In recent years, millennials have been subjected to frequent rants in the mainstream media. A quick search on Google will yield numerous queries on negative millennial stereotypes.
Many older generations claim that millennials have it much easier. Yet, much like millennials, they too wanted faster promotions, flexible work hours, careers they enjoyed, and to be well paid.
However, they say the difference is millennials are entitled and narcissistic because they were raised to think that they are special and entitled to these things.
What’s really behind your millennial rants
When I hear someone rant about millennials it often stems from anger and resentment; a byproduct of a hurt ego that desperately seeks to be heard.
What this jaded voice of conformity has failed to see is that underneath the brooding negative stereotypes about millennials lies a real human struggle to find the balance between living up to societal expectations versus the pursuit of self-actualization.
Growing up, we watched our parents’ struggle.
They juggled personal lives, family, and work responsibilities. And after all of the compromises and sacrifices they made, many continued to struggle.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘We silently fear that we might spend the next 30 years of our lives in a cubicle …’ #millennials” quote=”‘We silently fear that we might spend the next 30 years of our lives grinding steadily and regretfully in a cubicle, only to wake up one day and realize that it was not what we truly wanted.'”]
Our parents think about what they could have done differently and worry about not having enough to retire. They are boomers who wanted a prestigious title and the corner office, while we prefer more meaningful work. And although we don’t openly admit it, we are seriously afraid of walking in their regretful footsteps.
“Hearing stories about their parents living through the Great Depression, boomers experienced a childhood ‘immersed in messages about hard work, sacrifice, long hours, moving up the ranks, and maintaining a thrifty lifestyle,’ … and boomers adopted those practices.” And since we are “less willing to forfeit such pleasures (after witnessing mom and dad burn out),” we take a different approach.
We silently fear that we might spend the next 30 years of our lives grinding steadily and regretfully in a cubicle, only to wake up one day and realize that it was not what we truly wanted. We dread that by the end of our lives we will have a laundry list of wishes, dreams, and plans that were unfulfilled.
The future of work is changing, embrace it
In the traditional corporate climate of the boomer generation seniority and experience triumphed over innovative thinking and competency. Employees were expected to follow orders without question. Junior and entry-level employees were often at the mercy of senior management who engaged in office politics and schmoozed with high-level executives to keep their power and position.
This strict and hierarchical organization structure of business was accompanied with rigid work environments leaving many feeling powerless and disillusioned.
“In the end, it’s really not just about the Millennials. But it is about creating the right work culture that they demand — one that Boomers and Gen-Xers should have been demanding all along.”
The good news is that the workplace is slowly evolving in an era of globalization and information technology. Technology and social media have enabled people to connect and share information on a global scale. Learning about companies, values, business practices, and culture is now easier than ever before.
This change has created a need for transparency and made many companies re-evaluate their company culture and people management approach. Although many factors are contributing to this shift, part of this change is due to millennials actively challenging the traditional notion of work.
“Having grown up during the evolution of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, [millennials] possess a natural techno-savvy that can lead to resentment of coworkers who don’t have the same skills. When it comes to tech, 76 percent of millennials think their boss could learn a lot from them, compared to just 50 percent of boomers, according to MTV.”
Millennials grew up in a different time with different needs. We exhibit an unparalleled capacity for sharing and assimilating new information, accepting new ideas, and thinking creatively. We use technology to exchange information and communicate our needs.
Shame on you for shaming millennials
As we look back on Boomer work struggles it taught us that the relationship between an employer and employee is not a top-down approach, but rather a two-way street of give and take based on reciprocity, mutual expectations, and respect.
If we can’t voice our own needs, then no one else can.
Our willingness to challenge the established and broken system, to walk away from employers who don’t treat us with respect, to start our own ventures, and to question the experiences of those came before us is a precious quality.
[clickToTweet tweet=”‘If we can’t voice our own needs, then no one else can.’ #millennials” quote=”‘If we can’t voice our own needs, then no one else can.'”]
It takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable to speak one’s true voice in the face of an established norm where shaming is justified.
It is the manifestation of this authentic, human quality that has turned the tables on hiring practices, work culture, and talent development. This open and genuine attitude where you speak up for your own needs is suppressed and lost in so many people.
A call to action for millennials
Millennials, I urge you to stay true to who you are and continue to pursue choices that feel right to you. Don’t be swayed by loud rants and anyone who asks you to compromise your true self because they denied their own rights to do so.
Don’t let the derisive stereotypes and dissenting voices make you question your own worth and who you are. Share your laughter, experiences, and love, and take responsibility for your actions. It’s okay to make mistakes along the way because life is a continuous learning process.
People who cannot see beyond the negative stereotypes do not understand what you represent in the evolution of the collective human consciousness. They will not be able to tap into your true potential and are bound to fall behind in a world that is growing with an increasing number of us.
You are the leaders of tomorrow. And what awaits you are serious social, environmental, and economic challenges left by the greed of the previous generations. Only you can figure out what is truly important to you.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Wendy Lin is a Human Resources professional who specializes in talent acquisition and business operations. She works for Reservoir Labs, a technology consulting firm based in New York City. She is passionate about helping young people to find their career passion and life’s purpose. Connect with @reservoir_labs on Twitter.