They Got it Right

Many people from older generations complain about Millennials (i.e. those people born between the years of 1982 and 1994). They claim that they are spoilt or that they have this innate sense of entitlement. We often hear that people making up this segment of the society seem to believe that they are special and that they deserve to be acknowledged, rewarded, and even celebrated, but is that really true?

In the past, and as a person born towards the end of the “Generation X’ era (The era defining people boron between 1965 and 1981)  , I sometimes was guilty of making such claims myself. But today I am thinking that maybe those Millennials are onto something.

You see, many people from this generation enter the workforce, knowing their rights fully. Unlike their Generation X predecessors, they will not take jobs for free, or even apply for internships with minimum wage. They will believe that it is their right to demand a certain salary, a certain package, and they will ask for it. Better yet, if they don’t find what they are looking for, then they won’t settle. Instead they will go start their own business. Comparing the young people we see today to the way their Generation X processors  were when they first graduated , we will instantly see that they have a far more stronger presence. As a result, they are probably more respected in the workplace than we were when we first graduated, and their confidence is a lot higher than ours was back when we were 22.

For example, I worked for free for three months. Then I listened to society and taught for a year, although I knew that I wanted a career in writing. It wasn’t until I was 24 that I actually started working in jobs remotely related to writing, and it wasn’t until my thirties that I started writing in my free time, which was very minimal because I was busy working extra hours.

A Millenial would probably not waste too much time. He/she would probably demand to work in the company of their choice, get the salary they deserve, and even pursue a career they want.  The sense of entitlement the older generations complain about is maybe that same force that will get them places.

Many articles published on the subject also claim that Millennials are brought up to believe that they are special and it is this belief that gives them the confidence to stand up for themselves, stand up for what they believe in, and even to ensure that they get the life they want. Maybe that is not a bad thing and maybe they are right in believing in themselves, because one’s belief in the self directly influences other people’s beliefs in them. We might call them spoilt simply because they are able to achieve what we failed to at their age.

Their parents taught them the value of self-worth while our parents taught us the values of self-reliance. Unlike them, we didn’t grow up with extracurricular activities, summer camp, winter camp, career guidance or private lessons. Our parents expected us to work hard for what we wanted in life, and they expected us to do that independently while younger generations have the benefit of constant guidance and direction. Maybe they felt they were special or important due to this hovering, and maybe this belief is the right way to go.

After all, isn’t this same confidence that they gained growing up the force that makes them demand a work-life balance, a right to work flexible hours from home, and even the right to follow their dreams and their passions and to really live?

The outcome of such demands is a society filled with creative individuals who will take the risk to pursue their dreams, while we in previous generations  were only settling for job security , with only a few of us who still believe in the importance of dreams. It is this thinking that allows Millennials to do side projects, to change their hobbies into money-making ventures, and to really go out and make their mark in the world. Maybe they are right to demand the things we were not able to demand. Maybe it is this same sense of entitlement older generations complain about that make them shapers of communities and leaders by nature.

Millennials are the people who grew up being recognized for simply making the effort to participate in an activity. In school, they would get a certificate for effort even if they didn’t win in a competition. So, this means that they grew up appreciating the effort put into something more than we did. They would take more risks than we would because they grew up believing that trying is as good as winning while we grew up believing that we are only rewarded for winning. Maybe it is this mentality that makes them the leaders of social movements, change, and trials. They are the generation of trial and error and the generation that doesn’t give up.

Millennials also hit the mark in the area of self promotion. They are able to make names for themselves using all communication channels. They are fearless when it comes to putting themselves out there, displaying their work, and really making the world see what they are about. What older people may call over-confidence is the same force that brings out new writers, painters, singers, and even inspirational speakers.

So, maybe the Millennials that have been the subject of so many articles that label them spoilt, entitled, and over confident are onto something. Maybe they are able to embody the qualities that older generations failed to. Maybe they can teach their older peers a thing or two about the right to believe in one’s self, the ability to understand that trying is better than settling and that dreams should be pursued.

Sometimes, we might view their statements as outrageous and their demands as ridiculous, but let us think of it is this way, if we knew we could make the same demands that they are making from their communities, we would have done the same a long time ago.

Maybe, in this respect, they got it right.

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