How I Stopped Being a Millennial or Having Friends Who Can't Use the Phone by Sophia Chang

© 2017 Sophia Chang

2016 will go down as the year I stopped being a millennial.

I didn't know I was a millennial until I joined Snapchat to do my Day in the Life for Asian Pacific American Month in May and a middle-aged woman sent me a nasty email calling me the 'm' word.

I'd never been so flattered - she thought I was 25! If you can't fight 'em, join 'em.

After two seasons of documenting #foodporn (apparently octopus was the "it" ingredient of 2016 - I had it THREE times with the same foodie companion) and making myself jealous with my own 4-party birthday extravaganza, my love affair with being a millennial ended when I became ill.

Last fall, I developed CPTSD. It caused acute gastritis and a neurological tremor that has made it impossible to drive, write, or use the computer. I'd make less typos if I just mashed my face into the keyboard.

I took most apps off my phone and cut my social media down to two platforms (Twitter and Instagram, most of which I dictate). Immediately something happened: all the 20-year-olds left my life.

Pix Or You Don't Exist

During the illness that became the worst two months of my life, nobody below the age of 30 reached out to see if I was okay, and nobody below the age of 40 actually came over to bring me food and drive me to church.

The one twentysomething who wrote me on Facebook to ask why I wasn't on Snapchat nervously exclaimed, "But I don't know how to reach you!" (I explained that the boxy thing in his hand he was messaging me on also made phone calls, but it was all too much for him and he's resorted to liking my IG posts as the extent of f***s he's willing to give.)

He wasn't the only one who turned out to be just a social media liker. I lost about 80% of my "friends", and though it's changed how much I trust the human race, it is a valuable lesson on who not to spend your time on.

I also realized the benefit of being born on a cusp between the last decent generation and this horrible one that doesn't know how to speak using their voiceboxes - I can choose, with a quick deletion of accounts, which generation to emulate.

It's not easy. I've spent too many years trying to be relevant. There's a saying in the coaching circles that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Right now my days are filled with kind church people with too many kids to care about makeup, pessimistic Gen X-ers who have real jobs, and people nearing retirement who actually call me on the phone, the way we used to when I was a child in the 80s and 90s.

Even so, my millennial roots are hard to kill.

Cue BeetHoven's ninth

A few nights ago I forgot my laptop charger. "What am I going to do for 2 hours? I can't watch Vampire Diaries!" I whined to my ex, who's almost 40, is one of the few people keeping me fed during my sickness, and has no patience for "kids". (Everyone my age and younger is a kid.)

"You're freaking out, aren't you?" He smirked at me over his X-box controller. (Hey, he's not perfect either.)

"No," I stammered. "I just have an article to finish about not being a millennial anymore. Now it's going to late. But FINE I can read a BOOK!"

Yes. I've sucked often when it comes to getting rid of the instant gratification we 80's children are afflicted with. But I'm on the right road hanging out with real people and letting everyone else drift out of my life.

It's why I go back East every year. I don't want to turn into an Angeleno, not returning phone calls. It's why I go to 4-5 churches a week. It's why my parents wanted me to go to Harvard so badly after growing up in a white trash town amid slutty theatre kids.

Hang around a Kardashian long enough...

How I Am Now

I'm still recovering. I spill things and my spoon shakes when I eat. For 2 months, my acid-reflux made me gag for the first 8 hours of the day and I've lost so much muscle mass I'm down to my Hollywood weight. Except it doesn't look so cute when you're not actually trying to lose weight. During my worst weeks my ex said I resembled the mangy "Memories" cat from Cats the Musical.

Yes. This decrepit homeless cat who used to be somebody. That's me.  Photo credit

Yes. This decrepit homeless cat who used to be somebody. That's me. Photo credit

I haven't looked in a mirror in 2 months. Not because I've learned to be as unvain as my friends, but because I'm terrified of the Medusa that might stare back at me. (If you look at what social media I have left, there isn't a photo of me between Nov 1 and Dec 24, 2016.)

In a way, this is the final coating of man repellant I've been wearing for the last half year: not only am I too old to be a #wcw - that's Woman Crush Wednesday for us oldies - I don't even have a selfie to submit. 

You Can Be Old and a Douchebag too

I'm not saying you have to be in your 20s to be a shallow friend. Plenty of older people stopped talking to me, too. In fact, God gave me a Proverbs-level lesson on what a true friend is, and you can bet I'm humbled and chastened by it. One of my oldest friends continues to pretend nothing happened to me, but I see him unable to deal with anyone else's emotions either so I don't take it personally, though it does make me sad.

We all already have concentric rings of friends. By nature there are certain groups inherently more trustworthy and others that are the scourge of the earth. (How many barely-employed actors do you have to date before you learn what hell is? My count is 3.)

This round also isn't the first time life has given me the measure of people. High school classmates mysteriously found my email when my Tampax commercial started airing during Friends. Ex-friends suddenly commented on a photo that had a celebrity hugging me. And the flipside: fellow writers got huge book deals and I wasn't worthy of a lunch anymore. 

My ex is always surprised by how hurt I am by these things. "What did you expect?" he always says. "Everyone is like this."

Is this true? Is this really what the world is like? Then I am naive. And incredibly idealistic.

Beating the Millennialism Out of Me

Well if not being a millennial means being more realistic, I'm learning. To be honest, I too am a little surprised. I never thought of myself as an innocent person - I took the subway into Harlem at 3 a.m. when I was 15 (by accident) and I moved out of my parents' home two weeks after I turned 17 (very purposefully).

Yet, I was also swindled $6000 by my manager in Hollywood, and I've been dumped out of the blue by men who, in the same week, asked me to move in with them - and somehow I still have the audacity to be shocked when people don't mean what they say.

Why DO people lie? What is the point? And why didn't I get that gene?

But that's neither here nor there.

the point

I was raised by a father who used to get out on the toll bridge to hand $10 to the car in front who didn't have enough change, even though he was a poor immigrant who escaped from war and went hungry most of his young life.

I grew up expecting people to be good - and perhaps that's what makes me most millennial of all.

"I can't believe how few really good friends I have," I said to my ex on Christmas Eve.

"That's all we ever have," he said. "I only have a few really good friends." 

That's all you need, seemed to be his point. My final lesson as a recovering millennial is to be completely ok with that.

But I do have a helpful lesson to share, and this one will save you a lot of time and heartache - people who can't be bothered to use the phone shouldn't be bothered.

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