Millennials comprise a generation that is constantly critiqued with words like "entitled," "lazy" and "self-centered". UT students are a microcosm of a generation, and it's easy to generalize college kids -- we look the same, talk the same and act the same.
But we are not the same.
The diversity of perspective here is astounding, and it is a diversity encapsulated in the spring 2014 issue of the Phoenix, UT's literary magazine. The latest issue features eight writers and artists who brought their unique style and appreciation of art to the literary table.
One of the first pieces in the magazine is Victor Medina's short story, "Eugene, Meet Leebo."
Medina, a senior in English, created this story to bring the realities of life as a young, gay man to the open.
"As a gay man in his early 20s, I wanted to write a story about a gay man in his early 20s," Medina said. "I wanted to hint at certain aspects of young gay culture: going out, drinking and drugs, sleeping with strangers, feeling remorseful, thinking too much.
"My main interest in writing the story was crafting a simple, yet complex story about a young gay man who feels lost."
In the story, Medina recreates the experience of youth through Holden Caulfield-esque Eugene and his search for belonging. Underneath our clothing choices and Friday night plans, this feeling of being out-of-place is one that college students share.
"(Eugene's) being forced in directions he's never been before," Medina said. "He is a person who doesn't know what he wants yet.
"For me, feeling stuck and lonely seems very human, very relatable and very 20-something."
To generalize students is to overlook them, but to look at every 20-something as isolated entities renders us unable to see the feelings that connect us together.
The ideas of the rebelliousness of youth are echoed in Brian Hooyman's poems "Invocation For My Muses" and "Quicker Road Trip." Hooyman, a freshman in kinesiology, started writing poetry after being dared to enter a high school slam contest.
"As a joke I was like, 'Hey, I'm gonna enter the contest and kick some butt,' and my friends were like 'No you're not, you suck at poetry,'" Hooyman said. "I was like, 'Oh yeah?' and then I ended up winning."
Some of this brash self-assurance is woven through "Invocation," with lines like, "My confidence will be my downfall and I will find solace in the insults of my friends." The poem brings to the forefront the writer's struggle between cynicism and idealism.
"Quicker Road Trip" takes on a more narrative style as Hooyman recounts a summer-before-college trip to see a friend who would otherwise spend his birthday alone. The trip served as a symbolic reminder of the transition between high school and college and all the emotions that go along with it.
"It's kind of about the process of driving down there and realizing, this is the end of something great," Hooyman said. "It's a sentimental look at the relationships we have."
The art in the 2014 Phoenix was created by Colby Sirbaugh, a sophomore in advertising, whose collage-esque pieces range from dark to sublime and inadvertently highlight the major themes in the magazine: youth and relation to the outside world.
In Sirbaugh's piece, "Punk," he superimposed two pictures of a friend who had a massive safety pin through his lip due to "drunken misjudgement."
"We went through a whole ordeal to try and find him a healthier alternative to the pin; finally, one of our friends found a spare nipple ring in her purse," Sirbaugh said. "What you see in this piece is that transition. I didn't have my camera. The piece is just two overlayed images I took with my iPod Touch. I'm often inspired by spontaneity and this sort of gnarly imagery is something that attracts me.
"I like to photograph subjects that some people may not want to see."
And if people don't want to see the idiosyncrasies of individuals in a larger group, well, you need only point them to the Phoenix.