There has been a mistake in the perception of my generation, and I’m sorry to see that, but don’t worry! I’m here to help. I wanted to send this post out to help clear things up. Here a list of misinformed assumptions, along with my evidence to help educate.
Let’s get started:
1. That I’m an Entitled Brat.
No, I’m not. I’d love to be offended by this it but it just isn’t true. If I had to sit down and think about what an entitled brat is, I guess I’d say that it’s someone who thinks that they are going to succeed and get what they want without having to work for it. That doesn’t describe me at all! I got my first job as a newspaper boy when I was 11 years old because I wanted to have some of my own money. I got my second job working at a water park when I was 15 so that I could pay for my own gas and my own cell phone bill. When I graduated high school, I went to college and learned, worked, and helped myself understand the world around me. I had many jobs and internships so I could gain real-world experience before graduating. When I graduated college, I took the money I had saved to fly across the country to fulfill my own dream of living in New York City. I worked incredibly hard on my resume and other application materials and started my job hunt. Doing weeks of preparation, watching tutorial videos and listening to podcasts about “How to do well in interviews.” And I was prepared, and I did get a job. At a company that is full of absolutely brilliant millennials. When I did become employed, I wanted to share my experience and I self-funded and self-published a book about my journey as a college senior going into the real world. Nowhere in there did I feel entitled, and I didn’t feel like a brat.
2. That I’m self-absorbed and self-obsessed.
I am not. I post pictures of myself and I do have a blog, but I am not self-obsessed at my core. In fact, the book I mentioned that I self-funded and self-published is an example of me wanting to help people like me and future generations. I know that in many ways, I was only able to get where I am because of my position in the world. I was a white kid who could “have his own money” because I didn’t have to help with my family’s bills. Giving back is something that I am caring more and more about every day. I have automatic monthly donations to charities that I care about, and THIS week, I am volunteering my time at a local foundation for children. I also work to share my stories through social media as well as support the stories of my friends to create a better world for all of us. I have this blog in place so that as someone who likes to write, I can say things that others might be feeling, others might want to share. I’m only self-obsessed in that I recognize that I am one of many Americans who need a place in this world. I’m willing to fight and represent not only myself and my own problems, but women, minorities, and other groups who have been screwed over historically. I am not self-obsessed.
3. That I care too much about my identity.
Thanks, but that’s minimizing it. I don’t think that women millennials care too much about being women. I don’t think that black millennials care too much about being black. I don’t think that gay millennials care too much about being gay. As a millennial, I care more about basic rights that have been denied by previous generations to these groups. As a millennial, I’m trying to continue the civil rights work of the great minds of our nation’s past. If I didn’t have to fight for basic rights, I guess wouldn’t have to talk about my identity as much. I don’t care too much about my identity.
4. That I can’t keep a job.
Yes, I actually can. I have only had one job since college, and I have been there from age 22-24. I have been there for almost two years, and I don’t have plans to leave. You might be saying, “Two years? That’s not that long!” Okay, well that is the absolute maximum amount of time I possibly could have held a job as I am only 24 years old, so you may not be giving me much of a chance. I am part of a generation who is obsessed with learning, and who is obsessed with growth. In my life, I may change from job to job, but mark my words: It will not be because I “can’t keep a job.” It will be because I found something that matches me more, or pays more money, or moves me up in some way, shape, or form. Don’t come at me with that. I can keep a job.
5. That I’m “always on my phone.”
Yes, but I am willing to bet you that you don’t know half of what I’m doing on my phone. I wish I could gather a pie chart calculating the amount of time I’m spending “wasting time.” To help illustrate what I’m doing on my phone, let me just spit out a list here: I look things up when I don’t know what they mean. I get notifications pushed to my phone the moment that news breaks. I stay in touch my family whom I love even though I live all the way across the country. I look up ideas on design, and how to create the things that I want to create. I follow my favorite minds and writers through social media. I can tap into live political speeches from anywhere on my phone. It’s a calculator. I can easily book fitness classes and log my diet in my phone so that I can stay healthy and strong. It tracks my sleep patterns so I can make sure I’m awake and alert at work. I can check my finances, my investments, the state of my 401k from any park, restaurant, or train station. But over all of that, my favorite reason that I’m “always on my phone” is that it’s a notepad. I can take notes about what I’m thinking and what I’m seeing in the world, and I do. How often do you have an idea in one moment and forget it in the next? If you see me on my phone, the likelihood that I’m taking notes is pretty high. And yes, I can text my friends.
I can already see the comments. “Yes, Ben, but that’s you. You’re one of the good ones!” I will go ahead and reject this statement. I am surrounded by brilliant, and yes, I mean brilliant millennials every day of my life. The millennials I know from school and work, and the people I meet at events and at bars are hard workers. The friends I have who struggle to find a job are frustrated, and angry, but determined. When on the phone with them, they don’t complain, they don’t whine, they ask me for advice on how I have become employed. They use me as a resource to help them write an application piece. An inspiring majority of my millennial friends and neighbors are making their young lives work.
As with any group that you hate or plan to discriminate against, I encourage you to look further into why you feel this way and learn about us. History teaches us that it’s never really valid when one group of people hates on another group of people. Don’t generalize me, don’t hate me, and don’t try to block my success. You’re right when you say that I am our nation’s future. So invest in me and support me. Build me up and don’t knock me down. I’m not weak and I’m not voiceless. I’m strong and to be honest, I have success in front of me and I don’t expect it to be handed to me.
I am hard working, determined, and well spoken. So are my friends.