Millennials Are Lazy

Don’t you hate when you read that? You being the most awesome, overworked and stressed out person born between 1980 and 2001-ish.

The longer title of this post is: “Millennials Are Lazy…And Other Lies The World Tells Us About Ourselves.”

I am writing this because I wanted to give someone some encouragement after a particularly trying week I’ve had. Within the last nine days, I’ve had maybe 14 people ask me when I was going to start working again (DUH! When I’m actually hired!) AND I’ve been belittled by our favorite people ever – those Student Loan Customer Service Representatives (“We saw you made payments regularly. What happened? You spent your money on things you didn’t need?”). After spending the great majority of my Monday in bed watching Ancient Aliens in between fits of tears, I decided that my feelings would be best on paper.

Or the internet…hence this blog. I really asked myself, “Wait. Why am I believing the snark that other people tell me? Why am I letting the anxiety that others feel because they can’t control something get to me? Why am I believing these lies that people tell me about my kind (my kind being the “idealistic 20-something who moved back in with their parents because the real world was too rough for the pampered sort”)?

And I stopped. I stopped and I wrote out the truths that I know about me…and people like me.

The Cold Hard Truth About Millennials

1. Millennials Are NOT Lazy

Millennials are actually the OPPOSITE of that and here’s the proof. I remember being in high school and having Zero Hour. That means I went to school before school actually started (the hell?) and took an extra class. In this class, I would have to eat a second breakfast because I actually walked off the breakfast that I ate at 6:15 am. Following Zero Hour, I would be in class from roughly 7:50am (yo…your workday doesn’t even start at 7:50am but mine did) until 2:50pm. Beginning at 3:00pm, I was in practice for Cheerleading or Track, depending on the time of year it was. Practice ended at 5:00pm unless my Coach decided I needed extra work OR there was a very important competition/meet coming up. If it were a game day, my “school day” didn’t end until close to 11:00pm at night. I’d go home and do homework and fall into bed close to 1:00am. Then I’d get up and do it all over again….unless it was Saturday. Because Saturday was the day that I would go to work….at McDonald’s.

In college, I took no less than 15 credits (12 credits in the Summer) while working multiple jobs and being involved on campus (I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; was involved in Student Government Association; and co-founded an organization for students of color who majored in Psychology and wanted the support that was otherwise lacking in our department).

And I did that while battling Crohn’s.

I know that if you’re reading that, you’re tired. I got tired just typing it out. But here’s the thing – I’m not the ONLY Millennial to do such a thing. Nope. As a matter of fact, I can point to MANY others who did that and more (more power to you if you did more because Jesus you are awesome!). So know this, we are NOT lazy.

2. Millennials Moved Home Because The World Was Too Much

On top of being called lazy to our face and on the interwebs, we have to deal with the assumption that we move back home because our parents made us breakfast every morning and we really missed that. Oh! And let’s not forget that we also move back home because Real Life made us cry.

Real Life probably made us cry, but not for the reasons you think.

If you are anything like me, then you graduated in 2009 with amazing degrees (B.S. in Psychology) and again in 2010 (M.A. in Urban Education Policy) with the intention of, you know, getting a job! Because you went to school to actually use what you learned in the real world. The problem is that Real Life didn’t get that message and so there wasn’t a job to match your degree. Rather than face homelessness and being an indigent person (by the way, MOST of us don’t even qualify for state aid but that’s another story for another day), you suck up your pride and swallow your self-esteem and you move in with someone who eventually begins to hate your presence. If your Parent was a Baby Boomer, you’ve probably heard things like, “Why don’t you walk into a place and get a job?” I’ll tell you why — ALL of the places I could do that aren’t hiring me because I’m overqualified. If the person you live with was someone who didn’t go to college and has a job, you’ve probably heard things like, “You spent all that money and for what?”

I’ve heard both and I’ve cried many of nights because they’re mean and you just want someone to understand. And they don’t. The only people that understand are other depressed ass Millennials and you don’t want to talk to them because they trigger you. It’s a vicious cycle.

3. Millennials Have Multiple Ways to Make Money

Now, most people call these hustles but I hate that. Why? Because I know real hustlers and they are not about building others up. They are only about themselves and doing things to get YOUR dollar in their pockets. So no…we shall not say that we have multiple hustles. We shall say that we have multiple (legal, hopefully) ways to make money. Myself? Well, I’m a Policy Analyst by trade, a Technical Writer because I’m good at that, a Blogger, a Tutor for elementary-aged children and I create/edit resumes through my small business Professional By Design NOLA.

That’s five ways to make money. In the future, I’m looking to increase ways to make money passively because I actually don’t like working into the midnight hours. The point here is that I have multiple ways to make money. I have an entrepreneurial streak and a spirit to be independent and financially secure. Much like many other Millennials.

But perhaps the one thing that people don’t want to admit about us is this:

4. Millennials Are Overworked People Who Deal With Unfair Stereotypes from Others

Seriously – we want and deserve a break.

Remember what I said about my days as a high school student? Well, I want people to know this. Personally, I’ve dealt with challenges that are often overlooked or brushed to the side or painted as character-building. Up until the time I was 16 years old, I dealt with intermittent homelessness. I became skilled at doing my homework at school or on the bus because I was afraid of taking my books home because I didn’t know where we were going to be some nights. Stressful.

By the time I was 13 years old, I had a regular job as a Babysitter/Tutor for a set of twins in my neighborhood. I spent many weekends on their pullout couch in the den because I needed a place to sleep and food to eat. Honestly, I can safely point to my entrepreneurial spirit as being kindled by a need for stability and security. Having worked since I was 13 years old, I’m tired.

I AM TIRED.

There are people my age who look like they are in their 40s and people make jokes about this. Don’t.

There are people my age who deal with serious depression which is OFTEN brushed to the side because it’s just us “being brats.” Don’t do that either.

There are people my age who deal with serious ailments that cripple their ability to actually work and yet we work anyway. We get up and we go to work from 8:30am or 9:00am to 5:00pm (which is a joke in MOST places because if you want to get ahead, you’ll work extra long hours at less than a living wage and you’ll do it with a smile because you don’t want to be THAT Millennial).

There are people my age who have dealt with life experiences that our parents, family and friends couldn’t imagine. Or they could and don’t want to acknowledge.

We are possibly the first generation to have a super full schedule from the time we were four or five (dance class at 2) who continues to live an existence of being Stretched Too Thin. We are tired Creatives. We are Dreamers who are doing our best to hold on to the idea of a better world. We are Millennials and we’re living on borrowed resources.

But we are far from lazy.

Don’t You Want More Than That?

Disclaimer: I’ve decided to write this post here instead of on my main blog because when I deal with this issue, it’s largely centered on one topic – money. Before I begin, I would like to say that this is a vent. I don’t know if it’s polite or not, but I had to get it off of my chest, which means I’m venting.

Now that I have that out the way, I want to talk about something really annoying here: other people’s expectations for your life.

Not too long ago, @Smooth_Orator shared some interesting thoughts on Twitter. He pointed out that people always feel the need to push you to want more. He went on to say that those who do that often say it’s because “you should want more.” I had to agree when he said that isn’t everyone’s aim in life.

It’s certainly not mine…and that’s okay.

For the record, wanting “more” and wanting “better” are two different things to me. In my own life, I hear people who mean well question why I’m not always moving or working crazy hours or doing something. They see my resting as a sign of laziness (never mind that I have an actual autoimmune disorder that dictates how shitty my day is going to be). To them, people who are always moving or doing something are focused on the right thing – making more money to buy more stuff that they probably won’t use anyway. They go on to support their argument that I MUST want more and I MUST want to work extra hard to get more. Otherwise, why do I have two degrees and want to go on to get my PhD? Or why do I want to travel so much and do other amazing things? To them, these things point to the fact that I want more and since I’m not “doing” anything in their minds to get there, it’s a problem.

Remember what I said about wanting better? Well, they’ve misunderstood that my aim to complete the goals I’ve set for myself is to have better.

Not more.

I want to pay off my student loans because I want the lower stress levels that come with that. I want to become wealthy so I can break the cycle of poverty my immediate family is in. I would also like to give back to my community through a Homeless Amnesty program, a nonprofit that caters to young girls and their developmental needs and a scholarship in my Brother’s memory. I want to travel because I want to experience life in other places and I’ve always had a dream about filling putting thumbtacks in the cities I’ve gone to on an Atlas hanging in my library. I see nothing wrong with living comfortably or modestly. I don’t want the big house (more to clean and more people who will stay with your during the holidays because you have space). I don’t want the big truck or super long car (none of you have ever seen me try to park so why would they wish this on me). And I don’t want a ton of money to be a show-off.

I don’t want more. I just want better. And since that’s alright with me, it should be alright with you.

You can follow @Smooth_Orator on Twitter and read his blog.

Your Financial Problems and Your Personal Priorities

On my personal blog, Miss C. Jayne, I shared how I was impacted by the sermon during my church’s annual Women’s Day. You can read the entire post, but i wanted to share what my revelations has shown me about my personal connection to money.

Yesterday, our speaker shared a lesson and entitled it, “Why me?” Many times, it is in our human nature to ask this question when we find ourselves in uncomfortable positions. I decided to pay extra attention since I found myself asking that question almost daily in a tear-filled fit (these mini-breakdowns have not been pretty, but then a mini-breakdown is never pretty). While speaking, she shared something that stuck out to me: “The trials (in our lives) reveal our trust (in God).*” When she said this, a thought immediately flashed in my mind:

The problems we create in our lives reveal our priorities.

When this thought hit, I found myself in a strange place of calm and understanding. It literally felt like everything was muted. I thought back to my largest frustration – money and the bill collectors on my phone. I thought about my inability to apply to PhD programs, something I’ve wanted to do since 2008, because I owe money on my student accounts at my former universities. I even thought about the current state of my bank account (takes deep breath) and the fact that I owe $1,089 to even get my balance to a cool $0. I thought about every single student loan that I owe on and I felt nothing.

For a moment, I wondered if I had made my transition to the spiritual world in church but I was quickly brought back to my senses when I was elbowed by another person in my pew (lol).

I didn’t die (thank goodness) and I felt a strange sense – clarity. Not peace but clarity. My heart still races when I think about the debt I have at 27 years old but since yesterday, none of that has been embarrassing or daunting. I realized that my priorities have been misaligned and I made decisions in haste with serious consequences. I had a small “Had I known then what I know now” moment. I simply took that moment to remind myself, “But I didn’t know and that’s okay.”

With this clarity, I’m moving forward and making the necessary changes to course correct. After all, that’s why I’m here sharing my story and journey with you all. I hope that you learn from my missteps or that you get some encouragement about your own financial situation.

If you’re still living, it’s never too late to align your actions with your priorities to move towards living the life you want.

*Words in parenthesis are my own and added for context.