAPPEN! Get up off the couch and live an amazing race for yourself.
4) Watch your dreams come true.
I’m Allison J. Althoff, and I’ve made it. As one of my fitness-guru-friends says, it’s not the second time you say no to the donut, it’s the 27th time. Meaning, commitment, persistence, and diligence are important. Every day hasn’t been easy, and there have been some bumps in the road, but, in the words of pastor Banning Liebscher, every day I wake up and say to myself, I’m a game changer. I just am. That’s what God’s called me to do, it’s what he’s called me to be, and I’m going to give everything for it. Are you?