In today’s society the title “Millennial” has begun to require an apology. My generation is commonly described as entitled, lazy or coddled. I recently entered the workforce and was faced with such a derogatory stereotype. Never during my years in college spending countless hours slaving over projects, studying for exams or volunteering did I think I was lazy. Now, with any stereotype there may be some truth. There are Millennials out there who are lazy just as there are lazy Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers. Laziness isn’t confined to the stereotype and it certainly does not entitle anyone to make a generalization. It’d be the same as saying thin people are anorexic or the rich are greedy. We know these statements to be untrue because we personally know people who don’t fit the stereotype. That being said I find the reputation for Millennials both insulting and intriguing.
I decided to take advantage of social media (I am a Millennial after all) to better understand people’s opinions. I conducted a 24-hour Instagram voting poll in which I asked my followers the question “Are Millennials lazy?” I received 94 votes, 47 answered yes and 47 answered no. The voters varied from ages 15-60. I encouraged people to message me with more insight on their thoughts and here were a few of the replies.
“People think millennials are lazy because we do not work in the normal conventional ways that most prior generations/groups do. We are in the age of entrepreneurship finding our own niches, creating them entirely…But we don’t work any less than they did in previous factory or farming gigs it’s just the online world.”
“You guys are not lazy but we as parents have tried to do so much for you, that when it’s time for you to do it on your own, you seem to have some issues. So it’s pretty much our fault why you are lazy.”
“My entire team consist of millennials; they are entitled spoiled brats.”
It’s pretty easy to tell which generational age group sent what. So what allows older generations to stereotype Millennials? Are these generalizations creating a problem? And above all, why am I proud to be a Millennial?
Baby Boomers grew up with the goal of achieving “The American Dream.” They traditionally linked their worth to their jobs. Through blood, sweat and tears they strived to provide the best life for their children, the Millennials. Many of us were raised believing we could have or be anything we want in life and that we are special. A majority of us have been lucky enough to experience more of what the world has to offer. But it seems that while our parents wanted to give us a better upbringing than they had, many Boomers expect our life paths to match their own. Those who raised us to believe we could have anything now accuse us of being entitled. This generalization discredits the Millennials out there who work hard in their careers, and earn what they have even if it comes quicker than in times past. The simple truth is that we’ve grown up in a completely different society where obtaining jobs or receiving education comes faster and even easier. The way Boomers feel about Millennials reminds me of high school. When you’re a freshman you always get picked on by the seniors, not because you did anything wrong, but simply because you’re a freshman. It doesn’t make sense, but when you become a senior you act the same way and the cycle continues. An old song by Mike & The Mechanics once said “Every generation blames the one before and all of their frustrations come beating on your door.”
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that a person may knowingly or unknowingly cause to be true. Sadly, at a young impressionable age some youths have learned to rise or fall to expectations set before them. As Millennials, we are continuously forced to prove ourselves against the low expectations set for us even if we personally had no part in creating them. The blame falls on both the shoulders on the Boomers setting the expectations and on some of the Millennials out there that choose to settle for them. However, imagine a world where when the term Millennial was mentioned, people described us as being “innovative, technologically savvy, community oriented.” Would that not encourage hard work to prove those words to be true? I don’t think anyone wants to be a disappointment. So to all you Boomers out there, who know a Millennial that breaks the stereotype, start vocalizing the positive experiences and set expectations high. To all you Boomers out there using derogatory terms to describe us, you’re creating a wall between our generations. You have the opportunity to be mentors to us, sharing wisdom from your life experiences.
Boomers can learn from us too. While we may at times be known as the generation glued to our phones, we know how to use technology to further our success and leverage the increase of global exposure. Technology is like a train, it’s the present and the future whether we like it or not. Millennials are choosing to ride the train instead of being run over. According to a study conducted by Sarah Green Carmichael in the Harvard Business Review in 2016, 1 in 4 Millennials already holds a management position. Entrepreneurship and creativity are flourishing. Startups like Facebook, Blue Apron and Airbnb are all successful businesses created by Millennials. There has also been a higher focus on giving back to the community since our entry into the workforce. Many of us want to have purpose in our jobs and challenge companies to provide us with the opportunity to make a difference. We strive to have a work-life balance to take advantage of our time. We are the generation that travels or studies abroad. I studied Leadership in London during college, and I can say firsthand that traveling has changed my outlook on life and has made me a more open-minded person. These are just a few examples of how many Millennials don’t fit into the stereotype given to them. I’m thrilled to be a part of a generation that strives for efficiency, thinks outside of the box and challenges the status quo. We have much to learn but we have much to offer.
There are Millennials who are lazy, entitled and prideful. But there are Millennials who are innovative, hardworking and eager to learn. Derogatory stereotypes build barriers, but by having and earning mutual respect between generations we can collaborate to create a better working environment. I’m not going to apologize for being a Millennial. I’m going to continue to show the people around me why I’m proud to be a Millennial.
Author: Karli Azar
Author Bio: I’m Karli from Indiana. I believe that creativity should be incorporated in every area of life, from career to hobby. I have found that writing allows me to share my thoughts in a way that can impact people’s lives for the better. Let me know your thoughts!
Link to social media or website: Instagram @krazyart_