Hello. I’m a Millennial.
Or so they tell me. Before that they told me I belonged to Generation Me. Before that, Generation Y. But now, finally, everyone has agreed on the correct name for me and my kind: Millennial.
For a long time, I didn’t know how to feel about being a Millennial. On the one hand, it’s simply a system of classification, based on birth year. Everyone born has a birth year, and so everyone falls into a generational classification – before the Millennials was Generation X, before them were the Baby Boomers, before them, the Silent Generation. … I wonder how the Silent Generation felt about their moniker. I’d ask them but, you know, they’re silent…
On the other hand, the main reason I and lots of other Millennials aren’t super stoked to be Millennials is the abundance of assumptions that come with the territory. I’m sure you’ve heard that people born after 1981 are lazy, entitled, ungrateful, unreliable, self-obsessed and generally less skilled than earlier generations. If you haven’t heard that, go ahead and google it, I can wait. If you’re a Millennial I know I only have to wait about 5 seconds. If you’re older than a Millennial, it might take a few minutes. Millennials are faster with technology in general, it’s one of the things that makes us so lazy.
Before I wrote this article, I wanted to double check my Millennial status. I mean, I didn’t want to present myself as something I’m not. Maybe there’s more to being a Millennial, I thought, than being born after 1980. I’m a great speller, and yet I constantly misspell Millennial (I always forget the second N), so subconsciously maybe I knew something didn’t add up. I ended up taking a quiz testing my Millennial percentage, and it turns out my behaviors indicate I am 93% Millennial. You can take the quiz here if you like, it’s only 15 questions: http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/how-millennial-are-you
Anyway, after answering questions about my political and social views, my daily media intake – both social and non-social, and even my tattoo history, it started to sink in. I am a Millennial. And I’ve decided to embrace it.
So what if a load of Baby Boomers think that I use my phone too much and that it is alienating me from my peers. My parents (Baby Boomers both) use their phones much more than I do. My mom spends more time playing Candy Crush in a day than I spend playing video games in a month. I’ve tried to enact a no-phones policy at the dinner table, but inevitably my dad thinks of some picture he wants to share with me or some fact he wants to check. It seems to me that the current state of technology has baited everyone to increase their data usage, not just Millennials.
I used to resent the thought that “Millennials don’t work hard”. But then I remembered that every generation has said that about the one that follows it. I used to resent the thought that “Millennials are delusional” but then I remembered all the times I was told growing up that I could do anything, that I could be whatever I wanted. If that takes longer to achieve or if I look delusional living on my own terms and not necessarily for capital gain, that’s fine. Haters gonna hate. I really used to resent the thought that “Millennials are lazy, ungrateful, and unreliable.” But then I remembered I work 50-60 hours a week, I love the people around me and the opportunities they’ve given me, and I have great follow through. I’m not perfect, but I doubt the people criticizing Millennial behavior are perfect either.
I’m not saying that there aren’t lazy millennials, or narcissistic ones, or entitled ones, I’m just saying they don’t represent me. They don’t represent my hardworking, kind, intelligent, social-media savvy Millennial friends. I don’t concern myself with how other generations assume people like me act. And this is the advice I give not only to Millennials, but any classification of people that face prejudice. Don’t get bogged down with how people perceive you. Don’t let it change you. Don’t let it get you mad. Be an individual. And when you meet other individuals who think poorly of you, prove them wrong. Be the exception. It’ll probably take a while. Turning the tide always does. But at least, in the meantime, we can take really good selfies.
To the generation that follows mine, whether you come to be known as Generation Z, the Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, the Founders, the Plurals, the Alpha Generation, or the Homeland Generation*, there will be people that say you don’t work as hard as we do, that you undervalue human relationships, that you’re coddled and even further removed from the “real world”. There will be a whole slew of negative assumptions projected onto you. But not from me. I’m excited to meet you. Let’s take a selfie sometime, or whatever cool thing you all are into.
*These are all real names in the running for the next generation, time will tell what is chosen.
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