Millennial bashing seems to be a new focus used by newspapers and magazines over the past year. It is common for some columnist or reporter of a generation preceding us, to string together some valuable, yet largely unimportant facts about how millennia’s spent too much time checking social media, and to little interacting face to face. They say that we want things to be immediate, and hate working to achieve goals. They’ll throw around words like lazy, narcissistic, and coddled, like they’re wet dollar bills on the floor at a hole in the wall strip club you’d only dare go to on a bet.
For arguments sake let’s keep this simple. Take all the boring statistics out and look at it from a purely human perspective. By most accounts, members of generation X seem to look down on millennials because they are impatient, don’t settle for jobs they don’t enjoy, spend too much time wrapped in technology, and feel a need to bring “unnecessary” change into the work place. After all, if something isn’t broken, why fix it, right?
It’s no secret the job market stinks. If you majored in anything related to politics good luck finding a job in today’s market, especially in DC. Graduate, find a stable job, get married, have kids, work till you hit retirement. That’s the formula, stick to it, no deviations. What then do you do if you graduate from college in the worst economic downturn since the great depression? How are you supposed to find time to date when you work 9 hours a day for little to no pay, at an “entry level” job (or unpaid internship) that you’re grossly over qualified for? That’s like giving a child a piece of string and saying “Here, take this in the corner and occupy yourself.” How are you supposed to raise a kid, when the only way to get ahead is to go back to school, to get a graduate degree, essentially adding another full-time job onto your already hated full-time job?
Fundamentally, something is off with our society and our views on education. The state of the US education system is important, but it is most certainly not the point of this. This is deeper, this is intangible. Think back to when you were a child. Think back to when your parents told you, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up. Why is it that when you reach a certain age (usually junior year of high school) that message changes? Why do we tell 17-19 year olds kids-,that largely haven’t experienced anything worthwhile (except having that first crush in the 5th grade that you were so in love with, that romance will live on forever) to pick a major freshman year of college, painting them into a box. The second it’s time to take your SATs you’re bombarded with the message of “Make sure you get a high score, because, these 5 majors are the fastest growing. If you want to make any real money, if you want to be happy, pick one of these.” Or “If you want to find a good job, you have to go to one of these prestigious colleges.” Ignore the fact that the cost of college tuition increases every year. Ignore the fact, that textbooks cost anywhere between $600 to $1000 dollars every semester. What’s that you say? There making another edition of this EXACT SAME book next semester? Meaning I’m stuck with this $200 textbook, that was written by my professor himself, which we didn’t even use? Awesome, just fantastic, really.
Whatever happened to doing something because it made you happy? When you were young and you and your siblings would make up your own plays using cardboard boxes for boats and wrapping paper tubes for swords, was that not the purest form of happiness you have ever felt? We as a society apply so much risk onto doing anything creative: anything that doesn’t have a structure; set pay scale; health care and benefits; and for what? So your son or daughter can become an accountant for some mega-corporation? I’m not sure if you’ve looked around lately but the world needs the next great play write way more than it needs the next great systems analyst. Our generation constantly gets labeled delusional because we all think we can change the world, that we all have some genius idea somewhere within us. Why shouldn’t we believe that? Are you telling me that it’s impossible for a 29 year old to create the world’s most popular social media website? We’ve seen black presidents, we’ve seen women become CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and we’ve struggled through a war, a recession, and sequestration. If anything, the idea that we can do anything we want to, is more important now than it’s ever been.
Take a look around you. The world is changing. If you have any hope of being competitive in the job market today, you have to have a minimum of three internships at respected companies. What do you do if you weren’t one of those selected for those exclusive internships? Most millennials are much more open to taking risks job wise, than Generation Xers ever were. Students now are even going as far as taking jobs out of the country in hopes of making themselves more marketable for future opportunities. Others are willing to sacrifice personal growth and space by moving back in with their parents to save a few bucks. Some are even creating their own jobs or engaging in their own projects with little to no income supporting them in hopes of creating a career that is an extension of who they are. This doesn’t sound like laziness. If anything, it’s the opposite. It’s calculated, it’s smart. It’s daring.
I’m not saying that we’re all super smart, hard working, perfect little worker bees. I’m sure there are individuals that underperform at jobs that they should be able to handle. That simple fact however is not exclusive to just millennial.
Why not take a risk? Why not shoot for the stars? After all, working for the government was considered one of the most secure jobs in the country until the unthinkable happened in the form sequestration. What do you do when your nation’s most secure job market fails you? Did anyone stop to think, maybe millennial were onto something. After all, we are the ones who someday will have to clean up the mess left behind by Generation Xers. Inevitably, the world is going to be turned over to our hands and we will have to lead. Shouldn’t we all find a way to help each other NOW, when it matters, instead of name calling and pointing fingers? Labels are a psychological crutch that we create to make sense of things, which is exactly what calling each other Generation X and Millennial is meant to do. At the end of the day, were all just people, trying to survive. So why are we making it so much harder than it already is?