Older people judge the young, and young people judge the old. However, perhaps no other generation has had so many negative stereotypes placed upon them as the millennials.
These stereotypes aren’t born out nowhere. However, they ultimately hold us all back because they prevent people of different ages with different world views from effectively working together to solve the problems we all face as a collective. The good news is that once millennials understand our negative stereotypes and why we so often get pinned with them, we can prove people wrong about who we actually are and what we’re capable of. We can integrate with others instead polarize ourselves to become more effective in our pursuits.
And everyone wins as a result.
Listed are some of the most common criticism about the rising generation and ways to overcome these unchallenged judgements about our character. The goal is to for each person, regardless of age and worldview, to behave in a way that allows us to honored as individuals, capable of not only succeeding within, but evolving, another generation’s world.
- Entitled: Healthy entitlement is good, as long as you can prove that your desire for the best of what life has to offer stems from ambition. Millennials were raised in a way that gave us false expectations for how the world works. We were rewarded with trophies just for participating. We were often lavished with material goods by our parents just for existing — who wanted to give us everything they never had. However, just because it may come off as a shock to some of us that life doesn’t always hand you what you need to survive, does not mean that young people aren’t willing to work to earn our keep. A lot research shows that millennial want accountability. We dream big, and want to grow.
- Overly-Independent: It’s also important to show other generations that you are willing to work with them. It’s a myth that millennials want to do everything alone, remotely from a computer, or only with people from our own age group. We just have to get over our own fears of being discriminated against, and our self-esteem issues. So fake it ‘till you make it. Act confident. Give your elders a firm handshake. Don’t be afraid to tell your story, so that people can better relate to you. Reach out and find a mentor, someone older and wiser who is willing to invest in your future and help you avoid their same mistakes. The relationship can be enriching for both parties involved.
- Untrustworthy: Millennials also get the stereotype of being disloyal — both professionally and personally. People think we don’t have the fortitude to stick to something long enough to succeed. Here’s the truth: many of us desire a fast-paced lifestyle and have diverse life goals. It’s not always that we fear commitment. We just want to experience it all. It’s important to know, however, that the grass isn’t always greener somewhere else. So when you find something good, snag it. If you get hired for a position at a millennial-friendly, “emotionally safe” company, let them know that you are dedicated — not only to their mission but to your own development as a professional. When you meet someone you feel aligned with and excited by, make the time to build a bonafide relationship with them. Being in a steady partnership or committing to one job doesn’t necessarily have to stifle your growth.
- Addicted to Tech: Those millennials, they are hopelessly controlled by their devices. Really, technology is fundamental to how we see the world, and how we express ourselves and communicate with others. Most millennials never go anywhere without a smartphone by their side day or night. Leaving home without one is enough to elicit a panic attack in some of us. Without it, we feel desperately lost (because: Google Maps). And still, it’s important know when to put the phone and laptop down and pay attention to the people in front of you. Use technology to connect with others — not hide from them. If someone calls you, don’t text them back. Let people feel who you are in the flesh, through sincere and warm expression.
- Unproductive: The millennial cohort is judged as underperforming in life. People think we’re apathetic, that we don’t care about the future of the world as much as we should. What’s really going on behind our apparent lack of drive is far more complex. We’re growing up in a time when our structures are destabilizing and traditional routes toward mainstream notions of success are becoming unbound. Saturated markets and the chaos of options cause a lot of us suffer from decision fatigue. Some have a crippling fear of failure. And while we seem to certainly enjoy experimenting and finding ourselves while we’re young, our lack of a clear life path may cause some of us to be less productive in the long run. However, I believe that, along our zig-zagged routes toward self-actualization, we’re adamantly trying to find out what we’re good at. We’re cultivating the psychological strength to believe in ourselves enough to go for it it. We’re looking for our “why,” our life purpose, and almost all of us want that purpose to contribute to what’s good in the world — someway, somehow, someday.