Millennial. I said it. It’s like a bad word. But say it with me, and say it so the people in the back can hear, “I’m a millennial.” Really get it out. “I’m a millennial.” One more time. “I’M A MILLENNIAL.” Great, now that that’s out of our systems, can we proceed?
Why did we need to do that? I don’t think I need to tell you that term “millennial” is often used with a negative connotation, but enough of all that. There’s probably always going to be a generational divide of some sort. History shows it’s always existed, and to some degree, it probably always will. But I am in no way ashamed to be a millennial. And you shouldn’t be either. We have a lot to offer the world — and I believe, in part, that’s because of our desire to find meaning in what we do. Hear me out.
Millennials want to make a difference. We want to believe that what we are doing has a greater purpose and provides some type of service to humanity. You told us we could change the world. You told us we could do anything we set our minds to. And now you’re surprised we believed you?
We want to spur innovation. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers often criticize millennials for choosing unconventional paths. But great change doesn’t come from following in someone else’s footsteps. It comes from blindly marching off-path and believing in yourself enough to carve a new future… a better future. They say the definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. So instead of questioning why we’re not more like the previous generations, be glad you’ve taught us enough not to be.
It gives us hope. Through some of my darkest days after college, I clung to the moments that mattered most. I cherished my friendships. I called on my family for strength. I saw a better future. Most people don’t find their dream job right out of school. Many people struggle to find any sort of meaning in what they’re doing. Yes, some of that comes with time. In some career paths, you need to take the time to develop your skills as a professional and move up to truly see your impact. But I think we need to remind ourselves that the only thing that gets us through those earlier days is the hope that one day what we’re doing will matter. Because why else are we doing it?
A job is a job, but a job you love is a life. In high school and college, when I would complain about jobs I didn’t like, my dad would always remind me it was temporary. I was simply making a means to an end to get myself through college so that someday I wouldn’t have to do a job I didn’t like anymore. But when I got out of school and still landed a job that I hated, I felt cheated. I thought to myself, I did the thing. I got good grades. I got the right jobs and internships. What went wrong? As soon as I found a better fit, my mentality about work completely changed. Sure, there’s parts of any job that makes it feel like a job, but that’s what passion is all about. You find the part that is so good, it makes all the bad parts worth it. And you start really living.
So, here we are. We’ve been called Generation Me. We’ve been called lazy, entitled, and arrogant. But I think it’s the opposite. You told us we could change the world, and maybe you didn’t really believe it. But we did, and we do.