We are the topic of controversy, the target audience of tech and one of the most poorly understood generations out there. We’ve been raised by technology and have grown as leaders of the digital movement since birth. We listened to boy bands, made sweets in our Easy Bake ovens and watched endless episodes of Saved by the Bell.
We are millennials. And now, we are young adults, too. We are ready to enter the workforce and show the world what we’ve learned. But the question remains, is the world ready for us?
Ask any person over the age of 35 what they think of when they hear the word “millennial,” and I guarantee you’ll get some colorful responses. Sure, there may be some that offer generic terms such as “tech-savvy” or “young,” but many will resort to the common stereotypes widely associated with the generation. You will get things like, “self-entitled,” “spoiled,” “lazy,” and “narcissistic.” You will see disapproval on their faces and hear annoyance in their voices.
So, what did we do to deserve such a reputation? Answering this question is exceedingly difficult, especially considering the fact that no two millennials are the same. Those lazy, self-entitled kids we are so commonly affiliated with were born alongside some of the most brilliant minds of our time. We’ve done some big things in the 20-some years we’ve been on this earth, and we will continue to do so as time progresses. According to a study by PwC, millennials will form 50% of the global workforce by the year 2020 – yes, less than five years.
For those of you who find this statistic alarming, allow me to address your concerns. In many cases, there are innate differences between how people perceive millennials and how we really feel. There is a reason we’re given the stereotypes we are and many of them have significant evidence behind them, but just as with any social judgment, you cannot believe everything you hear.
What they say: “You are too sensitive.”
How we feel: With the growing paranoia over political correctness, individuals are repeatedly causing uproar over anything and everything that could be misconstrued as offensive. And yes, many of these individuals are millennials. But there’s a reason we have such a heightened sense of sensitivity. We’ve spent our lives learning about equal rights and why everyone should be accepted for who they are. Yet, we’ve witnessed social injustices that go against everything this country was built on. We’re not saying every complaint is valid. There are plenty of people out there who shout their opinions simply to fulfill their own selfish agendas, but the ones who are truly trying to change our world for the better should at least be given a listen.
What they say: “You rely too heavily on technology.”
How we feel: It’s no secret that the incredible inventions, upgrades and revolutionary discoveries that occurred over the last few decades are sometimes met with hostility from those who don’t feel they are beneficial. Sure, life did exist before the iPhone, and yes, people did keep in touch before Facebook, but instead of condemning these milestones as useless inventions that are destroying the social skills of future generations, we should be embracing all they have to offer. They all have their downfalls, and it is vital that each of us takes some time off every once in awhile, but we should not be criticized for using the tools we are given. Technology has done some amazing things. It allows us to stay connected to friends and families, quickly communicate vital information and offer our help to others in the drop of a hat. Social skills will always be important, but it is possible to know how to work an iPad and also hold an adult conversation.
What they say: “You have no idea what hard work is. “
How we feel: It’s inevitable that many of us have had it easier than our parents did in many aspects of life. Parents want better for their children than what they had – that’s just how it works. So, many of us tend to have that experience. But just because we didn’t have to walk through eight feet of snow to get to school or use a typewriter to turn in our essays, doesn’t mean we’ve never experienced hard work. Hard work comes in many forms and not all of them are physical. When it comes to education and intellectual abilities, the pressure to preform is everywhere. This pressure has existed for many generations, and few have earned it without a conscious effort to do so. We still have exams, we still work long hours and we still are responsible for our own success.
There are many valid arguments against millennials today, and we can’t blame people for being wary of the years to come, but we do deserve a chance. Save your judgments for later, and allow us the time to show you how we can improve this world for the better.