If I hear one more person say to me that I am a “spoilt millennial” that doesn’t know how to work hard and who wants an award for everything, I think I might scream.
The world seems to have decided that my generation (loose use of that word here; basically, I mean people in their late teens to early thirties) are useless, lost and incapable. Where the hell that idea came from, I honestly can’t say but I am really tired of it. So let’s have a chat about millennials and why everyone needs to lay off.
Firstly, millennials are not lazy or afraid of hard work. Actually, we are working damn hard all of the time. Here’s a newsflash for you: there are no jobs anymore. At least, they are getting harder and harder to come by in traditional fields. Millennials are being confronted with the task of re-making the job market, in a sense. Freelancing has become more of an option than ever – but it takes a hell of a lot of work and creativity to make it work. I have met so many young people with degrees, masters and PHD’s but no jobs. We have a challenge to face and that may sometimes make us look flaky because we jump around in our careers but we have to if we want to get anywhere. We’re trying and we’re creating new opportunities that didn’t exist when we were born – give us some credit.
Secondly, when you say we want an award for anything I cannot help but think: “well, yes, we worked hard for this and positive validation is good.” We are a progressive, tolerant, open minded generation (I like to think) who are trying to gain a greater understanding of mental health and how to live a happier, healthier, more productive life. Part of that for us means acknowledging when we get something right. We’ll acknowledge the things that you do right too, so don’t worry. “Toughening up” and putting up with harsh work and school environments just doesn’t sit well with us – and why should it? Life’s hard enough as it is so why shouldn’t we all just say “thank you” and “well done”? We’re sorry if you didn’t have the same experience growing up but let’s break the cycle shall we?
Thirdly, please stop judging all millennials just because you met one asshole who happened to be the right age group. Some millennials are assholes. Some ninety year old’s are assholes. Lots of people are assholes. You can’t judge an entire group by one, or even a handful, of people. I’m not judging your age group just because my neighbor was nasty. I am expected to judge you based on your behavior and your behavior alone. Kindly extend the same courtesy to me!
One last millennial myth that I’d like to dispel:
Yes, some of us are in actual long term relationships. Not all of us are commitment-phobes. We may be taking longer to get married and have kids but that’s because we have more choices now. We haven’t stopped loving other people. We haven’t stopped wanting kids. We just want options and we don’t want to make a poor decision just because everyone thinks we should be married and pregnant by thirty. Choice is good. And the people who are commitment-phobic? I’m pretty sure those people aren’t new – and at least now they have the option of staying single without society utterly ostracizing them (although we’re still working on improving people’s attitudes to that).
Millennials are not perfect. We have challenges to face and we don’t always handle them well. We’re human – that’s kind of how it works. In “A Moveable Feast”, Ernest Hemingway observed that “all generations are lost.” I think he’s right. Every generation has their challenges and makes their own mistakes. That doesn’t make them awful. And, while we’re here, here’s a few things millennials are getting right:
We are creating new career opportunities out in the world and online.
We are developing the crazy world of the internet, learning how to use social media in a way that enhances our lives.
Had last year’s US presidential election been in the hands of millennials, Trump would not have won.
We are campaigning to make our society more tolerant, inclusive and safe for everyone.
We are striving for diversity.
We are trying to understand minority groups and support them.
We are participating in the conversation about privilege, the lack of diversity in the media, LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights.
We aren’t afraid to speak up for our beliefs. We want to improve upon the world and we are not afraid to express our ideas about how to do it.
We acknowledge where previous generations got it right. We are thankful to the feminists, gay rights campaigners, civil rights campaigners etc. who came before us – we know that we would not be where we are without them.
We are not perfect but we are trying.
I won’t lie: sometimes I wonder if my generation is lost. But then I remember all of these amazing things and I feel so much better. We’re doing ok, us millennials. It would be great if you could stop writing think pieces about how useless we are and offer us your help instead. We’re here, we’re listening and we’re ready to welcome you when you do.