We’ve been banded together by this title yet, I struggle to relate to my “peers.” In fact, you will not ever hear me refer to myself as a millennial. It’s a tag I haven’t claimed. And perhaps I don’t have to, given the ambiguity around just when this generation began. Wikipedia cites a minority of demographers starting the generation in the late 70’s while others have it beginning between 1980 and 1984. Soooo, since they haven’t nailed it down. I have conveniently decided to exclude myself (lol).
Meh! I’m probably just being a whiny baby.
The millennial generation (also known as Generation Y, Digital Natives, Generation Me, Generation Rent and Echo Boomers) has been charged with being lazy, narcissistic and entitled. Obviously, this is a gross generalization but I can’t say from my own experience there is some merit to these assigned characteristics. Over the years, I’ve had relationships with a number of younger millennials and I was certain they were aliens. I just couldn’t understand their thought processes and assumptions about the world.
I mean there’s no way around it, as I engage with “millennials,” there are just some stark differences between them and me. I was born at the very beginning of this generation so my early experiences were entirely different. I owned records and received cassette tapes in my Happy Meals from McDonald’s. Our luxury car was my mom’s 81′ Buick Regal in which pockets of the cloth from the ceiling (also known to our family as “the titties”) dropped so we had to hold them up as she drove. There was no caller ID, cordless phone, cable TV, or internet during my formative years.
When we were coming up, we played outside—hopscotch, double-dutch, hide-and-seek, catch a girl freak a girl (don’t judge us, lol), and cops and robbers. We climbed trees. Rode our bikes for miles and miles until the street lights came on then booked it all the way home. Me and my boyfriend had pagers and were ridiculously giddy when we saw 07734 (hello), 411 (what’s up?), and 143 (I Love You) come across our screens. And if we weren’t home, we would call each other from a payphone to check in. On Tuesdays, I went to Sound of Germantown or Tower Records to cop new albums. Like, there was something so exhilarating about catching the bus to these stores to buy an album the day it came out, tear the plastic off, then read the insert of the album on the bus ride home.
We addressed adults as Mr. or Mrs., Ma’am or Sir. We didn’t call our teachers by their first names and our teachers didn’t think twice about doing things like washing our mouths out with soap for using foul language or pulling us out of the classroom by our ears because we were disrespectful. Oh, and it didn’t matter how much older a person was to us, even if they were just two years older it was instilled in us to have reverence toward them.
Both of my parents were from the school of hard knocks. We were taught, you earn respect. Hard work was the standard and entitlement didn’t exist.
So, you see…there’s this disconnect that I have with those who are supposed to be my peers yet weren’t exposed to the same things I was.
Recently, I forced myself to look at this generation objectively, and I was able to identity a common theme among the younger and older millennials. We all desire to pursue our purpose in life. That phrase is used more in our generation than in any other generation. And to this I say, right on!
Also, in my objective analysis of my categorization in the millennial generation (I feel like that sounds Jesse Jackson-ish lol), I sought to pull out the characteristics that I admire most with regard to the younger millennials. I feel they exhibit a fearlessness and an aggressive refusal to accept things at face value that I don’t necessarily possess. And I’m not at all mad at that!
I’m not sure the day will come where I happily welcome the millennial label but I will at least seek to bridge the gap as best I can. I have a mentee that is totally a millennial (lol). Yet she’s such a gem! Perhaps the younger millennials don’t deserve such a bad rap. But I still have my side-eye locked and loaded.
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