Different but just as resilient

Approaching my 60-year-old mother for life advice can sometimes end with me declaring: "You don't understand, times are different now."

And, at the risk of exhibiting the very traits that give millennials like me a bad reputation - stubborn, entitled, narcissistic - I believe I'm right.

While I value her input, I am not unlike most 25-year-olds in holding different perspectives when it comes to handling issues, influenced undoubtedly by the different times in which we have grown up.

For one thing, I believe in the convenience of Internet banking, while my mother, who is less trusting of the Internet, prefers to make payments by cash or cheque.

Millennials like me, loosely defined as those born in the 1980s or 1990s, have grown up and lived in a more privileged environment than our parents.

Many of us have parents who worked hard to make sure we do not need to work as hard. We are often accused of being weak under pressure and mollycoddled by our parents. This has, unfortunately, earned us the label "strawberry generation", easily bruised and crushed, lacking endurance, perseverance and resilience.

I admit that members of my generation - especially those born into relatively well-off families in affluent societies - have been brought up enjoying the luxury of choice and the convenience brought on by the Internet.

Each era deals with its own unique set of problems in its own way - and I hope I remember that in the not-too-distant future before I start criticising the next generation.

But the fewer hardships we experienced does not mean we lack resilience or the ability to bounce back.

We have had our share of challenges, and these include cyber-bullying, intense academic pressure, eating disorders and parental divorce.

They may pale in comparison to the older generations' struggles in wartime and economic slumps.

But what's significant is that while the issues we deal with are inherently different, my generation, like the generations that precede us, possesses the ability to bounce back.

I've seen a girl who tackled her eating disorder head-on by starting a blog to advocate healthy eating.

There was this former schoolmate who fought cancer, which is in remission.

I've witnessed a close friend, whose parents divorced when she was in primary school, deal with the pressures of a non-traditional family structure when both parents remarried. Suddenly, she had new extended families plus the addition of a younger half-sister.

Through our school years, I watched her juggle expectations from both sides, such as fulfilling commitments for Chinese New Year visits and festive gatherings - demands made worse when she had to take on the role of caregiver to her mother, who suffers from depression.

In The Straits Times' new series of interviews, Generation Grit, some of the millennials featured bounced back from accidents and troubled pasts. They may not have faced the typical hardships of the generations past, but I hope their stories remind all of us, millennial or not, that resilience lives on in each generation.

Each era deals with its own unique set of problems in its own way - and I hope I remember that in the not-too-distant future before I start criticising the next generation.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 07, 2017, with the headline 'Different but just as resilient'. Print Edition | Subscribe