For most of my life, if I’ve ever moaned about being tired or stressed or overwhelmed, I can almost guarantee that someone around me responds, “Bloody Millennials.”
We’re a generation raised by parents who lived in a different world to us, and the clash of lifestyles is resulting in some very unfair stigmas being attached to us in the workplace and beyond—most of which are simply untrue, and we’re sick and tired of hearing them.
We are entitled
I once watched a colleague of mine get verbally roughed up by a customer. After some talks with management, the company decided to side with the aggrieved customer. My colleague immediately handed in his resignation and threw his apron down on the floor for dramatic effect. I later heard management talking about how this person just “wasn’t cut out for the job.” I must have missed the line about happily taking abuse from customers in the contract.
Greg Weiss, a HR Expert, notes that on the whole, Millennials struggle to make it past the 90-day mark in a new job due to what he calls “own goals,” including poor performance and absence. If you’re fired for either of those, you likely had it coming.
But he goes on to deliver this low-blow: “Younger people will typically say, it’s not as great as I want, not as exciting, you’re underpaying, or frankly at the Millennial end, they’re just lazy, and I mean that genuinely.”
Hold the fucking phone.
The difference in my generation is not that we expect too much, it’s that we expect the necessary requirements: good working conditions, fair pay, employee rights and acceptable working hours. And what’s wrong with seeking a job that’s fulfilling? To further debunk this myth, research shows we stay at jobs longer than the previous generation did at our age.
What’s changed is that we are far more comfortable leaving when the things aren’t right. It’s not our problem that previous generations were happy to accept malpractice as normality. The typical ‘do this task, put up with this bullshit, hope you get promoted’ approach to work is dying with our generation, and we should all be thankful for that.
We are lazy
As touched on above, it’s a common thought that the Millennial generation have a hard time getting their ass off the couch. As if this needed reiterating—laziness is not associated with the year you were born.
I’d argue the opposite. My own career has been nothing short of hard work from day one, from founding a business to becoming a writer. I have friends who have built their own companies, become famous writers, or started their own bars and restaurants. Even those around me who have chosen something less entrepreneurial have all made a success of their 9–5 careers in big banks, schools, and private firms, or work tirelessly in so-called ‘lower-level’ jobs to make ends meet.
In short, I don’t know a single lazy Millennial.
Another notion is that our generation is getting lazier because of our reliance on convenience apps and services. Sure, we prefer to outsource much of day-to-day life, tasks such as cooking, laundry and driving, for example. But it turns out we’re making more free time for a reason—to invest in ourselves. A study showed that, while 84% of Boomers and 81% of Gen Xers were making commitments to personal development, 94% of Millennials were investing in themselves. And we’re spending nearly twice as much to do so, despite having half the income (on average).
That seems like the opposite of lazy.
We ‘need to grow up’
Writing about a Twenty One Pilots song, Kyle Smith doesn’t hold back, stating, “a couple of dudes who, in the video for the song, like to ride tricycles, sip from juice pouches, and hang out in their boyhood bedrooms. It’s a succinct introduction to the burdens of Generation Why — as in ‘Why Everything Gotta Be So Hard?’”
Ouch. Someone bring me the burn cream.
Millennials get a lot of grief for being too slow to let go of their childhoods, preferring to be “wrapped in cotton wool.” To be a grown-up is to finish the process of growing up. But what does that even mean in today’s world? The once staples of being a grown-up, a job, house and a family are becoming less of a priority. The boundaries of adulthood are also shifting.
A study showed that Millennials don’t consider themselves to be adults until at least 30 because the very definition of being an adult—leaving home, getting a job and paying bills—is becoming harder to achieve, and for many, less appealing. High prices continue to skyrocket while wages continue to stagnate. It costs Millennials 14 times more to buy a home than Baby Boomers. Throw in a couple of recessions, with another almost certain to follow the current pandemic, and it’s no wonder we’re failing to meet the traditional targets of adulthood.
But we will get there. Millennials will grow up. It may take us longer, and the result will undoubtedly look different, be we all get there in the end.
And what’s wrong with feeling a little younger anyway?
We all know the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover.”
In the case of Millennials, we can take this expression a little further. It might be a funny looking cover, and the first act of the book might be a little slow and misguided, but when it gets going, damn, does it get good.
Just wait for the ending.