Tired of the Millenial shaming? Us too. How + why we're gonna prove the haters wrong
Editor's note: She's Amazing is proud to feature up and coming female writers. Below is a piece written by our newest staff writer, Julia Norton. She's a Millenial with a powerful message on generational stereotypes we all need to hear.
by Julia Norton
Time for a controversial statement: I’m a millennial, and I’m proud.
That’s right. Despite the op-eds and the eye rolls, the mudslinging and misrepresentation, I’m proud to be a millennial. And I want all of my fellow millennials to feel that same pride.
Believe me, I’ve read the articles that drag my generation’s name through the mud. Some of my favorite condescending headlines include:
“The Me Me Me Generation.”
“Help! My Parents Are Millennials!”
“Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World?”
And, “The Lamest Generation.”
I could go on and on, but the poor generalizations go beyond headlines. These negative attitudes about millennials have seeped into workplace culture, and they’re making it difficult for millennials to get ahead in their careers. The baby boomers who run the companies millennials are trying to break into are the worst offenders. They call us entitled and impatient, and complain about our idealism and our constant requests for feedback.
But here’s the truth: millennials are a misunderstood generation, especially in the workplace. So for all of my fellow millennials who feel isolated and disparaged, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. You’re not alone in these feelings.
You don’t have to be ashamed of your age, and in fact, you should be proud of the generation you were born into, and all its trappings. I’ll explain why we are the way we are, and why those things they call weaknesses in the workplace? Yeah, those are actually our greatest strengths.
We never knew when the rug was going to be pulled out from under our feet, and the national landscape changed forever.
This constant feeling of precariousness paired with the speed-of-light evolution and expansion of the Internet meant that our world was changing moment to moment, every moment. And we had to learn to adapt accordingly. It may make us seem mercurial, but in fact, we are a generation on top of every update, in tune with the hurtling pace of today’s world.
We also grew up with parents who told us that if we were willing to work for something, then we could have it. If you didn’t succeed, it was because you didn’t work hard enough. And for our parents, and their parents, that was a reasonable philosophy.
Paying for college required hard work, but if you were willing to work a part-time job, you could make ends meet.
Millennials haven’t had even a crumb of that cake. Higher education is universally expected in order to even enter an extremely competitive job market. (Oh, and good luck with those student loans!)
We get caught up in the ugly habit of blaming ourselves for circumstances that are often beyond our control.
Take our desire for feedback in the workplace. We're criticized for it (often by baby boomers), but that only comes from the nature of the Internet, where we can put ideas out into the world and receive all kinds of feedback instantaneously.
Not to mention the educational culture we were raised in was based on standardized testing and numeric grades — put in x amount of effort and receive y grade, and feedback from instructors.
We grew up under major supervision, and with the ability to get a big reaction from small actions — no wonder today’s workplace culture is surprising (and less tolerable) to us!
Millennials also want to gain different things from the workplace than any generation that has come before. We want to be innovators, and to work at a company that aligns with our values.
So what comes across as entitlement to baby boomers could be better described as ambition (and failed expectations that came from how we were raised).
Impatience is closer to eagerness, and naïveté is better described as a strong sense of idealism.
Mercurial? Try adaptable on for size.
The truth is, millennials are the future. We're going to remake workplace culture in the years to come, and reconfigure the traditional template of success.
So how do you, Miss Millennial, work with your generation’s sensibilities instead of against them? For starters, you've got a helluva lot to be proud of.
Next, consider your desire for fast feedback in the workplace. Try breaking down your day into manageable goals, and then give yourself feedback for how you thought you completed each goal. See if you can get feedback in collaborative work from your millennial peers — ask them how they thought you did, and how you can improve in the future (they may well ask you for feedback, too!). Working collaboratively to achieve a higher quality of work is a great way to make the desire for feedback work better for you.
Finally, don’t forget that your path isn’t necessarily going to look like your parent’s path, or your peer’s path (although your parents or grandparents may not understand). The journey you’re on is yours alone.
Remember to be patient with yourself, and believe wholeheartedly in your own potential. For all the disparagement we’ve faced, millennials are on the up and up.
So the next time you see one of those crappy headlines about millennials? Feel free to roll your eyes and throw it in the recycling bin. We’ve got a unique skill-set and all the drive in the world — and in the years to come, we’re gonna prove the haters wrong.
Julia Norton is a writer, vlogger, and social media obsessive based in North Carolina. Her dog is more photogenic than she will ever be. You can also find her at theneuroticnorton.com.