I understand the need to categorize the behaviors of my generation, snatch all of our tweets and texts and seal them into a little time capsule labeled, Millennials. I really do understand that my generation encompasses a certain set of characteristics that sets us apart from previous generations, and that we specifically make our decisions as a result of our resulting outlook on, to speak broadly, the world.
But every time I am called a Millennial, I am somewhat hurt.
Why? Though it is not outwardly offensive, as a group, we are associated with social mistrust, narcissism, and materialism. I dislike compulsory membership to a group that is considered to be lazy and pessimistic. In Mindy Kaling’s autobiography, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), the writer and comedian dedicates an entire chapter to “Non-Traumatic Things That Have Made Me Cry”, one of these things being “depressing zeitgeisty magazine articles about relationships”. She goes on to say that these articles support the negative thinking that we as a generation supposedly maintain. Kaling writes, “The article makes a big thesis statement about relationships, like, say…how if you’re a woman over thirty-five you should just settle with whatever guy is halfway nice to you…” (168). I am familiar with articles of this nature, ones that create a negativity for “Millennials” as an attempt to decipher our thinking, and I agree with her opposition to them. To paraphrase Kaling, we initially might rejoice in the shared mindset of, “yeah, that’s what I’ve thought in the back of my mind the whole time!”, but eventually are saddened by others’ lack of faith in Millennials to think positively. We are rather left with a pessimism that has been thrust upon us.
For me, it is the saddest that other generations have lost hope in mine, and have lumped us all into one unenthused bundle of iPhones that only loop John Mayer (because who would ever want that). I feel as though my individuality has been compromised when I take out my phone to write a text, and feel the judgment of adults who believe that I’m wasting those ten seconds of my life with which I could have been sending a satellite into orbit for NASA. The fact of the matter is this: we have been afforded a wealth of technology that helps motivated individuals to perform efficiently. Yes, several members of Generation Y might be absorbed by technology, but don’t underestimate all of us just because some of us spend too much time obtaining the high score on Flappy Bird. Some of us might just be really damn good at it (this might be the narcissism they were talking about—just kidding).
If anything, I urge us all to look at how we are being perceived, and how we are evaluating others. Generation Y, show some awareness for those around you. Everyone else, have some faith. Let us teach you what we know, and allow us to learn from you. There is an underestimation of everyone’s ability to collaborate to create immense progress. One of the biggest misconceptions about millennials is that we are unwilling to learn. In fact, a frequent complaint I hear at Hopkins is that a class “isn’t teaching me anything”. We know you want to teach, and I assure you, many of us want to further our intellectual growth. There are still scholars out there.
I suspect that future employers will initially doubt my intelligence and ability to perform efficiently due to my millennial reputation. This means that I am preparing to enter the job market with the drive to work harder than any generation before me in order to prove my worth. I am not sure how to be “ready” for that, but if I can be happy about any part of my membership in Generation Y, it’s that we are all in the job hunt together.
And if we can’t find jobs, at least we have the Internet to keep us warm!
Kaling, Mindy. Is Everyone Hanging out without Me? (and Other Concerns). New York: Crown Archetype, 2011. Print.