June 25, 2014
I’ve had this strong dislike for the term “millennial” for quite some time now. I wonder why advertisers (and my parents) think I’m a 14-year-old in a 24-year-old’s body. Just because I enjoy my occasional grumpy cat GIF or curated list of 37 reasons why being a ‘90s kid is the greatest doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate great content geared towards myself and other 18-33 year olds.
After getting an 81 on the Pew Research Center’s “How Millennial Are You,” I decided to just embrace it and do some research as to why I have such a love-hate relationship with the term. There have been plenty of studies and articles about us millennials, and here’s what I found:
We’re unfairly judged
There was a TIME magazine article that I’m sure you all saw with the flattering subtitle “Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” To be fair, the feature eventually ends by highlighting how these perceived flaws can be what make this generation great, but I was still left with the feeling that most think we have the potential to be great but we don’t care enough to follow through.
Who wants to be generalized like that? As I continued my research, I found a recent Pew Research study on the topic that stated millennials are on course to become the most educated generation in America and that “fully a third of older millennials (ages 26 to 33) have a four-year college degree or more – making them the best-educated cohort of young adults in American history.” Doesn’t seem like an unmotivated group to me. Which also defends why so many of us do live at home at some point: millennials hold the burden of higher levels of student loan debt than the two immediate predecessor generations. Knock knock, mom and pop.
We have a plan and are major life-hacks
In the same Pew Research study, half say they do not believe we will have the same benefits in our retirement as current retirees. We’re an optimistic bunch, yet have no faith in the current system. Which is fine, because many of us have a plan! Millennials are a generation that is more “think before we do” and tend to plan “three to four steps ahead” during career moves and decisions.
What’s even cooler is we have the tools and resources to make almost anything happen. Anyone with an Internet connection can become the next great writer, photographer or social activist. In a matter of hours we can connect with the entire world on anything from current events to an embarrassing Kim Kardashian story. The fact that we spend 35 hours a week with digital media and our short attention spans are glued to checking smartphones hasn’t done us any favors, but I’ve come to the conclusion that people are just scared of the power we have right at our fingertips.
Tom Brokaw thinks we’re all right
And yes, I know who Tom Brokaw is. That TIME article that bothered me about my generation had a nice quote from the champion of the Greatest Generation characterizing millennials’ “cautiousness in life decisions as a smart response to our world” and that our “great mantra has been: Challenge convention. Find new and better ways of doing things.” With the current climate of the world today, we’re working to make things better and create a better life for ourselves.
After all this, I realized that there is a lot of food for thought here and still a ton of time for millennials to carve out their role in society. Most notably to me, every generation becomes the punching bag at some point or another. Maybe it’s because I’m such a narcissist that I’m taking it more personally. Excuse me while I take a selfie. #ImAMillennial