I am categorically a millennial. And I say that unapologetically. I was born on the front end of the generation but I refuse to shunt the fact. Sure, I still remember the days when parents would send us outside to play as opposed to tossing a video game controller in front of kids. I used an abacus before using a calculator. I was taught to write in cursive and to do library research using the Dewey Decimal System to find hardback books. All millennials were not born with an iPhone 6S or Galaxy Note 4 in our hands. To think so speaks to your inability to distinguish a Millennial from a member of Generation Z.
But I digress. I am here to address the issue that those in power have with members of my generation. So often, we hear that we are a bunch of impulsive, impatient, irresponsible, irreverent, impetuous iPhone-attached imbeciles. Well, let me address a few of those adjectives and the one noun.
Impulsive vs. Decisive – We are not going to sit around and waste time. If we are single, with few responsibilities, we are going to jump out on a limb and leave a role that we hate to find one we love. Does this have an adverse impact on our résumés? Yes. Does it have a favorable impact on our health? Again, yes.
Impatient vs. Time-conscious – We know that time stops for no one. We cannot avoid death. Everyone’s time will come and no one knows when it will. So, if we see an experience that will improve our lives, we are going to take it. Don’t think we don’t weigh our options. We do. Sometimes, it makes more sense to stay rooted somewhere. But if that somewhere doesn’t fit into our long-term goals, we will quickly step out for that experience that will help us get closer to our goals.
Irresponsible vs. Free – If you have dependents, you have to do certain things. But, if you don’t, we believe in living. So many of our parents opted out of following dreams because they believed that corporate America would take care of them in the long run.
Irreverent vs. Aware – We don’t take stuff at face value. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean we’re going to listen to you. I’m sorry but there are a lot of old people who are spewing nonsense as opposed to wisdom. We look to discern one from the other. So, when you say, “Black doctors aren’t qualified because they’re black,” (and I’ve heard this from an older black person), I’m not going to hold your opinion in high regard. Being an elder doesn’t always mean I should respect your thought process. Some people lived long lives not because they did right for so long but because they weren’t in the wrong places at the wrong times. But that doesn’t make them any less wrong.
Impetuous… It means the same as impulsive but I liked the alliteration.
iPhone-attached vs. Cultured – I will say that our addiction to technology is a problem. It hinders many of us from being able to interact on a face to face level as well as we ought to be able to. But, on the flip side, it allows us to connect with people with whom we would never meet otherwise, ultimately making us more cultured without having to travel as much. I could meet a friend in Taiwan and learn about his day to day life just by e-mailing/texting back and forth. That used to require finding a pen pal (yes, I had one of those back in 1994) and waiting a month for correspondence between the two of us.
Imbeciles vs. Creatives – Let me preface this by saying every millennial isn’t a “creative.” But a lot of us are much more in tune with our artistic or entrepreneurial side than generations that have come before us. Don’t speak down on us because we think differently. We see the world differently because we were exposed to more at a younger age than our predecesors. How dare those of you who allowed us to be exposed to that hold it against us now that we are thinking like 40 year olds while in our 20s? That’s like giving a kid a lifetime supply of ice cream and then getting mad when, 6 months into that lifetime, the kid has eaten half of it.
So, stop hating on us (I think this is the first time I’ve used that term on The Reader). We’re young professionals who saw where our Baby Boomer parents slipped up and we’re working to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes. So, when corporate America starts investing in us, maybe we can show the same loyalty that our parents and their parents before them showed. But, until then, oh well. We’re going to be Millennials. Proud, bold, and unapologetic.
Make professional development a priority.