We Are Millennials, Hear Us Roar: My Journey To A Professional Crossroads
This skit had a small handful of funny moments, but it was clearly conceived at a writing table where no millennials were present. It was a retread of every millennial stereotype you’ve ever heard. And while this was done purely for entertainment, there’s a bit of truth in every joke. I didn’t think this was effective then, and I sure as hell don’t think it’s effective now.
Millennials are spoiled. They’re lazy, ungrateful, and impatient. They need to be coddled and spoon fed. They’re not as smart as previous generations. They don’t take initiative. They only want to take short cuts. They have no social skills because of social media. They have no work ethic. Blah, blah, blah.
There probably are millennials out there who, unfortunately, exhibit these less than desirable qualities. But poor work and communication skills are not exclusive to people born after 1980. I’ve encountered plenty of Gen X and Baby Boomer workers who have these same professional deficiencies. It’s not just a millennial skill set, and I’m tired of hearing it.
If I sound upset, it’s because I am. I’m upset because I feel that every person over the age of 40 views millennials as an alien species. They talk about us like we’re a disease that needs to be examined and cured. Our lives are fodder for multitudes of infographics and analyses that will help older generations communicate with us better. But the last thing we need is to be poked and prodded. We’ll tell you everything you need to know if you just halt the research projects long enough to listen.
Yes, it’s unreasonable to expect to be CEO after two weeks in role. Or to double your pay after 6 months of employment. Or to spend more time on vacation than at work. But I don’t think I should have to wait for someone to die before I can be promoted.
I am not anti-establishment by any means. But I am anti-glass ceiling. I’m anti-stagnant career growth. I’m anti-negative boss/employee relationships. It’s not so much the establishment and its history as it is the establishment’s refusal to change. And I don’t feel like I should be seen as a spoiled brat for having different views of the workplace. When it comes to my own professional journey, I’m at a crossroads.
I fall on the latter end of the millennial age spectrum. I was raised by parents who believe in the traditional work structure. You find a great company to work for that has longevity and a strong reputation under its belt. You hunker down and make a name for yourself. Every year, you get a 2-3% pay increase. Every couple years, you push for an opportunity to get to the next level. And you’re happy. You have food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof over your head-all things that are absolutely necessary. I tried that. I tried it for 11 years. And then I realized that it wasn’t for me.
Startups seemed to be the answer. I’d seen offices where there was a house masseuse, nap time, and free snacks. Where I’d previously been inserted into intense structure, I’d have the opportunity to create it myself. So I tried startups too. And I failed. I quickly learned, in 6 months’ time, that a culture in its infancy stage wasn’t for me either.
So what’s my deal? Am I just a rogue millennial that doesn’t like authority? Am I a stereotype like the millennials described above? Would I rather just sit at home, post my writing and photos on social media, and hope that someone discovers me? While that sounds nice, that’s not what I want. What I do want is to be honest with myself about my purpose in life and what would make me happy. And in the process, I hope to contribute something meaningful to society. Working for other people was invaluable as figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as finding out what you love. But all of my experiences have taught me that work in the traditional sense is no longer for me.
I’ve poured myself into my writing and my site because it feeds my spirit in a way that no other job ever has, and I feel that I can work towards my goals without any obstructions. I haven’t completely tossed the idea of working for someone else out the window. I don’t view traditional employment as a bad thing, and maybe there’s a company out there that understands my needs. Perhaps there’s a professional soul mate waiting in the wings.
I don't expect a trophy just for showing up. I’m not interested in avoiding a manager or sidestepping office politics. I haven’t been deterred by work in general because it wasn’t easy. I just want to be in full control of my growth and direction. I want to work for someone who I know will always listen. I want to stop being so distracted by someone else’s dream that I don’t have time to work on my own. I want development that zigzags and doesn’t just move in a straight line. I want success, and I’m willing to work hard for it. I just don’t want to do it the way everyone has always told me to.
I’m wired this way because I have an entrepreneurial spirit. Because I’m open-minded. Because I’m influenced by all the positive developments amongst my peers. I want change because I’m forward-thinking and willing to grow.
Not because I’m a millennial.