By Josh Ferrari
I accepted an award last Monday night.
My parents spent the afternoon driving up from Deltona, dog in tow, to see me. I briskly walked down the street from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications to meet them when they arrived in Gainesville. After quickly tossing them my apartment key, I scurried back to the college – my home away from home – to finish some projects before the night’s ceremonies.
The college held its annual awards ceremony four hours later.
I felt anxious as I tied my tie for the third time before we left the apartment. I knew I was getting an award, and yet, I was unsettled.
Why would receiving an award make anyone unsettled?
As a younger millennial, I’ve heard the accusations:
“Millennials are entitled”
“They all want a ribbon for participating”
“They’re lazy and socially inept”
I’ve spent most of my life hearing those accusations. And I’ve spent most of my life working harder to impress the anonymous voices hurling them toward me and my peers.
Hearing things like that quickly depletes any abundance of confidence you have.
Even while I stood on stage to claim the award – a list of my accomplishments read aloud to the room – I questioned why I hadn’t done more.
The fact is, I couldn’t have done more. Yeah, I don’t have a 4.0 GPA, and yeah, sometimes I’ve dropped the ball on an assignment, but I work hard to better myself and to help the people around me every day. And that’s enough.
That’s enough for me, and it should be enough for you, too.
As graduation approaches I want to share some advice to my millennial peers:
It is not about the award.
It is not about impressing others.
It is about working hard to better yourself.
It is about uplifting the people around you.
You have one life to live. Don’t gun for your next award – pursue your passions fearlessly instead.
In true Josh Ferrari form, I couldn’t end this post without saying thank you to a few people who have taught me to uplift those around me (read all about why it’s important in another Culpwrit post here).
Thank you, Ron Culp, for your dedication to mentoring the future professionals of the communications industry; Bill Imada, for recognizing the stereotype of the millennial and for working to change the conversation with the National Millennial Community; Kay Tappan, my mentor and PRSSA faculty adviser, for teaching me how to lead by example and take initiative; Natalia Tamayo, my best friend, for making me a better person and leader every day; and the University of Florida for cultivating my love for public relations.
Josh Ferrari is a senior public relations student at the University of Florida. He serves as president of UF PRSSA. After graduating this April, he will begin his career in Washington, D.C. You can find him on Twitter at @JoshFerrari.