The buzzword “millennial” carries a plethora of stereotypes, misunderstandings, and opinions in its shadow. Older, more established generations often label millennials as lazy, narcissistic, expectant, and demanding. Members of Generation X seem to perceive Gen-Y as self-involved as a whole, with little to offer the world. These patterned opinions have been floating around for far too long, and it’s time to dismiss these false allegations.
Who are millennials, really?
The term millennial refers to a person born in the 1980s or 1990s. Millennials are members of Generation Y, a group of people with exceptional skills, traits, and characteristics to share. Millennials may have different priorities than previous generations, but such variances only bring meaning to diversity, rather than polarize age demographics. The complex of a millennial, on average, is a unique blend of habits that everyone can learn from.
Here are ten common habits of the average millennial’s complex:
- Millennials are tech-savvy. Born and raised in an emerging world of technology, members of Gen-Y have been using the Internet, computers, smart phones, tablets, and social media almost their entire lives. They have rapid typing skills, an inherent understanding of virtual communication and online business, and ultimately lead in areas where technology is the forefront of a company.
- Millennials account for the largest demographic of the U.S. population. To date, Gen-Y makes up 28.7 of the population in the United States, according to an NPR study. This means that millennials outnumber baby boomers by eleven million people! With so many U.S. citizens falling into the millennial category, Gen-Y members are rapidly taking over the workforce.
- Millennials are soul-searchers. Rather than jump into the traditional mindset of marrying young, raising families at an early age, and aiming to become a twenty-something homeowner, most millennials spend their twenties finding themselves. Many young people do not consider marriage a major marker of adulthood, whereas others simply want to delay the commitments that come with marriage and family, in favor of pursuing their passions.
- Millennials are inspired by people, places, and things they relate to. Celebrities, public figures, and sentimental places are important to twenty-somethings. Members of Gen-Y are more receptive to and inspired by their chosen role models, rather than a nagging parent or experienced friend. Millennials care about their favorite musical artists, authors, and social causes that they believe in. Therefore, messages and endorsements from these facets of society hold more meaning than the alternatives.
- Millennials are overeducated and underemployed, which doesn’t make them lazy. It’s tempting to consider a twenty-something careless when s/he holds a college degree and is scraping by with earnings of $15/hour. But is this fair? Student loan debt is at a record high for members of Gen-Y, roughly quadrupling since the early 2000s. Not only do millennials with college degrees suffer from mountainous student debt, but they also earn an average of $30,000 to $50,000 — hardly enough to make a living. Gen-Y college graduates have a difficult time finding careers that pay well.
- Millennials are the most accepting, diverse generation. According to a Forbes study, 14% of millennials are first generation in the United States, and 71% of U.S. millennials appreciate the influence of diverse cultures in America. Habitually, millennials are known for their appreciation for a radically diverse country and embody the changing face of America.
- Millennials value self-expression. On the surface, posting selfies on social media accounts seems narcissistic. In actuality, it’s a form of self-expression the average millennial values. Social media accounts like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr offer millennials a platform to share thoughts, status updates, photos, and tagged locations. These social media accounts offer users the freedom to express themselves, which is an act millennials take full advantage of. Social media offers tools for Gen-Y users to express themselves in a full range of liberating ways.
- Millennials are ambitious. Most members of Gen-Y have a wide range of responsibilities: full-time student, part-time worker, commuter, intern, athlete, and the list goes on and on. Millennials are experienced in juggling a balance act, and commit to as many niches as they can to build up their résumé. With so many responsibilities, millennials are arguably anything but lazy.
- Millennials are constantly changing. Unlike generations before, members of Gen-Y are unafraid to make a change. If they’re unhappy in their relationships, millennials are more accepting of divorce or separation. If a career path seems unfit, twenty-somethings are quick to change gears and head in a new direction. In short, millennials are willing to move their lives around to find the best fit to attain genuine success and happiness.
- Millennials live by trial and error. The life of a twenty-something is a constant bout of uncertainty. Rather than fall victim to this ambivalence, however, millennials are open to trying new things to see if they stick. Millennials are far more apt to date around before settling down with a partner. Millennials are more interested in living with their significant other before getting married or buying a home. Unlike generations past, millennials will quit a job that isn’t right or move across the country in search of themselves. Millennials live experience to experience, trialing before settling down.
Millennials are not lazy, narcissistic, self-indulging freeloaders. Unlike much of the offensive, inaccurate allegations floating around claim, millennials are actually a critical demographic we should cherish. Contrary to popular belief, millennials are hard working, ambitious, expressive, and valuable people. As a whole generation, the members of Gen-Y are far more accepting, progressive, and cultured than most. The complex of a millennial is one everyone should take a closer look at. People may be surprised by what they find!
What are your thoughts on millennials?
Written by: Rachael Tulipano