I’m a Millennial and I’m Not Sorry

I’m a Millennial and I’m not sorry. If you’re a Millennial, you don’t have to be sorry, either. I understand you might not feel this way right now. We’ll get to that in a minute.

So who is a Millennial? I would first like to acknowledge that sometimes the lines between generations gets blurred (because people are always finding ways to categorize each other). I’m sure you’ve heard all the buzz words: The Silent Generation, Generation X, Baby Boomers, Generation Y, Next Gen, and the list goes on and on. In a desperate attempt to find something substantial, I did some research. If you’ve ever researched this topic, I’m sure you were met with the same frustration: no one can agree. There are a few different theories someone could subscribe to, but for the sake of this article, let’s agree on this one: Millennials were born sometime after 1980 and most generations span about 20 years. So we’re talking about people born between 1980-2000, respectively. A Millennial is a member of “Generation Y” or the “Next Gen.” Before them, “Generation X” or “The Baby Boomers.” Before them, “The Silent Generation.”

Each of the generations before us contributed greatly to the society we live in. Neil Howe, a contributor to Forbes, wrote a fascinating series on the different generations. He accredits the Silent Generation, our elders, as being “economic anchors for America’s new renaissance in multigenerational family living,” (read his full article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilhowe/2014/08/13/the-silent-generation-the-lucky-few-part-3-of-7/#68c7f6831e54). The Boomers, our parents, have made technological advancements we depend on like the iPhone or Computer you’re reading this on (thanks Steve and Bill). I could go on forever about older generations, truthfully.

However, it has been my experience that older generations love to disparage the younger generations. I’m sure this is something the Silents and Boomers faced, and now it’s something the Millennials are facing, too. I’ve heard it all before: we’re lazy and don’t want to work for our accomplishments, we’re addicted to our phones, our adolescence is extended into our twenties, and I’m sure you could tell me more. I could give you some excuse, probably attributed to our upbringing (helicopter parents, I’m looking at you), for why some of my fellow Millennials are being perceived this way. I won’t, though. I’m not going to make excuses. Every generation has its positives and negatives, and Millennials are no exception. Instead, here is a list of reasons why being a Millennial is something you can be proud of:

Millennials now outnumber the Boomers and Silents

That’s right. According to the United States Census Bureau, Millennials make up a quarter of the population and outnumber the 74.1 million Boomers. You now have more societal and political influence than you even realize. Use it wisely.

Millennials are tech savvy

Millennials are finding increasingly new and exceptional ways to bend technology to their will. Whether it’s in the medical field or business industry, millennials are sure to make a difference. Our experience with technology and social media are not a handicap, it is a skill that can be used in the workplace. *Disclaimer: there is a difference between being tech savvy and being tech dependent. Dependency is not a good thing, but this is not generational. This is a human condition.

Millennials are more diverse

Also according to the United States Census Bureau, Millennials are more diverse, 44.2 percent being part of a minority group. The only generation to surpass us is the generation after us, who are currently around 5 years old. Progress, my friends.

Millennials are free thinkers

According to Pew Research Center, 50% of Millennials are politically and religiously unaffiliated. I’m not saying being affiliated is a bad thing at all, but it’s clear Millennials are more likely to question tradition and authority. This thinking can, and will be, useful in our futures.

Being a Millennial is a mindset

A fascinating article written by Art Papas for Fortune (see: http://fortune.com/2015/08/18/how-tech-savvy-millennials-are-humanizing-your-workplace/) tells us that the millennial mindset brings humanity back into the equation. We’re diverse, inclusive, and more personal. That’s something to be proud of.

Millennials don’t settle

Some people see this as a negative, but I’m choosing to see it as a positive. Millennials don’t settle for jobs they hate or activities that make them desperately unhappy. While I believe in starting from the bottom and working hard to get where you want, it’s also important to remember that life is about so much more than just working until you die. Millennials won’t settle for unhappiness, and I think that’s a good thing.

If you’re a Millennial, I hope you’re proud of the generation you are a part of, because we’re just getting started. If you’re a member of an older generation, I know you probably have some counterarguments and different experiences, and that’s okay. But don’t forget the mindset you were passionate about in your youth, and use your wisdom to help foster the response you want to receive.