Culture

Cut the Millennial Generation Some Slack

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I’m 24.

I’m young. I’m old. I’m almost mid-20s and six years from 30.  It seems like just last year I was legally allowed to drink, but every time I consult the calendar, I come out age 24.  I’ve been out of college for a few years, but each fall, when a new school year starts, I realize that I’m getting further and further away from my college memories.  I’m starting to feel—confused.

I’m 24–where did the time go? But I’m 24! Shouldn’t I have accomplished a myriad of amazing things by now? That’s what everyone says…  What’s with all this pressure?

And these last few questions are just it.  I find that the Millennial generation is stuck between expectations set by tradition and rigid reality.  What are we supposed to do in such a tough economy with such critics looking over our shoulders?

Tradition is the nursery rhyme, “First comes love.  Then comes marriage. Then comes a baby in the baby carriage.”  Slap a college education before “love” and “1.5 kids” after the first baby. Yep, you’re set! Not.

Reality is a sluggish economy, few jobs, loads of debt, and the possibility of relinquishing independence in order to live for free with family members.

This is the plight of the Millennials.

White Picket Fence

I’ve been lucky, and I admit that my blessed situation (having a job and being financially independent) has made me a bit critical of my generational peers.  I legitimately think that some members of my generation need to get their acts together—and get creative.  Sitting around, playing video games and hoping an almost-blank resume lands a $60k+ job is, well,  ridiculous.

However, I think some members of the older generations need to cut the Millennials some slack. What is a kid to do when nobody will hire them even for menial work? What now?  Sometimes, it’s hard to drum up compassion for Millennials because most people think we’re me-me-me slobs; however, I would like to point to the perceptions that surround the Millennial Generation.  Many of them are negative: They live in basements, mooch off parents, refuse to get jobs, and spend their money on stupid, material goods. First off, this is true for some kids—but not all.  Most want to work and they want to do well.

Unfortunately, reality hasn’t completely caught up with those who like to criticize my generation—they still think some of these kids, even Millennials actively seeking work, are bums. With this thinking, they illustrate how tightly one can cling to American tradition.  According to “back in the day,” even I’m a failure.  I should already have my career planned out, a spouse, and be working on that picket fence and mini-me children.  Just because I don’t doesn’t mean I don’t want it–I just can’t have it right now.  Honestly, I feel pretty good about my progress in such a tough economy.  Sad thing is, I feel that society doesn’t think I’m where I should be.  Again, the thought: shouldn’t I have accomplished a myriad of amazing things by now?  Society, tradition, and the other generations say so… 

For the circumstances, my generation and I have done some great things, and most of my generation is desperately working on doing more.

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I’m sorry, Baby Boomers and The Greatest Generation, but the Millennials are caught between trying to make you proud by acting responsible and actually being responsible by parring down and making sacrifices.  No apartment, car, or kids yet.

We might not have these things until later in life — but don’t view us as failures or insist our predicament is 100% our fault.  You can’t blame the recession on the 14-year old Millennials — or even the 24-year olds. It’s also not the 28-year old’s fault that there aren’t many jobs available for him/her.  In your eyes, the “American Dream” has been slaughtered by our jobless, homeless, penniless lot–but, to us, it’s just been delayed.  So, cut the hard workers some slack and try not to view us all as freeloaders.  We work two or three jobs to make ends meet, put ourselves through school, we are extremely creative in marketing our skills, and we send money back home to help struggling family. We still illustrate the American Work Ethic — and we will still achieve the American Dream.  Delayed gratification, I guess.

Bottom line, don’t give up on the Millennials — we’re just getting started. Literally.