For some years now, we millennials have been the subject of countless negative think pieces, articles, and tv spots. You would think that as the best educated groups in US history you would here older generations clapping themselves on the back at what a good job they did. Instead, we are told we are lazy, entitled, self obsessed, and a list of other adjectives that suggest we are the absolute worst.
The older generations likes to look at millennials in a vacuum, taking no responsibility over what they deem a “lost generation.” But who exactly do they think raised us? We weren’t just transplanted here independent of them. These older folks yammer on about how we were coddled, and rewarded for just participating, and never allowed to experience consequences. For one, that’s a very broad stroke to paint over 75 million people as having experienced. Two, if this is the case for some then they were the ones doing the coddling and the over protecting. We didn’t rewarded ourselves for participation, that was them. We didn’t berate and threaten teachers if our grades weren’t perfect, that was them. We didn’t up and plan to sue a park because little Johnny fell of the monkey bars and hurt his ankle, that was them. The circumstance you all believe created us, that’s on you guys. For them to complain all the time about us never wanting to take responsibility, they sure haven’t set a good example.
Now let’s look at this claim that we millennials are “entitled.” They say this whenever we argue for an increased minimum wage, lower/ free college tuition, affordable healthcare, a government that doesn’t spend more on helping corporations than it does it’s citizens, and to be able to attain a job that pays us what our education is worth if we do attend and graduate from college. That’s not entitlement. That is us wanting to realize the dream that older generations sold us. We were all told that if we worked hard, went to school, and did well we would have the foundation and the opportunity to succeed. Well, we’ve done all of that and yet we are still out here with B.A.’s, B.S.’s, MBA’s, and so on folding shirts at H&M, working in call centers, flipping burgers, and living paycheck to paycheck just to get by.
We go to school and incur life long, debilitating debt all so we can work for peanuts, and that is if we can even get a job. Far too often we apply for entry level positions and are told we don’t have enough experience, or we apply for positions that don’t require a degree and are told we are too qualified. In the immortal words of Kanye West, “How Sway!” We’re told that in school we should have taken an internship to gain said experience, but let’s look at why, now more than ever, that just isn’t a feasible plan. With the excessive and down right ridiculous cost of higher education most students have to work during the semester (and during the summer), while going to class, studying, and participating in extracurricular activities that supposedly look good on our resumes and often prevent college from being a soul crushing experience. Now where exactly do we fit in the 10-25 hours per week interns typically work? Now if most internships paid, then that could solve this problem, but far too many companies still believe experience is worth more than money. Nah fam! Not up in here! Especially when you have interns doing work that you used to have paid employees doing but got rid of the position because you knew you could get away with hiring an intern and not paying anyone. The economy is no longer set up to make working for free a viable option.
As millennials we have had to find away to make a living for ourselves and that comes in some unorthodox ways. Many are earning income by way of Youtube, Vine, Instagram, Blogging, creating our own companies that target other millennials, and a whole slew of other avenues that are only possible because of the advancement in technology. However, when we do find our lane and proving we can adapt, we’re called self obsessed, agitators, defiant, so on and so forth. Making something out of nothing and using the available resources to make a living is no longer a display of “American Values”, it’s looked down upon and not seen as worthy or respectable. So as millennials, we can’t win when it comes to Baby boomers or even Generation X.
So as a millennial what I have to say to my peers is “If you’ve found you’re niche and are living comfortably, keep rocking out and take it as far as you possibly can. If you are unemployed or underemployed, I’m right there with you and I know the struggle, keep on keeping on and maybe, just maybe we’ll make it out of the eye of the storm sooner rather than later. And to everyone, keep fighting to fix this broken system that has been built to keep us 6 steps behind.”
To the Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers that love to tell us how terrible we, I’d like to say “Remember who sunk the economy. Remember who decided education was a business and not a right. Remember who raised the generation you seem to hate. And always know, that despite your failings “We gone be alright” *Kendrick Lamar voice*.”