What I Got Wrong: The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

I’m a published author — a fact I manage to forget on a regular basis. I started my writing journey as a minimalism blogger. I used to write about how I only owned five pairs of shoes, and how I maintained my 500 square foot apartment and didn’t own a TV, and how I aspired to fit everything I owned into my Honda Fit.

I have more stuff now — and a larger car. I no longer write about minimalism.

I wrote my first novel during NaNoWriMo in 2007 when I was in college, and I later deleted it outright. I’m now working on the first in a trilogy of speculative fiction novels that include time travel and a whole lot of queer and disabled characters.

But the book I “accidentally” wrote is The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation.

I say accidentally because I never intended to write a book about it. I just needed to get an idea out of my head, so I wrote a blog.

The idea was this: being raised on statements like “You can be anything you want if you work hard!” and “We want to leave this world better than we found it for our kids” meant that we grew up expecting the world to be better, and expecting that we could be anything we wanted if we worked hard.

Work hard we have.

The millennial generation is highly educated and makes up the largest portion of the global workforce. And yet we’re still picking up gig work and second jobs to make ends meet because the status quo didn’t get the memo that we’re building a better world.

Despite this hard work, and despite being primed to expect things to “be better,” when we arrived in adulthood we were told over and over again that “that’s not how things work.”

I’m not sure if you know this, but society is meant to change and adapt. The fact that the United States minimum wage has stagnated at $7.25 since 2009 while the cost of living soars is not an accident. It’s by design.

And the fact that we were raised to believe we would inherit a better world than our parents were raised in, only to have the rug pulled out from under us and told that’s not how it works, is nothing short of gaslighting.

Gen Z is now entering the work force and gives even fewer fucks about the status quo than millennials, and that’s saying something because we embraced the expectation that we’d simply die before needing to tap a retirement account about a decade ago.

I wrote this book to say something important.

And I did, but I also wrote it from a place of fear and wanting to be seen as a legitimate author, so I hedged my bets and regurgitated things I had learned and absorbed from others rather than provide commentary purely from my own perspective.

I don’t care about what people think of me anymore. I care what I think of me. And I’d change a lot of what I wrote, but I can’t go back in time (at least until the technology from my novel exists in real life!)

So, the cliff notes on what I would change in this book:

  1. I wrote that I’m not anti-capitalist, that capitalism is simply an exchange of goods or services for money. This is not true. Capitalism is the reason this gaslighting is occurring in the first place, because our capitalist system is grinding people to dust for profit and corporate greed.
  2. I wrote that I’m a cis woman. At the time this was as true as it could possibly be, but I’ve since come out as non-binary and use they/them pronouns.
  3. I really was on my Dave Ramsey bullshit and promoted a lot of his ideas about money and renting vs. owning a home. I am now off my Dave Ramsey bullshit and think his teachings leave very little room for the nuance of structural oppression built into the way our society uses debt and money.
  4. The happy lovely relationships I reference in the book ended spectacularly after it was published, so that’s just kind of embarrassing tbh.

For the most part though, what I wrote about in this book remains true to the spirit of the message I felt called to share.

Because of an idea I couldn’t get out of my head, which I wrote in my blog, which went viral on Twitter, which led to an agent reaching out to me, which led to me writing a whole ass book.

A book I don’t give enough credit, because of the way I think about it. It wasn’t as me as it could have been, even should have been. But it was as me as it could have been at the time, when I was fresh out of an abusive relationship and putting together what being myself even meant.

Why am I bringing this up again now? Because next month is the third anniversary of The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation‘s publication — and I’m inviting you to the celebration. I’ll be hosting panels, speakers, and more (specifics TBD, I’m still finalizing topics!)

Cancel that — it’s just going to be a fun party, I’m going to read some excerpts and share updated commentary, and we’re going to have a good time.

RSVP on Facebook for now, with a more formal signup to follow so you can get access to replays and more. This event will be 100% FREE.

UPDATE: THE FORMAL SIGNUP IS ALIVE!

2 thoughts on “What I Got Wrong: The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation

  1. About the changes you’ve experienced since you wrote that book, character development, I say.

    As for everything else, you won’t find something like “Millennial” or “Gen Z” to mark a generation here. However, the same struggles are still happening between people born in 60s and 70s (believe it or not, a lot of them are also from 80s) You don’t see much attitude change until you get to the people born in 90s or 2000s.

    The kids of 2010s will be old enough to do a commentary of their own by the end of this decade. I wonder what they will say? Assuming if they are willing to say anything in the first place?

    Thanks for a thought-provoking article, Caitlin.

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