Inheriting the Weight of the World
“Geniuses, Activists, and Natural-Born Leaders are positions that don’t have minimum-age requirements.” — Siria Contreras
The month of July is typically a busy one for me, as it is also when the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles summer sessions tend to occur. This camp is an organization that I helped start with a group of other amazing women and that is now in its 10th year that serves as an annual reconnect with future generations. I’ve generally always found a way to balance being present at camp, while also maintaining a presence in my professional entertainment career (previously including: AT&T, CBS, NBC, etc) but not always all day every day.
However, this July was exceptionally busier between balancing managing Consciously Studio initiatives, other projects, social commitments, and attempting to be present at camp 90% of the time.
Needless to say, I am still playing catch-up from the first part of July yet recently made the time to accept another opportunity to connect with a handful of young adults in order to help provide some guidance to various areas of concern that they had.
A couple of those areas stuck with me and I thought I would share as others may be able to relate on a more universal level.
Age/Responsibility: One area where these Gen Zers expressed frustration was the paradox of being considered too young to hold certain responsibilities yet, at the same time because of the time and circumstances that they’ve been born into, facing the pressure and expectation of making an impact in the world.
In turn, leaving them feeling like they have had no choice in bearing the responsibility of taking on the weight of the world. Some happily accept it as they know that it takes action from everyone to make significant change, but others do see it as a burden. Primarily, because they are trying to at the same time make the shift from teenager to young adult to adult, and if any of us can recall adolescence and college we know just how many things can preoccupy the minds of that age.
Some of the advice that I provided to them was that the choice should always remain with them to decide in what way they will impact in the world. I also reminded them that everyone can be socially responsible via small everyday actions and that not everyone should have to step up to lead and drive the bigger initiatives, both types are needed to make a true and sustainable impact in this world. I also felt that repositioning how they viewed this responsibility was important and told them to focus on shifting their perspectives to that of holding themselves responsible for helping the world one action at a time instead of feeling like they need to save the world.
I also encouraged them to take a moment to check in with themselves by ensuring that the changes they want to make or see come from fruition be derived from a place of passion. The biggest impact that each of us will make will come from a place of passion, as it is that passion that a.) will get others on board with your vision/mission, b.) will keep you going when you feel like you aren’t making any progress, c.) keep you from becoming resentful of the time that you invest.
I shared with them that for me personally, I always felt a desire to help others from a young age, no one forced me to. I always felt a responsibility and desire to give back in one way or another, out of choice.
In regards to the question around age, I advised not putting too much weight on age. Geniuses, Activists, and Natural-Born Leaders are positions that don’t have minimum-age requirements. Anyone at any age can make a difference and eventually it’ll be their actions and not age that’ll be the focus. As they accomplish more, their confidence in their abilities and expertise will grow and they won’t need to hide behind the stigma of potentially being the youngest person in the room. Sure the buzz of the teen phenom will always exist, but don’t let the potential acquisition of star power be the driver for your actions.
I intimated that I myself have had to deal with age being a part of the conversation most of my life. I’ve always been a self-starter and person of action since quite young and oftentimes the youngest person involved in most endeavors that I’ve been involved in or led. Whether that stems from having been the first-born child in my family (although, many would argue that my younger brother is older of the two of us) or the eldest grandchild on my father’s side of the family, I don’t know, but if it does it would only play a small factor. One thing that those two circumstances did afford me was often time being the only child around adults.
However, being a naturally curious person I’ve always been drawn to those with more life experience than me, which accounts for many of my circles of friends also including many people who are older than I am.
I myself actually don’t think of people via age brackets, I just think of them as people overall and just like I know that I was a very capable pre-teen, teen, and adult I know that these future generations are all quite capable as well.
It amuses me that people still assume all of the time that I am younger than I am, yet I can assure you that I am no longer in my 20’s nor even my early 30’s (thanks mom and dad for the genes). However, I’m rarely offended as I primarily hear it when people are complimenting me on what I’ve accomplished for my age Privacy: Another area discussed was my experience navigating social media as an adult and how to balance having a public social media presence while still maintaining some privacy, since many of them grew up with social media as part of their everyday lives and feel obligated to post much of their daily life out into the world. While I can’t relate specifically to having been born into a social-media first world and can’t imagine the pressure of having to grow up in public, I did give them a few personal examples of how to find their own balance of the public vs. private.
Personal Relationships: Many of them were concerned with living out the relationship sagas that happen in teens and twenties in such a public forum—most importantly the embarrassment of public breakups. In this area, I wasn’t as much help. Although, I am currently single, when I am in a relationship or dating anyone I actually don’t really post much about it, if at all, on social media. You can go back and scour my social media and I doubt that you’ll find any posts from me on any past relationships. It’s not that I’m hiding any past relationships, on the contrary they were all wonderful people. I’m just a pretty private person and therefore that’s one area that I like to keep for the most part off of social media. However, I don’t pass judgment on anyone who posts every detail of their relationship on social media, the world needs more examples of happy couples. My advice was that they should do what feels right to them and their partners and to try to be as respectful as possible of both themselves and their significant others.
General Life vs. Professional Life on Social Media: Again, this very much depends on personal preference. Some people like to keep their social life and professional life completely separate. My social media is a mix of both. However, going back to my statement of being a somewhat private person, although I do share happenings from my personal and professional life on a regular basis I still do not post every single thing. For example when it comes to projects I don’t post every single little thing. In fact, prior to the public launch this spring, almost no one knew about CONSCIOUSLY/CONSCIOUSLY STUDIO and most don’t know about future projects to come. I tend to post after-the-fact or once something exists. Some of it comes from not wanting to announce things too prematurely as a lot of people will spend a lot of time talking about what they would like to do or what they are going to do, yet only a small percentage actually finish or follow-through. I prefer to share things that I’ve done versus those that I’m going to do.
Other personal thoughts and actions around social media for me include:
Acknowledging that Social Media is also a great discovery tool so I tend to post things or experiences that I found interesting or that friends/colleagues are involved in.
Professionally as a marketer, when it comes to building audiences for shows, films, products—the integration of social media into these campaigns has been a real game-changer and revenue driver for just about every company.
From a creative standpoint, I sometimes will treat it as another outlet for thoughts, writing, art, etc. but in actuality very little of my writing makes it onto my social media channels. It’s primarily spur-of-the moment musings or braindumps triggered usually by the remains of a day, not anything I’ve spent much time on.
Social life - Last of all on this topic, the key word in “social media” is “social” so you are supposed to experience it with others. Some of my friends are more “social” than others so I do get tagged in posts or I’ll document some outings, but I’m sure that by now most people realize that I likely only post about 10% of what I do. There are a lot of meetings with great people, events/activations, or entertainment-industry related things that I don’t feel the need to document on my social media channels again to retain some of my personal and professional privacy.
One final topic we addressed was being a global citizen and living where you work. One great thing about living in a social media driven world for this younger generation is that it has really exposed them to other countries and cultures in ways that all of the encyclopedias and documentaries in the world couldn’t do for previous generations. Many of them want to travel and explore. Since many of these teens were interested in careers in Entertainment, they wondered if I felt like they needed to live in Los Angeles or another big city to work in Entertainment. I assured them that while it is helpful during the formative years of their careers that living in such a connected and digital age there was no longer the same limitation of being restricted to living in the city where the company you work for is. At this point in my career, I feel like I could live anywhere in the world and still be able to manage a team that works out of one city.
This mutual exchange could’ve gone on forever, and I would’ve welcomed it. I am pretty certain that after discussing the aforementioned topics as well as many other with this group of futurists, I am willing to bet that I came away with just as much wisdom, if not more than that which I provided them with. I am always happy to spend time with smart, inspiring, and proactive members of our future generations and cannot wait to see what we all accomplish together over the next few years. Cross-generational collaboration will be key to tackling some of the various issues we face in the world and society as a whole.