You may know us as millennials, Generation Y, or even Generation Me. We are born between 1980 – 1994 and are currently aged between 20-35. Now, I’m sure your aware of this, but Millennials have come to have a bad reputation. Even with a 15 year span in age, we are lumped together as a group and labeled with stereotypes such as lazy, entitled, selfish, narcissistic, and addicted to our phones. Okay so that last one may be true for some of us, but I think it is time to clear some things up when it comes to us millennial’s and put an end to some of these myths. I believe one reason we get such a bad reputation is not because we are “lazy” or “entitled” but instead because people are viewing us as lazy and entitled instead of realizing we are just different. We face different challenges than previous generations before us. For example, we are the most educated generation but are also extremely limited by unemployment and the amount of required experience for entry-level potions. We are also earning the least amount of money (lowest average income since 1980), but have extreme amounts of student debt. Basically, we are over educated and underemployed.
So, if you are one of the many who believe millennials are selfish, or if you’re a millennial yourself, here are 3 areas where I think millennials damn well SHOULD BE as selfish as they want to be:
BE SELFISH ABOUT NOT SETTLING FOR A MEDIOCRE JOB:
This is something I hear ALL the time, especially being a millennial in the Human Resources Field. It is often said that our generation are a bunch of “job hoppers” and that we jump from job to job much more than previous generations, always looking for something better. Well, I have two things to say to that stereotype. First, the stereotype is a 100% false, millennials do not job hop anymore then the previous generations before us, and rather than it being a trait specific to generation Y, it is instead a trait of being a young adult in your 20’s. According to this article on The Guardian, figures on job tenure for Americans in their 20’s are almost identical to what they were in the 1980’s.
The Second thing I have to say is SO WHAT! If we want to leave a position because another position or opportunity has come up that we feel excited about, then why the hell wouldn’t we?! We should be selfish when it comes to our careers, and what makes us happy. This is where the skewed stereotypes come in. For some reason the fact the our generation works to live, rather than l lives to work, makes previous generations think were selfish and entitled. Well riddle me this, why on earth would anyone simply want to work, pay bills, and die? What fun is that? I think we should be selfish when it comes to our careers and happiness, not just millennials but everyone!
As millennials, we are most concerned with finding a career that we are passionate about, and many millennials are working an unsatisfying, lower paying position, so they can also afford to pursue their passion on the side. Also, if we are stuck in a job that hardly pays enough for us to afford our student loan, pay our rent, and eat (which is usually the case) it is not because we are too lazy to find something else or aren’t educated enough, it is because we have to take a position in a job that barley gets us by, so that we can also intern on the side to achieve the required 50 years of experience needed to get an entry-level position in our field. Okay, so 50 may be an exaggeration, but it is usually 3-5 and how the hell do we get 3-5 years of experience when that is the requirement for the entry-level position!?
Lastly, We are also a generation all about self-development and personal growth, so another reason we may leave a position for another one is because our current position does not offer any training or development opportunities or they are not utilizing our full potential (again with the over educated + underemployed). Most of us are well-educated, technological guru’s, and if we don’t feel a company is utilizing our skills in the way they could be, we may feel under valued and even bored, causing us to look for a position that is more fulfilling. Maybe you think that is selfish, but personally, I love to learn and I am also paying 5 years worth of student loan debt, so you know what, I want to put those skills to good use and work with a company who will allow me to do so and also where I feel valued.
BE SELFISH ABOUT WORK-LIFE BALANCE:
Generation Y is all about enjoying life and everything it has to offer. For some that is landing the perfect job, for others it spending time with family and friends, and for some its contributing to their community, but one thing is always evident, we want to do what we love to do, and seriously what is wrong with that? When we are considering a career, we consider if it is something we are passionate about, as well as if there is flexibility and work-life balance. According to this article, millennials are more likely than any other generation to take a pay cut, pass up a promotion, or even change careers in order to get the flexibility or work-life balance they desire. This has become more and more important as family dynamics change, and for millennial parents who both work full-time, it can be a deal breaker if a company does not support flexible hours or work-life balance to accommodate child care, etc.
Gen Y has also grown up with the internet and social media all around us, meaning we are constantly connected. Some may view this as being “addicted to technology” but we also face the fact that our jobs now extend outside of the traditional 9-5 and more often than not, we are taking our work home with us via our smart phones or the company laptop. We are expected to answer calls and emails on the weekend, something previous generations did not have to deal with. So what one person may see as slacking off or bad work ethic when the new young worker takes a Friday afternoon off, may not be that at all. Behind the scenes, that young worker sees it as working smarter by bringing their work home Thursday to meet a deadline and keep a client happy, and then taking Friday afternoon off because they already worked their 40+ hours that week. Just because you don’t always see the behind the scenes work, doesn’t mean we have bad work ethic, we just work in a different way! So it may come off as entitled and selfish to one person when we expect a promotion, even though we want flexible hours or a day off in exchange for working at home, but we believe we are giving it our all and thinking outside the box to get the best results, and therefore we believe we are deserving of the promotion.
And one more thing, why is being selfish about finding a job that makes us happy viewed as a bad thing? Like I mentioned, we are working to live the life we want, so ensuring there is an appropriate amount of work-life balance is important to us. For example, we may take a lower paying job for more vacation time or flexible hours, as those things are of high importance to our generation. Now for those of you that think this is selfish, let’s flip it around, do you think ensuring you have time for your family, your health, and to enjoy life is LESS important then your job? Should you not be selfish when it comes to your family, health, and overall life fulfillment? See, when you open your mind, this is not selfish at all, this is the way life should be.
BE SELFISH ABOUT DELAYING TRADITIONAL MILESTONES:
Generation Y is known for delaying both marriage and having children to focus on “finding ourselves” throughout our early twenties and pushing the focus of marriage and children to our later twenties. It is no longer rare to first live with our partners before tying the knot, and also to even have children before marriage, something that our previous generations did not see quite as much. So maybe it is seen as selfishness that we want to focus only on ourselves for the first 5-7 years of our twenties (sometimes longer, sometimes shorter), but I think it is a very important step that previous generations missed out on. The person I am now compared to the person I was at 20-21 is a totally different human being. My values have changed, the things I am interested in have changed, and what I want out of a career, a relationship, and just from life in general have changed. So if I had of gotten married at age 21, not only would I have married someone who probably shared the values I had at 21, not the values I share now, but I also may have missed out on certain self-development opportunities and never grown into the person I am now, at 27. I also have a clearer idea of the type of person I want to spend my life with and what I need in a partner, which at 21 I was probably more concerned with dating a “bad boy” or something silly like that. Now of course this is never a one size fits all scenario, some millennials figure things out quicker and get married young, and have babies young, and that is great, and while I hate to put people into boxes, I am writing about the averages, and the current averages for marriage are 27 years old for women and 29 years old for men.
Another important thing to mention is, that while you may believe it is selfish that we are taking so much time to find ourselves and figure out our journey, it is not always about readiness. Another large factor that comes into play with why millennials are delaying marriage and children, along with houses and other large life purchases, is finances. As I mentioned earlier, we have the highest student loan debt, and some of the lowest paying positions, so yeah, not selfish, just poor.
OVERALL, WE ARE NOT SO BAD:
So there you have it, my 3 reasons millennials are selfish, and also why they damn well should be! Among the various negative stereotypes we get, we are also pretty bad-ass too. It is easy, as usual to focus on all of our negative qualities, and they make better stories and headlines I’m sure, BUT we do have some really awesome positive qualities too: We are selfish (see what I did there), driven, ambitious, goal-oriented, passionate, creative, tech-savvy, flexible, open-minded, we also have a sense of social responsibility and a concern for our environment. Now, just like the negative stereotypes, these will never actually apply to the whole gen Y population, were all unique human beings, and some of us are awesome and some of us are real assholes, BUT I just want everyone to keep in mind that we are not this terrible generation who is ruining the world. We may do things a little differently and you may not ever understand our obsession with selfie’s or hashtags, but I will never understand why mullets were okay, or why it was acceptable to pay women less than men. SO have an open mind, each generation should be learning from one another, not bashing each other because we do things a little differently, and if you take away anything from this, I hope it is simply not to judge a book by its generation, just because I am a millennial, does not mean I am lazy and self-absorbed. But anyways, I have to go take a selfie, drink a latte, and catch up on Netflix now, no just kidding, totally sarcasm, I am really going to clean my house and make dinner, thanks so much for reading! xo
What experience do you have with Millennial stereotypes? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!
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