Millennials aren’t so bad
Lazy, narcissistic, idle, lost.
These are all words used to describe the Millennial Generation, also called Gen Y: the group of people born between the early 1980s and the year 2000. In other words, our generation.
It’s easy to click tongues and shake heads in disapproval at our generation, seeing as it is characterized by the great recession and its result in college graduates moving back in with their parents homes for long term durations. But these generalizations made primarily by members of older generations, eclipse a more important characteristic of Millennials: our tenacious optimism of the future, despite bleak prospects.
Many articles about Millennials regard this generation as the new “Lost Generation,” a term coined by the writer Gertrude Stein concerning the bitter disillusionment experienced after World War I. We may be accumulating college debts without the guarantee of being able to pay them back. We may be stalled by the tough job markets from the recession. But we are not lost. In fact, we are the opposite. We know exactly what we want to do. We want to make a positive impact on the world.
A reoccurring criticism of the Millennial Generation is its inflated sense of self-worth and high expectations for careers as a result. In the Psychology Today article “Is Gen Y Becoming the New ‘Lost Generation?’” Gen. Y expert Bruce Tulgan slams the Millennials as “a pampered and nurtured generation, being both high performance and high maintenance, with a very high sense of self-worth.” As a result, some commentators argue, young adults are turning down available jobs that don’t line up with their expectations.
Our desire to positively impact the world is not a consequence of our inflated sense of self. According to Dan Schawbel’s “74 of the Most Interesting Facts about the Millennial Generation,” 41 percent of Millennials “do what their managers tell them to do, which is greater than older generations.” Schawbel’s article also notes that “Millennials say they do not deserve special treatment and are equally as committed as non-Millennials.”
Millennials do not have a sense of high self-worth, but they do have a general distrust of large corporations and feelings of responsibility towards the world. According to the same article, 92 percent of Millennials believe a company’s worth should be measured by more than just profit and that 84 percent believe that making a positive change is more important than professional success. That does not seem like a group of people with a high sense of self entitlement. That is a group of people with great awareness of social responsibility.
As for our being lazy, we are on our way to being the most educated generation in American history, according to Pew Research. As college applications become more cutthroat, high-school students now work harder than ever to get into colleges. Yet, the Millennial Generation has the greatest percentage of college attendees.
Despite our unfavorable economic conditions and great accumulation of student loan debt, despite having to hold off moving to our own homes and starting our own families, 88 percent of Millennials are optimistic about finding a job. That does not sound like a Lost Generation. If we were the next Lost Generation, we would not have as much faith in the future as we do.
Those who look at our generation with disdain should take a closer look. You will find that the Millennials are full of hard-working, innovative and optimistic people who stubbornly refuse to give up on the future.
Maral Margossian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.