Why millenials are going to change the world
NEWS FLASH, I’m a millenial. I mean, at least according to some definitions of what a millenial is. I was born in the 80s, I grew up without internet until about late middleschool/highschool, I still had a landline until I was 23, didn’t get a smart phone until I was 26, Facebook didn’t exist until after I was old enough to drink, and I’m now officially in my thirties. So, I’m on the older edge of millenial-ness, but since the articles about millenials came out while I was still firmly in university, I’ll let the definition stand.
But what I’ve never understood is how the negative and damaging stereotypes about my generations can be accepted at face value, when they are SO not the case.
Here’s what I know.
I DID graduate right into the recession in 2007. And by the time I graduated, both my parents were laid off from their full-time jobs in one way or another. It was a shitty time. Even though this didn’t affect my finances as I paid for my own school, it definitely affected my perception of the working world and my idea of job security. Add a big student loan debt over my head and you can definitely say I played it safe because it was a scary time. But that time is over.
People have been writing stories about millenials when most of us were still in high school, much less graduating from university. So, I’ve literally never understood the stereotype that we were entitled, whiny, layabouts just waiting for somebody to give us a paycheque for mediocre work. So many of my friends, like me, spent their twenties pursuing a career while also holding down several jobs. Jumping from contract to contract, networking, reskilling, getting new degrees and trying new things. I had more jobs under my belt by the age of 24 than my mom had in her entire life. This is the new reality. Millenials are born hustlers and I was one of them.
How did millenials get the reputation for being difficult in the first place?
I think it was borne out of people being intimidated by the fact that there were so many layoffs happening at the time of our ‘rising’, that their employers would be willing to dump skilled workers for younger ones. And it’s true, they totally did. Our parents were sold out by their counterparts, or their elders, often simply for budgetary reasons. This is a problem but it was never ours to begin with.
So what happened? Millenials were brow-beat and made to feel insecure about our skills, told we are too needy, too desiring, that we want too much. You couldn’t throw a stick without hitting 10 think-pieces about how terrible our generation was. So what did we do? In the late 00’s and to this day, many millenials discovered that to get anywhere in the world, they would need to forge their own path. Whether that meant travelling the world, teaching overseas, volunteering, moving to a new city for work, pursuing a musical career, or starting their own business, the sky was the limit! A steady job with a long-term employer, we were told, was not likely to happen in our lifetime anymore, so we accepted it and moved on. Now we’re being criticized for moving around too much? Please.
I’m not even a decade out from university and I know friends who are literally changing the world, changing the way we eat, creating beautiful art and music, and running businesses that employ not only themselves, but others. We were told from up above to be ‘grateful’ and humble, when really those statements that was borne of fear of our talents, innovation and persistence.
Sure, there are absolutely the ‘entitled’ millenial workers who come and go, demanding more than they earn and expecting raises and promotions for simply doing that bare minimum. But isn’t that true of every generation? My millenial-heavy workplace right now is one of the few places I’ve been employed that doesn’t have some lazy coworker benefitting from the work of others.
So what do we do with our skills and talents we’re told to be modest about? Millenials disrupt. Millenials change. Millenials reject the status quo. They have their kids, marry their partners and buy their houses later (or not in that order, OR NOT AT ALL). They are on track for saving a million dollars for retirement or just choose to RETIRE AT 33. They move to a cabin in the woods. They live in a micro-unit in New York. Whatever they do, they will find their way to navigate a life is EXTREMELY different from their parents with regards to technological innovation, the dangers of religious fanaticism, the overwhelming influence of war, ecological devastation and a magnificant shift from the status quo. We so easily forget that every generation is clearly marked and defined by their times.
I think my main issue with the criticism leveraged against millenials is that I think it HAS had a negative effect on some of us. Now, at 30, I’m finally making a salary that I think is commensurate with my experience and what I offer to a company, and I’m AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT IT? I have friends who are wildly successful and to hear them talk about it, are no different than anybody else. Why is that? It’s probably from years of conditioning that said we were LUCKY to be employed. That we were LUCKY to have the skills we did. That we were LUCKY that we found employment in such trying times. That we didn’t get anywhere due to merit and that we should downplay our success to make others feel better. That we, as millenials, should sit back and accept what the world has to serve us because the guys upstairs are afraid of what I could do next.
Forgive my millenial cockiness but…