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.