I currently live in Orange County, CA, the 3rd most expensive county in the nation, largely due to housing costs. I moved to the OC with Chase when we were both 24, a fact that is interesting only because we fall solidly into generation “Millennial,” and Millennials are routinely inundated with negative stereotypes: lazy, entitled, unsuccessful, overly-sensitive, et cetera, et cetera. I just Googled “Millennials” and the top search results include: “Millennials are Screwed” from The Huffington Post, “Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation” from Time Magazine, “The Millennials are Generation Nice” from The New York Times, and “Millennials in the Workforce: A Generation of Weakness,” by Simon Sinek (hey Simon, speak for yourself).
Our move placed us 2,000 miles from our families and most of our friends. We both have good jobs and pay for our own shit: apartment ($2000/month), cars (mine is currently $160/month), internet ($50/month), electricity ($40-$160/month, depending on weather), entertainment (Hulu, drinks out, hobby-ish stuff), airfare, et cetera. We have a cat who is still alive. We both work out nearly every day. In addition to my day job, I do freelance writing projects and I manage this blog. I am not an “anomaly.” I’ve met my fair share of lazy Millennials, but I’ve met countless lazy Gen X’rs and Baby Boomers, too, mostly in the workplace. Laziness doesn't just evaporate with age.
A quick side note about the workplace: let's all agree to stop trying to make offices seem hip and posh. I’m happy to not be working in a dump if I can have some autonomy and work with people I enjoy being around. I could care less if there’s an on-site café, or bean bag chairs, or a Foosball table. And I absolutely don’t appreciate “open” work environments, designed to be “more collaborative.” There are literally Harvard studies enumerating the many downfalls of open offices. Let's not regress.
Millennials might be young, but we have worked before. We don’t need someone to hold our hand and explain Outlook to us. My workplace trajectory has played out something like this (play along and see if yours has been any better!)
- I am turned down for 97 jobs because I’ve not yet acquired 3-5 years of experience
- After interview 98, I get a job offer!
- After hearing the salary, I negotiate, which I’ve been told is “bold.”
- I begin working and 12 different people comment that I could be their daughter! How good to be so young.
- After a month or two, people notice that I answer emails promptly and use correct grammar.
- I am asked to do small favors, such as complete my work on time, and I comply.
- One day, I do something exceptional, like my job, and I am applauded.
- I am told I am “a hard worker” or “a good writer,” two things I am already aware of.
- I am given more responsibility, and this makes me happy because I hate to be bored at work.
- Inevitably, someone will say, “You’re really on top of your shit for being so young” or “I can’t believe you’re only 25” or “We didn’t expect you to perform so well.”
- I smile politely because I’m a lady.
- I rant to my friends, who understand, and my parents, who chuckle.
- I write about my experience, because maybe that will make it funny.
- I adopt a Saint Bernard, because I desire a companion who doesn’t talk. JK, I don’t have a Saint Bernard, but if I did I’d name him Howard and he’d be the fucking best.
Circling back: nothing on this beautiful planet makes me more irritated that hearing from someone that their expectations of me were low. Pro tip for any business owners, hiring managers, or employers out there: if you hire a Millennial and you have low expectations of them, don’t hire them.
Finally, this thoughtful article from Entrepreneur details seven "bad workplace habits of Millennials," including: talking more than listening, making demands instead of requests, exhibiting overconfidence, multitasking, and staying "plugged in."
I'm not here to defend everyone between the ages of 22-37, there is certainly a time and place for personal development and a deep look inward. I'm saying that it's a bit short-sighted to direct such overarching generalizations onto one generation. People will inevitably, irrationally defend themselves (i.e. I'm not lazy!) or clap back with some equally hurtful stereotype about another group of people. Both of which go nowhere, and leave everyone a bit dizzy and out of breath, what with the absolute madness of it all.
P.S. If you'd like to rant about stereotypes, Tweet me @sarahmac_attack. Let it out, my friend. In 140 characters or less.