Millennials are not a monolith, but there is a stereotype I fully endorse: We are oversharers.
We love opening up about the most mundane aspects of our lives, and sometimes our biggest secrets. We aren’t afraid to go makeup-free, take an embarrassing selfie, or share a story that might make our parents cringe. It's just who we are.
Can you blame us? We’ve grown up watching people air their uglies on reality television to little consequence — save for a few divorces here and there. Our parents, Mr. Rogers, and Miley Cyrus all told us to just be ourselves and the world will love us for it.
So it’s frustrating for millennials to watch Hillary Clinton pretend to be healthy when she has pneumonia. Because we get it: people get sick. Especially incredibly busy people who shake hands for a living. So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is that she is afraid of appearing weak, understandably. But we millennials want authenticity from our leaders. (Consider the popularity of former candidate Bernie Sanders amoung young people. He kept it pretty real.) Clinton hiding her illness means she's buying into a system that endorses work over health, and super-human strength over realistic humanity.
I understand that as a woman running for president, Clinton faces a Catch-22. But I think she made the wrong choice here.
Morgan Conroy, a 26-year-old from Brooklyn, wishes Clinton had said something like: “‘During the course of our campaign, meeting and speaking with the great people all over our country, I and several of my staff members picked up a case of pneumonia. Getting sick is unfortunately a hazard of campaigning, and while it's frustrating and inconvenient, it just shows that illness is never convenient. All this does is remind me of how important accessible and affordable health care is to millions of Americans…’”
Conroy is part of The UnConvention Facebook group of millennials sharing their thoughts with PRI, 92Y and Mic as we cover this election.
My generation has adopted “self-care” as a value. We respect celebrities like Demi Lovato for discussing her struggles with bipolar disorder, and understand when Selena Gomez has to cancel a concert because of complications with lupus. It’s only when we don’t address health issues that they grow into something that interferes with work and life. It’s only when we’re not honest about who we are as people that others begin to have a reason not to trust us.
Clinton could have been part of this shame-free movement. To end the cycle of people feeling like they need to act tough to be taken seriously, we need leaders who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. We need leaders to admit that they are human. We don’t need them to overshare, but we do need them to be real.
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