Throughout her daily life, Traci Propst observes and interacts with what seems to be a strange subset of creatures.
These so-called millennials have immersed themselves in a technologically driven society but are old enough to remember life without smartphones. Indeed, before texting was popular, they communicated during school classes by passing paper notes.
“Although we love our technology,” the young author said, “I think there’s something to be said about having gone through our adolescence stage without it for the most part.”
Millennials also appear inclined to live at home longer even though they see themselves as independent, and they get married later even though an avalanche of dating apps is at their fingertips.
“We are the generation of divorce babies,” she said, “[so] we’re in no rush to jump into something we’re not entirely sure about. … We feel no need to settle.”
Propst, a Santa Monica resident, is a millennial herself. And her musings on the generation — who it describes, what sets it apart and how it impacts everyone else — are now contained in her first book, “The Millennial Hustle: Life Through the Eyes of a Millennial.”
Millennials have become known for their affinity for the digital world — the Internet, smartphone apps, electronic devices and beyond. But Propst thinks they find joy in reading physical books because it’s what they knew as children.
“There is still something to be said about the feel of a bound book in your hand — something you can carry around and feel like it’s a part of you,” said Propst, whose book will soon be available in electronic format. “I don’t see books going completely out of style anytime soon. Oddly enough, the people who usually ask if my book is available as an e-book are part of the older generations, the baby boomers and Gen X. I think they are the ones who love their Kindles and Nooks.”
A military-family product who traveled the world throughout her childhood, Propst has carved out a space in media by hosting webisodes and writing about the millennial experience. Many of her observations are based on events in her personal life and the lives of her peers.
Propst, whose book touches on dating and education as well as religion and the so-called quarter-life crisis, has lived in Santa Monica for almost a year after spending the previous two in West Hollywood.
She finds the coastal city to be an ideal destination for millennials because of its combination of professional opportunities, dining and nightlife options and access to the Pacific Ocean. She also noted Santa Monica’s walkability and diversity of transit options.
“You can go to a great dinner and rooftop lounge on a Saturday night and then spend Sunday relaxing on the beach listening to the waves crash,” she said. “When I’m feeling overwhelmed I take a long walk down Ocean Avenue, and somehow just looking up the coastline is the perfect reminder that it’s all going to be OK. This soothes a millennial’s anxiety.”
Contrary to what some of their elders may think, Propst said, millennials generally care about the world around them and want to make a difference.
“We’re a generation that wants to be involved, not just informed,” she said. “We want to take action. … Millennials will impact their cities in a very positive and forward-thinking way when it comes to taking care of the environment, community, healthcare and anything else we deem important. Making positive changes feels second-nature to us.”
Photo credit: Ashley T. Hughes