I’d Like to Right Something

In an effort to keep my caffeine addiction at a some-what normal level, I’ve been limiting myself to one cup a morning–and not my usual giant, 16- 20-ounce ceramic cup of joy, happiness, and jitters–the standard, 12 oz kind of cup, the one that you take the last sip of and hold back from saying aloud ‘shit, that’s it.’ So in this morning haze of trying to get my day started and prioritize the multiple post-it notes and to-do list that I scatter around my cubicle to keep myself organized, I decided to wiggle in some room for a quick post to keep myself sane.

Every morning (besides gulping down too much coffee) I come into work and read emails, headlines, studies, and tweets on various health topics. I sprinkle in some industry news–which of course means I also read Buzzfeed lists and Elite Daily posts from like-minded post grads sharing their angst about being an artist/writer in a very corporate-feeling world. All the news I surround myself in leaves me wondering what it is about my generation that seems so foreign to everyone older than us? Before Millennials, were people really that content with working at a desk? Why are older folk–and yes, I’ll call you older if you act like “the Facebook” is still some new phenom (nothing is cool after it sells it’s IPO, sorry)–so inherently disgusted with the fact that young professionals are striving to get ahead–and do so in new ways that bring our companies into the next century?

Fast Company referenced a great study today from Elance-O and Millenial Branding that really sheds light on the misconceptions of Millennials. A few of the study’s highlights (via FastCo):

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What I’d like to point out here is how important a good mentor is to Millennials. In fact, you could even make the argument that the reason earning potential isn’t as important to Millennials as hiring managers believe it to be is because a generation that is constantly perceived as “wanting something for nothing” and  being narcissistic/arrogant, actually favors experience over earnings.

I may be a bit slanted on this–I left a job for a paid internship and the opportunity to work within a company I admired and knew I wanted to work for long-term. At the time it was a risky leap, and although my parents helped me out with place to stay, they weren’t especially thrilled in my decision-making. I locked down a job within the company–not by luck–but by a lot of hard work, late nights, and what I’d like to think is sheer ambition. The confidence I attempt to display in my work is not narcissism. The little bits of it I muster up to fuel a pitch or defend a line I’m dying for an editor to keep takes a good deal of internal rehearsing “you can do this, you can do this–if you mess up everyone is human.” That narcissism we’re so noted for with our selfies and constantly rotating prof pics on Facebook is a mask, inside every young professional perpetually feels like a 5-year-old child reworking ways to ask your mentors/managers/editors ‘why?’ a thousand times a day.

Off the soapbox.

One other thing I’d like to drag out of this one graph is that the people we work with and being part of a team are much more important to us than most believe. It’s as if since Millennials are known as a generation glued to their cell phones/social networks/what have you, we’re almost seen as loners or worse, uneducated people who don’t read or write. Um, it’s pretty much the exact opposite. We’re actually trying to connect with as many as people as possible, as quickly as possible. And, yes, we filter who we’re talking to by talking to people with similar interests, not all, but most of the time. I see the flaws in this, but hey, you can only narrow down a filter so much. I think no matter how narrow your attempting to keep your viewpoint, if you’re tapped into technology the odds of you missing major news/events are about slim to none. We may not know the full story, but we know a little bit about everything at once.

So no, we may not love the idea of dialing a number and leaving you a voicemail, but that doesn’t mean we can’t communicate. Shows like “Selfie” that emphasize how ‘out of touch’ with real life we are due to our narcissistic urges to post on social media with mindless life updates is a very watered-down and out-of-touch way to address our generation. If you’re going to poke fun at us, and include the great John Cho, could you at least make an effort to make the humor a little more witty, or the female lead a tad deeper than a lukewarm kiddie pool. What do you think we’re doing with our noses in our phones? We’re talking to people. No, not in the traditional sense, but in the new ways of communicating: Instagrams, 140-characters tweets, texts, snapchats, statuses, shares, etc. It’s different, but it’s not necessarily wrong. And even I’ll admit I hate being with a group of people who seem more plugged into what’s on their phone than hanging out with me, but what I do in those instances is revaluate the situation, maybe even the friendship. If I’m not as interesting as whatever is on your phone, maybe we don’t have as much in common as I thought.

My last thought I’d like to leave this post on is in reference to this graph:

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I’ve said my peace on narcism. What I find interesting in this chart and the context surrounding it was the idea that Millennials are okay with losing jobs, creating their own income, being their own boss. AHH, that sounds like a scary, scary nightmare to me. Maybe the older end of this generation has had its fill of falling in line, but most of the young people I talk to about work are dying to have a steady job. Sure the ideal situation is a job we love, and in some cases that means that we’ll sacrifice higher income to take the one that let’s us live the dreams we had when we were optimistic college students, but I don’t really think I’m anywhere near qualified to be my own boss or tell anyone else how to do their job, see above feelings on mentorship over money.

We have people like Mark Cuban who made millions in the dotcom boom, bloggers like Julie Powell who write books (and get to be portrayed by Amy Adams in movies), developers like Zuckerberg and celebs like TSwift who all take this really cool, new career paths and become idols. But, these people are the exceptions, not the rule to what success looks like to our generation–and it’s a real struggle for most Millennials to we remember that. I don’t need to be famous, pick up a ton of followers, or make any money at all through my blog–I started it to write more, and as a sacred place to write more authentically in order to keep what I write in my work objective/worth paying for.

So all in all I’m not righting anything, I’m simply sharing an excerpt from one of the largest, most complicated generations to understand (unless you’re part of it). Agism, sexism, the inevitable struggles we all face in the workforce are nothing new–but the times we live in are. This is a very different world than it was even 5 years ago, and it’s only going to continue evolving. Before we judge a generation above or below us for their methods and beliefs that shape society, perhaps we should take the time to think about their context and not so much their covers.

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