I had hardly read past the firetruck-red cover of Jean M. Twenge’s book when I felt the alienating feeling of defensiveness flush through me. The title itself was enough to put me on edge. iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy– and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood and What That Means for the Rest of Us. “Is Dr. Twenge really suggesting that I am less rebellious, less happy, and less prepared for life?” I scoffed to myself.

Pushing aside my initial reaction of opposition, I kept reading to learn that, yes, Dr. Twenge is including me, including all of us, in this ominously negative ensemble called iGen. “They were born after 1995,” Twenge writes. “They socialize in completely new ways, reject once sacred social taboos, and want different things from their lives and careers. They are obsessed with safety and fearful of their economic futures, and they have no patience for inequality based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. They are at the forefront of the worst mental health crisis in decades… Teens are physically safer than ever, yet they are more mentally vulnerable” (3). 

As she unpacks her data drawn from more than 11 million respondents and over multiple decades, Twenge explores the psychology of the iGen’er in various contexts and caveats. She dives into the lifestyle patterns, behaviors, attitudes, and the implications of the internet and social media on mental health. She appeals to parents, educators, and employers to understand us despite generational divides in order to interact with us successfully. 

Though there is much merit in the pursuit of understanding us, an arguably more pertinent issue is that we understand ourselves. Hope College’s student-led initiative Press Pause is here to give us the tools to do just that. Based on the 2017 American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (ACHA NCHA) survey data, Press Pause plans to bring students information regarding their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. 

To kick off the second year of the Press Pause campaign, you can expect blog posts from both myself and wellness experts, print materials throughout the campus, and a new common language about what it means to “press pause” and take care of yourself. Here’s a sneak peek into the Fall 2019 Semester: 

September: S.M.A.R.T. Goals

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

November: Sleep

December: Stress Management

As you gear up to come back to campus, give yourself a moment to “press pause,” pay attention to your head and your heart, and feel energized for this new year to learn and grow. Let’s show Dr. Twenge that we are completely prepared for this life because we are intentionally practicing what it means to “press pause” every day.

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