I think I was in the third grade when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 took place. I was in the middle of class when I was suddenly told that I was being pulled out of school early. My parents picked up me and my brother and brought us straight home. In all honestly, I remember being happy that I got to leave school early at the time, and from what I remember, my parents just let me stay that way. They didn't explain the reason they picked us up right away, and now I can imagine why.
They must have been terrified of seeing the Twin Towers come down on the news and assumed the worst. Wanting to protect their kids from everything, they picked us up and wanted to protect us at any cost.
I hadn't entirely processed it at the time, but it took me a while to realize what a profound effect that would have on millennials. It was an awful event that terraformed the world my generation would grow up in. As one woman on TikTok pointed out, that wasn't the only such event.
Millennials are anxious all the time, and this woman lays out why.
In mid-April 2023, Shantel (@shantelmsmith) on TikTok posted a video that almost immediately went viral. In it, she basically explains why millennials are so anxious all the time about the many responsibilities and external stressors we're made to deal with as adults now.
Obviously, there's plenty of leeway for personal strife and conflict in an individual's life. Not everyone's trauma looks exactly the same, no matter who they are, and Shantel makes no assumptions about that fact. What she does do, however, is list all of the historic life-changing events that millennials have experienced in a collective single lifetime. And unfortunately, a life-changing event isn't always a good one.
As early as 1997, Princess Diana of the British royal family died in a car crash at only 36 years old. She was popular and well-loved on an international level, and news of her untimely death shook the entire world.
In 1999, Columbine High School became the site of a mass shooting, creating an uneasy environment for young students.
In 2001, the 9/11 terrorist attacks kicked off an era of paranoia, unrest, and xenophobia. In fact, it led directly to the U.S. declaring war on Iraq in 2003.
Not long after that, a global recession led to job loss and a housing market collapse. In 2012, the Black Lives Matter movement was sparked after the unjust murder of Trayvon Martin. And who could forget the infamous 2016 election, the result of which almost directly led to a global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020?
Seeing all of it laid out on one timeline courtesy of Shantel, it's easy to see why millennials are so anxious all the time. Any one of these events would be worthy of their own lengthy unit in a college history class syllabus. That said, anyone born a millennial will have experienced all of these moments in a single lifetime, and that would weigh heavily on anyone's soul.
In fact, the repercussions of most of these turning points in history can still be felt to this day. The Muslim community in the U.S. still faces prejudice following the 9/11 attacks, racial injustice from law enforcement still plagues Black communities, and as of 2023, over 300,000 school students have experienced gun violence and school shootings that have resulted in dozens if not hundreds of deaths.
As if that weren't enough, folks in the comments of Shantel's video had more events to add to the list of general trauma. Many referenced other attacks like the Boston Marathon bombings, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, and the anthrax scare that took place shortly after 9/11, just to name a few.
Even Gen Z kiddies who were born between 1996 and the early 2010s chimed in, remembering most of the traumatizing world events that would have a hand in shaping some futures.
Even if you weren't personally affected by any of the above, the fact that we millennials grew up in a world that was scarred by these events most certainly speaks to the kind of worries we have now as anxious adults.