By Jennifer Hacker
It seems to me that every other day my Facebook news feed is cluttered with articles berating the millennial generation. Sites like The Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and Thought Catalog are common offenders, frequently needing to weigh in on how Geny Y is messing it up.
Not only are we seeing an influx of news around this generation but we are also seeing people across all ages chime into the conversation. It would be easy to think that the oldest generations are leading the charge in shaming millennials but I’d argue that’s not the case. What I’ve found to be true is that millenials themselves are equally apt to berate their peers as their elders.
As a member of this particular age group, I’m especially tuned into the commentary. I have no shame in admitting that I’ve been lured away from my work to read the millennial-bashing articles filling my newsfeed. Who wouldn’t be with the provocative headlines that are served up? And don’t think it’s beyond me that this post is soon to assume the same position. That however, is the point in adding yet another headline to the queue.
As a millennial, I’d like to cut our team a little slack. I am not demotivated by the articles that suggest we’re the worst generation to come along. In fact, they only continue to support my feeling that we’re quite the latter. In defense of our generation, I’d like to rework the most common criticisms we receive and share the version that they translate to in my ears.
- We’re told we’re narcissistic. I say we want to share our lives.
According to the National Institutes of Health, millennials are nearly 3x more narcissistic than those 65 are older. This has been perceived to mean that we are self-involved and more concerned with ourselves than with anyone around us. In reality, if you look at what’s driving this so-called narcissistic behavior it’s a desire to share our lives with others. Yes we’re snapping selfies and posting them to Instagram but it’s because we want to be an open book. We invite criticism along with the praise. Point is that we want our friends and families to be with us through every part of our lives and equally we want to be involved in theirs.
- We’re told we’re we think we’re entitled. I say we know what we want.
One study reported that 40% of millennials believe they deserve a promotion every two years. Anecdotally we’ve been called out for going straight to the top to make our requests. As a result of our candidness, we’ve been told we think we’re entitled to honors we haven’t earned. What we’re not credited for is our earnestness to achieve and our sound belief that we are capable of whatever we put our mind to. We know what we want and we’re not daunted by the journey it will take to get there. We embrace challenges and ask for help along the way to get us to our goals.
- We’re told we’re lazy. I say we’ve learned to work smarter not harder.
The Families and Work Institute cited that millennials are 20% less likely to want to take on a job with greater responsibility than those who came before them. The statistic is meant to indicate that we’re unmotivated to work hard. If you take a look at how our generation has grown up though you’ll see that we’ve learned that hard work isn’t the key to success. Smart work is the key. We’ve seen and embraced the power of technology and are using it to bring to life ideas that make our lives and those of every generation around us better.
- We’re told we’re too plugged in. I say we’re connected.
How many times have you heard the narrative that we are too absorbed in our phones to notice the world around us? We’re chastised for being constantly plugged in and ridiculed for not living life outside of a screen. Those screens that we are so tuned into however, are how we connect with the world. Texting, tweeting, posting, and Instagramming allow us to build and strengthen relationships easier than ever before. Being plugged in doesn’t mean we’re tuned out but rather tuned in.
- We’re told we don’t respect authority. I say we’re leaders.
Millennials have a bad wrap for not supporting big institutions. Nearly 1/3 of us are unaffiliated with a church for that reason though we do have a belief in God. We are skeptics and disbelievers of traditional conventions and the discomfort that brings about has lead people to see us as disrespectful. In fact, it’s not disrespect at all that drives our actions. We don’t see a need for authoritative bodies because we believe in our own leadership. We value the part that every person can play in improving our world and we aren’t content to sit on the bylines.
- We’re told we’re not loyal. I say we value experiences.
It’s been quoted that the average millennial can expect to hold 20-25 different jobs over the course of her career. At that pace we’re expected to stay in a single role for less than 3 years. Our quickness to move into new positions has us labeled as fickle. We’re reminded how our parents and grandparents stayed with their employers for the length of their careers and this became a sign of their loyalty. Millennials however, have placed a value above loyalty and that is of experience. We see change as our way to grow and improve ourselves in a way that will ultimately improve our work and our happiness.
There are two sides to the story on millennials. There’s the side that is most often reported and then there is this version. It’s up to you to decide how you want to interpret the studies and the stats. Embrace the criticism or stand proudly by it. Which side do you take?
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jennifer Hacker now calls Venice Beach home. She has funneled her passion for helping millennial women find their direction and pursue their passions into her blog The Single Diaries. When she’s not posted up at a coffee shop working on the site you’re most likely to find her out for a run, riding her bike along the beach, or hiking with friends.