Millennials get a lot of flack.
That is not an opinion; it’s a fact. You can look almost anywhere on the Internet and find something bad about us. We’re lazy; we’re entitled; we’re arrogant; we’re narcissistic. We spent too much time on the Internet. We take too many pictures of ourselves. We don’t know what hard work really means. We think we can be whatever we want. We don’t know the value of real money.
The amount of times I’ve heard someone say “millennials” and then scoff or roll their eyes is more than I can count on both hands.
I have seen this and I’ve experienced it. As an eighteen-year-old Arts student and journalism-hopeful with the goal of becoming a published novelist, I get it. At one point, I saw so many sympathetic aw, sweetie looks that I stopped telling people I wanted to be a writer. I get it. But I see the other side, too, and that’s what scares me.
Up until a few months ago, I never understood the stereotypes older generations attached to us. But I see it easier now. At university, I watch kids blatantly ignore red lights to saunter across the street. I see people cut class to go shopping for expensive clothing, or complaining about how annoying the professor whose class they paid a thousand dollars to attend is. One day, a prank group interrupted my Sociology class by pretending to drop out. And when the footage of MacBooks doing anything but taking notes went online a week later and the prof told us laptops weren’t allowed in class anymore, I listened to the girl beside me rant about how much she wanted to kill him. I see this, and it saddens me.
I still believe in millennials. I really do. Because my version of millennial—the one I share with most of my peers—has nothing to do with this stereotype. My millennials work hard for their education. They fight for a position in a workforce still clogged with baby boomers. They struggle under a higher cost of living, including increased tuition fees and booming housing markets. They strain to get their voices heard in the fight for basic human rights.
That lazy/entitled/arrogant/narcissistic image of us isn’t the full reality. But the problem is that time and time again, the outliers are the ones who get noticed. And labels stick. When you hear over and over again how entitled or lazy you are, sometimes, you start to believe it. When someone tells you your dreams are foolish a few too many times, sometimes you abandon them.
But if we give in to those stereotypes and give up on our dreams, the world would be a heck of a darker place. Without millennials, we wouldn’t have the acapella performance of Quiet by MILCK and 26 singers at the Washington Women’s March. We wouldn’t have Malala Yousafzai or the Free the Children Foundation. We wouldn’t have Facebook, Snapchat, or many other popular social media platforms we use to keep in touch with each other.
So do us a favour, millennials. Believe in yourselves. Cast off your stereotypes. Because no one’s going to believe in you if you don’t do it first.