Millennials have been catching a lot of flak lately; and it seems like every time I scratch myself, we're being blamed for destroying something new. There are a few things millennials wish the older generations understood — a topic recently discussed on AskReddit. You can't deny that we've received the short end of the stick as of late, as a number of less-than-flattering stereotypes follow us everywhere we go. Like what, you ask? Well, let's start with how millennials are lazy and have no work ethic. (False.) Or how we're vain, self-centered, and don't value relationships, largely because we're too busy valuing Instagram likes. (False!) How about all of the things millennials have killed, like chain restaurants, golf, handshakes, and vacations? (True. KIDDING. Still false!) It's gotten so bad that older millennials have come up with a new name for themselves to distinguish them from younger millennials: xennials.
To be fair, the term "millennial" does apply to a rather large age group. Some people consider millennials anyone born between 1977 and 1995. Others say it goes from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s or early 2000s. We haven't all agreed on the exact range, but we might be able to agree on something else: in all of these ranges, a lot changed really quickly.
I'd hardly say that a person born in the early '80s experienced the same life as a person born in the early 2000s. To lump them together would be unfair. This could explain older millennials' desire to branch off into their own group.
It could also have to do with the general consensus older generations have come to: that millennials suck. We've fired back and argued that contrary to popular belief, millennials aren't killing everything. We've tried to remind everyone that millennials aren't just stereotypes. We've pointed out that people can be vain and self-centered and lazy and obsessed with social media at any age. But it's largely falling on deaf ears.
So, let's talk about some of the things we really wish older generations finally understood.
1. Participation Trophies Weren't Our Idea
Some say we're spoiled and want to get a pat on the back for everything; but let's get real about who exactly was handing out participation trophies at our soccer games and dance recitals.
2. Many Of Us Work Like Dogs
Why? Because we have to. All the participation trophies in the world haven't made it easier for us to secure well-paying jobs, find affordable housing and health care, and support ourselves financially.
3. Life Is More Expensive These Days
Please see above.
As mentioned earlier, millennials have been accused of ruining vacations for everyone, because we tend not to use all of our vacation days at work. (Interesting how we can simultaneously not take enough time off and also be lazy...) Do you want to know why we work so much?
- We need more money, thus we work more.
- Oftentimes, we can hardly afford life as is.
- We're scared that vacations will be used against us.
- We can't lose our jobs, because #1 and #2.
Please understand that life ain't cheap. Please also understand that we're very driven, focused, and motivated for the same reason.
4. Getting A Job Hasn't Always Been Easy
It wasn't easy even as young ones. The job market hasn't been all that great, even if you're a teenager trying to flip burgers or scoop popcorn at the local theater.
5. College Tuition Is Constantly Rising
This one kills me, because we're making it increasingly harder for people to get a college education. A 2012 article made one shocking revelation: the cost of a college degree in this country increased 1,120 percent in 30 years. Furthermore, reports say the cost of college is increasing faster than financial aid — which is a whole other problem. Even if we do get the financial aid we need, we'll likely be buried to our necks in debt long after graduating because of it.
The takeaway is this: the system is kind of working against us here. Don't judge us if we maybe consider not going to college, or postponing college, or going to a community college that's much more affordable. And when we don't take those vacation days because we want the extra money to pay for college so we don't have to take out more loans, just leave us be. We're doing our best in a system with many unattractive options.
6. Accepting Any Position Within A Company Won't Always Get You Where You Want To Go
As cool of a story as this is (seriously), working you way up the corporate ladder isn't always an option. There are a lot of politics involved in getting a job, and in getting a really good job. Let's be honest here: if a business thinks you're only qualified enough to scrub toilets and scrape the gum off the undersides of tables, do we really think they're going to give you a desk and a 401k?
That's not to say this never works, but it certainly doesn't work all the time... or very often at all.
7. College Does Not Equal Wealth
Every industry is different; but more and more, that piece of paper we pay so much for at the end of our college education is being trumped by experience — or you at least have to have equal parts of both. Education alone often isn't enough. Employers want to know what you've actually done in the workforce. This is great news for people who have made time for work in addition to school, and bad news for people who were 100 percent dedicated to their education — something nobody should be punished for.
To insist that college is the answer to all your financial problems is both unfair and flat out inaccurate.
8. Some Luxuries Have Become Necessities
Yes, we're fortunate to have these very sophisticated devices. At the same time, however, they've become so available and common that many jobs now require us to have a smartphone and computer of our own, because they won't provide them. Don't think all we do is play on Instagram all day.
9. We're Not Selfish For Wanting An Amazing Life
This might be a bit harsh, but it needs to be said. It wasn't uncommon for the generations before us to make so many great sacrifices, because they felt they needed to in order to survive; but to insist that we're lesser of a generation because we won't do the same is hardly fair (or accurate). Yes, some of us forgo traditional 9-5 jobs to become freelancers and digital nomads, even if it means a smaller paycheck. Yes, some of us quit our jobs because they make our lives miserable, and then we just figure it out as we go along. Yes, we'll live in cruddy apartments so we have more money to travel.
You know what we're doing? We're trying to find a way to be happy and still support ourselves. Is that so wrong?
BTW, there are still plenty of us making the same sacrifices older generations did — just to be clear.
10. Rejecting Newer Technology Is A Reflection Of You, Not Us
This is a really insightful point, because so many people go out of their way to point out just how anti-technology they are. Yes, technology and social media are a double-edged sword — that goes without saying. But to deny it and damn it completely — along with the entire generation who is growing up with it — really just tells us that you're stuck in time, set in your own ways, narrow-minded, and refuse to learn new things.
11. We're Not "Killing" Things — Times Are Just Changing
Perspective! This is brilliant, and so true. Technology advances. Science advances. Society moves forward. The examples given here are great. Nothing sticks around unchanged forever, plain and simple. It never has! Otherwise, we'd still be getting around by horse and carriage.
12. We're Not All Delicate "Snowflakes"
This is so important, because millennials are so frequently criticized for speaking their minds. It's not complaining. Just because for older generations, it was considered normal to keep quiet about mental health and sexuality and reproductive rights and other things we're vocal about, doesn't mean it's right. Older generations do not set the standard just because they're older.