I assure you this will not become one of those generational rants or tirades about what’s wrong with millennials. I pride myself on being a millennial and actively contributing to breaking any and all stigmas associated with them. That being said, there’s one specific recurring theme in my social media interactions with them that’s really starting to bug me.
I think it’s awesome that we’re all paving our own way-sticking it to the man by creating our own businesses and dipping our hands in fifteen different cookie jars to prove we can do it all. I’m a manager/blogger/writer. I’m sure you’re a model/blogger/designer/whatever else you can fit into your Instagram bio. And believe me, despite my slightly snarky, sarcastic praise, I really do think that’s incredible. But what’s not incredible is when someone claims to be all of these things and expects everyone else to either do the hard work for them or lay out an exact road map of how to get to success. Don’t you get it, silly rabbits? Part of creating your own business or paving your own path also involves doing your own damn work and doing it your way. That’s what makes it yours and not anyone else’s.
My menswear blog, Uptown Bourgeois, is just shy of a year old. I’m still in an intense growth phase where I’m troubleshooting what methods do and don’t work to grow my audience. I’m also still paying close attention to really successful bloggers to see what’s attracting traffic to their posts. I don’t consider myself an expert in any way, shape, or form when it comes to blogging. And I’m sure I’m still 5-10 years away from doling out advice to beginners about how to make it in the “industry”. I have not made it by any means. However, my lowly opinion of my level of expertise has not stopped novices from all facets of the fashion industry from requesting, or in some cases demanding, my help.
There’s the aspiring model that has maybe done one photoshoot and posts a lot of selfies across various social media networks. He thinks someone will stumble upon his IG profile and sign him to a multimillion dollar contract. And he expects me to give him advice about how to get there. There’s the aspiring “designer” who has this really great screen-printed t-shirt and thinks that spamming all of his Twitter followers is enough to generate millions in sales. He thinks that I’m a pro bono business consultant and can guide him to exposure. He has no idea what a press kit is. He also thinks that I have contacts in manufacturing and textiles and is baffled that I can’t give him more information. Dude, have you ever seen a piece about infrastructure, garment manufacturing, or textiles on my blog? Forget doing your homework about the fashion industry. Try reading a few of my tweets before you DM me about guiding you to fame.
Though the age of social media and reality TV competitions has made every career seem achievable in a series of simple steps, hard work is actually still required to make any dream come true. No one is going to hand it to you. I’m sorry to disappoint the aspiring model guy and the aspiring designer guy. There’s no magic photo filter or retweet that’s going to get your business or career off the ground. Stop clogging the inboxes of complete strangers who have no experience in your industry. Stop being lazy ingrates and spend a couple hours on Google. I love to create mutually beneficial partnerships with business owners and brands. But I am not an advice columnist now nor do I ever plan to be. I will, however, offer one piece of sound advice for all my fellow millennials who dream big but work stupid: stop asking for handouts! You’re making the rest of us look bad.