For years, I’ve denied being a millennial. I hated the label. I was SURE I wasn’t one until my husband pointed out that I was. Even he is.
In case you didn’t know, the millennial generation is considered those born in the 80s through to the mid-90s and 2000. The most exact dates I’ve found are from 1981 to 1997, but they tend to vary depending on where you look.
Millennials have a bad reputation. People think they are technology obsessed (I’m pretty sure most are), narcissistic (selfies for days…), lazy, high maintenance and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. In fact, this article on HuffPost discusses how many young Americans don’t want to identify as millennials, which I can completely relate too. Google “bad traits of millennials” and you’ll see thousands of results pop up. I know this because I googled it for this piece.
As more stories are published on how millennials are literally the worst, the more I cringe to be part of such a hated generation. I mean, I am part of that generation whether I want to be or not.
Most of the descriptors that people use to describe my generation don’t really apply to me or most people I know for that matter.
PC: Melinda Pack, Unsplash
That’s because many of us that are in the millennial generation don’t feel entitled and we aren’t lazy. In fact, there are plenty of us that are extremely hard workers. We listen and we respond, we try to read things carefully, we’re always looking for new ways to learn and grow, and we know how to disconnect and put our phones down (well most of the time.)
We remember a world before we had technology at our fingertips, and I mean that literally. Think about it. The iPhone came out 10 years ago. Since then, technology has exploded. Even before the iPhone came out and smartphones reigned, people were already carrying cellphones everywhere they went. Remember flip phones? Or the Nokia phone everyone had, and the endless games of Snake?
I got my first cell phone at 16 (Nokia 3310 for the win!) and I shared it with my mother, even though I kept it with me most of the time. Most of my friends were getting them when they started driving. Now it seems like people are getting cell phones younger and younger.
Many of us have been working since we were legally able to at 16, and in some cases, even 14. It’s taught us the value of money, how to save and budget. It’s taught us hard work, how to interview for a position and land a job even if it was at the neighborhood pizza shop or gift store, and it taught us how to interact with colleagues, accept criticism and praise when it was dealt, and how to provide good customer service, and deal with the public. It’s helped us learn what professionalism looks like in the workplace and how to interact with everyone from your equals to your superiors.
Most of my friends and fellow millennials bust their butts EVERY SINGLE DAY just to make a living. Which for many, is just enough to pay the mortgage/rent, buy some groceries and pay the bills. I know a good majority that work second, and even third jobs, just to get by. And people say millennials don’t work hard.
Personally, I have three jobs. THREE. I have my daily full-time job, my photography business, and I teach riding lessons once a week.
Side note: read this article from Inc. that discusses the bad habits that many millennials today have that make them look really unprofessional.
I’m not here to criticize the younger millennials, but rather point out that there are some millennials that don’t fit the stereotype. In fact, there’s a good amount of us who are the antithesis to the “modern” millennial.
If you’re a millennial, and you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking one of two things.
The first: “I’m definitely not a millennial. I’m not lazy. I hate selfies and I work hard.”
Great, that was my first thought too.
The second: “I’m definitely not a millennial. Millennials are lazy, and I worked for a few hours today. My hair was on fleek, so I had to take a selfie, but I don’t selfie all the time. I mean, that’s just annoying. And I work hard, but only when I feel like putting in the effort. My parents said I didn’t need to find a job right away after college/over the summer, so I’m not. I’m just going to chill by the pool for the summer and see what comes my way.”
If the first is you, and you were born between 1981 and 1997/2000ish. You are a millennial, whether you want to believe it or not. Embrace it, and let’s change the stereotype.
If the second is you, you exemplify the stereotype of a millennial. Work on changing that. You’re giving the other millennials a bad reputation.
But there are a few important things to remember, no matter what kind of millennial you are.
We all have a unique voice. It’s important to know and understand this, and for many of us, we just want it to beWriting heard. We all feel that we have something important that needs to be said, some more so than others. If you really feel passionate about something, or just need a place to write, start a blog. It seems to be the thing to do.
We are the first generation to see and use the various social media platforms that we’ve been provided. Hell, you can major in social media marketing now (I was the first graduate class at Southern New Hampshire University to get a graduate certificate in it!) Sure, some overdo with social media (Selfies every day, all day are overdoing it – no one needs to see you 24/7), but others are finding ways to raise awareness, offer support, and use the platforms for bringing about change.
We should “follow our dreams”. As cliché as it sounds, and it’s definitely the cliché motto of this generation, we set goals and we strive to reach them. I’m not talking about being instafamous either. That’s the narcissistic side of the millennial generation.
I’m talking about finding something you’re passionate about, whether it’s a career in law, owning your photography business or making blogging your full-time job. We work for what we want. We continue our education. We make our dreams and goals a reality.
We should take criticism, constructive or not, and learn from it. We need focus on how it will make us better. Well, most of us.
We should work hard and learn to be independent. A work ethic can be created, even if it’s something you’ve never had. Relying on yourself to live is a game changer.
Most importantly, we should remember that millennial is not a dirty word. There are plenty of millennials out there, proving day in and day out, that they are more than what their generational description says they are.
I know I’m trying too.
PC: Jordan Whitfield, Unsplash