Liz discovered her love of writing at the precocious age of 7. When she finished up her assignments before the rest of her classmates, her teacher asked her to write up a poem on happiness. She enthusiastically dove into the assignment, and then fell in love with writing. She went on to major in English and Creative Writing and upon graduation, hoped to continue developing her career as a writer.
But, the tough reality set in and Liz focused solely on finding a job and stopped nurturing her writing. When she found a good paying job as a customer service representative, Liz couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing, that she felt incomplete. So, she started to invest more in her writing. She pitched to a variety of publications, and soon was overwhelmed by writing commitments, performing at her job, and having time to spend with friends. One day, at her wit’s end, she had to face the reality that she couldn’t have all of that pressure to succeed at everything and still be happy. She started dialing back and evaluating what exactly she wanted at that moment. Frustrated by “click bait” pieces and “nostalgia porn,” Liz wanted to create pieces that people would find useful as opposed to something that would fill in their time.
That goal drove her to develop two projects: the Getting There Podcast (formerly Lady Bits) and Real Talk Magazine. Although both provide honest, real perspectives on the struggles that many of us are facing on a daily basis, Getting There is an uncensored collaboration with her friend Sarah Stewart. The weekly aired podcast started as a small project for the two friends, but through the power of social media, Liz was able to reach out to the executive producer of 5by5. Two and half months after they started the podcast, they were asked to join the network and have been hitting their stride ever since.
And while Liz’s resume of accomplishments are impressive, they came about with their own fair share of challenges. For Liz, the greatest challenge came in the form of developing and adhering to a schedule. As most of her friends had structured and routine activities, Liz had only herself to get things done. Developing the discipline and the balance of paid work, passion project, and her relationships took a while of trial an error. Now, she sets aside her evenings for her new husband and to recharge for the next day, and leaves working on everything else for mornings and weekends.
Finding that balance was a tough process for Liz, and while she has finally found a way to make things work, she often worries about her peers. Having been told by parents and supporters their entire lives that they could do anything, millennials are often unprepared for what happens when life does not follow the plan. “The term the quarter life crisis has been created for our generation, because we are struggling with the disparity between our dreams and what it takes to reach that dream.” But as many millennials continue to develop “side hustles” and invest in passion projects, Liz hopes that millennials can find fulfillment in that way. Her advice for passion seeking millennials? “Just start it, and don’t be afraid to ask your idols for advice. They are your idols for a reason.”
Volunteering. Its something that was weaved into our DNA from our very first bake sale fundraiser. With such an early practice of engaging and giving back to the community, millennials have earned their place among the most civically engaged generations.
While this usually leads to high political involvement, modern politics has turned into an awkward dance for most millennials. Not entirely pleased with available leadership options paired with an oppressive amount of misinformation, the data and facts driven millennials are often opting to tweet their views in lieu of casting their votes. And while we could point to a “tech addiction” among millennials, the big business of political campaigning creates a far less friendly climate for millennial involvement. Can it be fixed? If so, how?
For Rio Tazewell, regulating how political candidates can use donated funds will be the key to breaking down this barrier for all voters. As the Campaign Coordinator at People for the American Way, Rio has been building a movement to pass a constitutional amendment to regulate campaign spending.
But before his big move to Washington D.C., Rio started gaining public policy experience while in college. As a student he was involved in advocacy work to address climate change. Impressed by his dedication, a professor approached him upon graduation with the opportunity to help develop the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE).
While working with AIRE, he realized that there were so many great resources, but the community needed a way to connect with each other. He then founded the Boone Community Network, a social media platform designed to help community members build relationships. After years of personal and financial investment, and significant growth with the organization, Rio began to look for the a way that he could impact the world beyond the Boone’s borders. Having visited the nation’s capital on multiple occasions, Rio decided to pack up and move to the nation’s capital. A couple of months of job hunting and he landed his current position with People for the American Way.
Tasked with getting a constitutional amendment passed, Rio and his team are planning a campaign to get two thirds of Congress on board. If you’ve been paying attention, getting Congress to do anything is already difficult, but to get a solid majority? And while the challenges are countless, Rio looks to the smaller successes. For example, about 6 months ago, their sponsors in the Senate presented the resolution called Democracy for All and it passed with by 54 to 42 vote. That success serves as an example that an amendment could be possible.
But while this career success for Rio keeps him moving forward, nothing disappoints him more than millennials who give up on their dreams. Understanding that our generation is faced with unprecedented challenges, he also fears that we will run away from change as opposed to embracing it. And while Rio has his concerns, he hopes that we continue to explore and engage in our communities. Already we have more socially conscious organizations and people, that continuing on that path can only lead to a better society.