I am a millennial. There, I said it.
The first step is admitting you have a problem.
But let’s be honest, we don’t have a millennial problem in this country. We have a stigma problem; we have a culture problem; we have a problem with everything.
I’ll say it a little louder for the people in the back.
You, my friend, are the problem.
We live in a culture today where we label everything and everyone. The “I grew up in this, and it’s what I’ve come to know and believe to be true” mentality. I’m not saying that makes it right, but it’s become part of our culture.
Gay. Straight. Bi. Trans. Male. Female. Agender. Genderfluid. Gender-neutral. Millennial. Gen Z. Gen X. Christian. Atheist. Muslim.
Remember when everyone was “goth” or “emo” because wearing all black became okay and people liked sad music? Thank you, Green Day and Evanescence.
And what in the Sam Hill is a VSCO girl? Can we not just say preppy anymore?
We’ve moved on from the millennials and into the new generation, which we obviously labeled, Gen Z. Yet, we continue to blame an entire generation of people for literally everything in the world—the millennials.
I’m a data person. I promise I won’t bore you with all the specifics and numbers, but let’s get honest, friends. Each generation has had issues, and when that generation ages and eventually passes away, so does the stereotype of the generation immediately following, and so begins a never-ending cycle of generation blaming.
Let’s take a look at today’s workforce; we are compromised of four generations:
>> Loyal (sometimes to a fault)
>> Great mentors
>> Either work really well or really poorly on teams
>> Resistant to change
2. Gen X
>> Great with work-life balance
>> Great revenue generators
>> Super judgy about their management
>> Just want to get things done, ultimately not great team players
>> Concerned with ethics
>> Concerned with social responsibility
>> Work independently (and prefer to)
>> Create their own methods
>> Improve processes (The ones that your Gen Xers have created so much revenue for)
>> Impatient in terms of career growth
>> Tend to work fewer hours on average
>> Not fantastic on teams
4. Gen Z
>> Great with tech
>> Too loyal
>> Rely on tech to solve problems
So, what does all that mean?
Because we have a workforce that’s compromised of essentially polar opposites, it means conflict.
It means that every generation has its positives and negatives. What if we took all boomers and labeled them as a bunch of cynics resistant to change, and don’t get me started on Gen Xers who half-ass everything just to get it done. Millennials are negatively labeled, and are at fault for everything. This occurs to the point that, some folks don’t even know which generation they even are.
I was once engaging in conversation with a co-worker who was voicing her frustrations to me about work, and not being able to keep people, or find loyal employees. She ended the conversation by saying, “all these millennials.” She had no clue that I was a millennial.
Social media has given us an amazing platform to voice our opinions. However, it’s also made us incorrectly label entire generations of people based on stereotypes, and reach an extensive amount of people who take what they read to be true versus research and formulate an opinion for themselves.
I am a millennial. But I am also many other things.
I am loyal.
I am independent.
I am a veteran.
I love working on project teams.
I enjoy working (even overtime).
I am committed.
I am a mil spouse.
I often think about new business ideas or ways to generate new revenue for companies.
And I am a mom because, yes, some millennials want a family, and, no, we aren’t just pressured by social norms.
I am a mixture of characteristics of our quad-generational workforce.
I politely smiled at the lady from my story above and replied, “In 2011, I was laid off from my first paying HR job. I worked for free prior to that for the experience. I worked several months bartending after that to pay my bills, which it barely did. Finally, I obtained another job, where I stayed for five years and worked my way up from hourly associate to a senior colleague—all through hard work and dedication.”
Her response after that is not incredibly relevant, it was something along the lines of, “you look so young for that.” I was, and I am, but I have goals I want to crush—and I’m doing it. I have a drive so fierce that nothing will stand in my way.
I have met more people in my life that are not millennials that meet the “millennial description” than those that are. I call these people millennialized. To me, it’s the idea that you don’t have to work for anything, you want everything handed to you, and you want to be paid generously for it. Oh, and by the way, if I can not work 40+ hours for that salary, that would be great.
It’s a makeup of all the negatives we have come to believe about millennials because our culture has told us this is who we are.
Some people become the things they blame millennials for, and that my friends, is why they are just as much the problem.