To All 20 Somethings, I Refuse To Apologize For Being A Millennial, And You Should Too

Flickr/See-ming Lee
Flickr/See-ming Lee

I’m one month from turning 23 and while I’m super jazzed to greet the year in which Blink-182 claimed no one’s going to like me, I’m sad to see 22 go. 22 catapulted me into the messy post-graduate experience that leaves you shell-shocked, light-headed, and overall rattled head to toe.

Not even a year ago, I was standing on a chair at graduation, cheers-ing with friends to a future of endless possibility. Lately, I feel like I’m the chair. Better yet, I’m under the chair, and my former self from graduation day has collapsed on top of me after slipping on naive optimism and a puddle of Fireball.

I do this really cute thing where I like to analyze every aspect of my life, so lately I’ve been trying to pinpoint what exactly it is about being twenty-something that makes me feel like I’m in that Greek myth where the guy eternally pushes a rock uphill, just to see it roll back down. Wikipedia says his name is Sisyphus, not to be confused with syphilis.

While there are many reasons for this defeated state, each can be encompassed in one universal truth: I am a millennial, and for that I am asked to apologize.

I hear it all the time. Entitled, lazy, over-exposed, iPhone-obsessed, even “basic” – all synonymous with the term “millennial.”

It comes from every corner of a twenty-something’s life; parents, bosses, professors – they describe this new generation, my generation, as one composed of do-nothings who
have settled on blind mediocrity.

There is one accusation that comes up when discussing millennials that, in my opinion, is spot on. We have it “easier” in the sense that many of us have access to technology in a way no generation before us could have imagined.

We find ourselves somewhere between teenage wasteland and mortgage payments, granted a network of communication begging us to share our human experience. Many of us are lonely, most of us are sleep-deprived, and whether it’s a bagel or life of fulfillment, we’re all craving something. We check Twitter feeds, utilize hashtags, click, and like, and share…and we are told to “get off our phones.”

Naturally, there is a time and place for our iPhones (or Androids for all you brave souls out there.) I’m not advocating for a world where we are so immersed in our electronic devices that we stop experiencing our lives as they unfold before us – far from it. I’ll be the first to admit that our constant exposure to media has led to a desire for quantity over quality, the orange tab that pops up when you refresh your Instagram, and a retweet by someone with more followers than you.

A network where everyone seems to be saying, “Look at me, I’m more alive than you today.”

Note to self: Don’t post too many pictures when you do Bonnaroo in June.

However, and this is a big however, I am in the business of media and communications because I believe these new mediums of technology have provided the gateway for millennials to be the most innovative, forward-thinking, productive generation to date. So, the apologies stop here. I will no longer hide or feel ashamed of my millennial status like it’s the D in pre-calculus I received my junior year of high school. Being linked in, or LinkedIn, is a wonderful thing, and those holding a desire to be new age, cutting edge, or down with the times are a dying breed, I can promise you that.

There’s no denying this ambiguous time in life is still going to be scary for us millennials. These years of “figuring it out” are horrifying because, well, if you want to make God (or your parents) laugh, tell him your plans. Embracing and utilizing your age, though, might just lessen the blow and ease the growing pains.

To the likes of Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham, I am starting to display my 1992 birth year the way my grandpa used to show off his grandkids to his friends at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Keep your head up twenty-somethings, I think we’re gonna be #JustFine. TC mark

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