Writing this puts me at risk of being defined as a stereotypical millennial. But like my dad always said, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. This duck just happens to be a millennial who gets a high off of trying new things.
My birthday was this month and my husband didn’t get me a wrapped gift. I KNOW, RIGHT?! Nah. Before you shake your head in dismay and second-guess his spousal skills, allow me to explain.
For a few years now, Josh and I have chosen not to exchange traditional gifts. Instead, we exchange surprise experiences (I know, I know, I’m not sure what else to call it other than what it is). And this year’s surprise just happened to be on two wheels and loose gravel: an outdoor mountain biking class! You’d think this road cyclist has spent some time on a mountain bike, but as someone who isn’t all that great at descending due to a fear of crashing and breaking every bone in my body, the thought of mountain biking has always secretly intimidated me. So what’s a husband to do? GIVE THE GIRL A GIFT SHE’S POTENTIALLY TERRIFIED OF. Excellent choice, husband.
The REI class we took included three hours of skills and three hours of riding. Did I get abnormally frustrated at times due to my limited skills? Perhaps. Did I walk away still loving the idea of having a new foundation of knowledge to build upon? Absolutely. Was it a beautiful day spent in my favorite setting and with my favorite person? You betcha. Are these self-reflecting thoughts of knowledge gained and lessons learned making me feel ancient? Without a doubt.
You see, I don’t have a closet full of omg-so-cute clothes. Nor do I have a condo that’s immaculately decorated. As much as I double tap these things on Instagram, Josh and I have aligned on a different strategy. We save our pennies and when we do spend money, it’s on what’s important to us. It’s on adventures, dinners, classes, and experiences that somehow seem to make the world a little brighter. I also recognize that I’m extremely fortunate to be able to do these things and one day, it might not always be the case. Thus, even more reason why experiences hold that much more weight in our lives.
This idea isn’t novel by any means and we too are part of a research-proven statistic. Millennials are spending their cash on experiences, not things, and a lot of this research points to social media, the desire to “show off”, and “FOMO” as a main driver in this shift.
Please researchers, I beg of you. Stop chalking up all of our habits as an outcome of social media. Is it part of our daily lives? Yes. But it’s also a regular part of many other groups of people’s lives who have different habits and value different things. So let’s let that one go.
Instead, social media is a point of inspiration. It opened my eyes to ways of seeing, creating, and living that I may not have known about before. And yes, I love to share my experiences with my friends and family, but it’s just that. Inspiration and a documentation of moments that are important to me. We are wise enough to know the difference of when we’re doing something for ourselves, versus doing it for the likes. And experiences, to me, are for me.
It’s that feeling when I’m outside.
When I’m hiking.
When I’m running.
When I’m discovering new beer.
When I’m learning to make pasta.
When I’m flying in a glider plane.
When I’m jumping out of a plane…or off a bridge.
I can feel the difference in my being and that’s what I’m going to put my money towards.
Soul-changing, mood-boosting, memory-making, experiences.
Because let’s face it, that purse he bought you for your anniversary is going to be out of style next year anyways.