I am not entitled.
I grew up in a town that I knew I didn’t want to stay in. I had no control over where my parents decided to raise a family. However, I knew that going to college would be the only way I could possibly get out of there. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or where I wanted to live so I visited colleges, found one, then took my time deciding what career path would best suit what I enjoyed doing. My parents did NOT pay for my education. There was never any agreement that they would help pay for it either. I had student loans like the majority of these ‘entitled millennials.’ We aren’t entitled. WE’RE POOR and WE ARE IN DEBT! We need work!
I am not lazy.
During college I worked three jobs. Sometimes they would all fall on the same day. My day would start at 5 am serving coffee at a drive-thru Scooters. Then I would go to my second coffee shop and work until about 6 pm. After that I would go downtown to the bar that I served pizza at until 2 am. Everyone preaches about these ‘lazy millennials’ that don’t want to work and think they deserve a $20/hr minimum wage … what!? In fact, none of my ‘millennial’ friends fit this category. Half of them were college athletes AND worked jobs while going to school. Some of them worked more than one job as well! Let’s also not forget that college classes are not easy. I failed more than one and had to keep trying (and paying) for it.
I didn’t go to college to party.
Did we party? Hell yeah. But did we pay for our partying ourselves and not with mommy and daddy’s money? Hell yeah! College taught me that I was going to have to pay for my rent, gas, food, booze, books, all of it – myself. I had to figure out a way to do it and it made me a much more resourceful person. I know how to budget my money. I know all about credit and how much it sucks to dig yourself out of a credit card hole. I know what it’s like to completely fuck up and not be able to afford groceries. I figured out that I could sell my clothes to a store named Plato’s Closet and get cash on the spot for it.
No one helped me. My parents told me to work if I needed money. So I did. I got a job that paid tips as well as an hourly wage so that if I needed money I could pick up a shift and have cash immediately. I believe that college is much more than classes and semesters and grades. College is truly being thrown into the world and being forced to learn how to survive while sacrificing the majority of your day sitting in a class to receive a piece of paper that says you are worthy of a job. No one WANTS to sit through that and then go work the rest of the time they have outside of school. Going to college is a huge sacrifice. You give up four years of being able to work full time and make good money, to sit in a classroom in hopes that you will have less of a struggle to get where you hope to be. Did I live with my friends? Of course. How could I not? None of us could afford to live on our own.
I’m not the youngest person working my dream job.
I’m still struggling in the field that I finally prefer. I spent five years in an office that had nothing to do with what I went to school for. During those five years I did side work for groups/companies that I hoped to work for some day. I applied for jobs constantly and got rejected because I didn’t have enough experience. There was virtually no way to gain experience out of college if no one would take a chance on an entry-level journalism major. I found a way to write my resume in such a manner that depicted my office job as the best experience possible for my chosen career field and it eventually worked! Though the office job was boring, I learned how to be punctual, professional, and efficient at whatever I was doing. I learned how to work my way up the pay scale by showing responsibility could be handled and handled well. I learned to work with people I didn’t like.
I think people that didn’t go to college are brave.
I have always been a big dreamer. I have been striving for success ever since high school. College is how you specialize in your field. It is how you say to an employer, “Hey, this is my dream. I take this seriously and I spent four years learning everything relevant I could about the field that you work in and I want a shot at thriving here.” I applaud people who didn’t go to college and have become successful. You’re braver than I am and you took a chance on doing something the unconventional way and you made it. If you didn’t go to college and you make a great living, then you skipped the expensive part of getting there and have been making great money for four years longer than I have. There is no shame in either road and it’s about time we stop making a case that one is better than the other. Some people are phenomenal athletes without having to practice. Others spend summers in training camps to perform on the same level as that natural athlete. It doesn’t matter how we get there – it just matters that we do.
People say that it’s the millennials that are the world’s problem. We’re lazy, we’re entitled, we didn’t do anything but party in college and we think that we are better – that couldn’t be farther from my truth. Maybe it is true at Ivy League schools, but not here in the midwest. We know how to work and we work hard. I’m tired of the millennial stereo type and I will not identify myself inside this box because it just does not fit.