What Is A Millennial? I’ll Tell You.

What Is A Millennial? I’ll Tell You.

So Exactly What Is A Millennial Anyway?

Millennials are the generation born roughly between 1980 and 2000 and followed generation X. Two men, Neil Howe and William Strauss, are regarded as the men who invented the term. They wrote a book together in 1991 titled “Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069” where it was first thought to be used. Although this cohort does go by the terms generation Y, echo boomers, digital natives, and the “me” generation as well.

So now you have a snapshot of who they are. But what about what they’re like?

Let’s find out.

Millennial Characteristics

They were born into a world full of new technologies, and have always taken them for granted. Their parents are mostly Baby Boomers who gave them stability, alongside a slew of trophies they did not deserve.

They are a generation filled with entitlement, a lack of loyalty, impatience, and no commitment. Am I right?

All they want is to be the next big thing, or change the world in a day. This cohort wants these things without ever having to feel what it’s like to struggle for a while before they get there.

It seems like all of them want to have some huge societal impact right out of college, or live in some miniature house out in the middle of nowhere, all while being obsessed with the latest and greatest piece of technology. There are many people out there that might argue that this particular generation of young adults are just spoiled, aimless, and have their heads too far in the clouds to do themselves any good.

However, I am not one of those people. I’m here to shed a little insight on who exactly my generation is, and why we might just be onto something with how we live and think.

Here is the real story.

Gen Y is Adaptable

One stigma that seems to be pretty consistent with this particular demographic is that they all possess a general flightiness or commitment issue. But that’s simply not the case. Most millennials have grown up in a time where they have been surrounded by a world that has seen significant technological growth year after year. Technology and it’s related advancements in society have conditioned their minds to be constantly assimilating new information, working on multiple tasks, and being able to take on new challenges with the utilization of an ever growing base of resources.

This rapid change has fundamentally reshaped the way that we conceptualize the world around us. Gone are the times when there were a limited number of options to pursue when thinking of building a future. To us, there is an almost endless list of possible options to create a life and career around. So we have begun to place more importance on a breadth of skills, rather than just an extreme level of depth in any one.

Some have seen this as a lack of value in millennials as potential employees. But I would argue that when utilized correctly by a company, with clear goals, positive leadership, and the room to succeed, this adaptability allows for a higher potential success in a wider variety of areas than prior generations. It also allows for thinking through situations from multiple and different lenses, which fosters novel ideas.

The “Me” Generation Is Crafty

To certain individuals with very legacy mentalities, this quality is sometimes mistaken for being overzealous or misguided. Millennials are notorious for thinking outside of the box, challenging the status quo, and being willing to live their lives in a non-traditional way in pursuit of their passions. Many will say that this isn’t practical and that society wouldn’t work out if everyone decided to behave in a similar fashion, and perhaps they are correct.

But almost every revolutionary or influential figure who has had a significant impact on history, has initially been scrutinized for their original thinking. People aren’t always accepting of what’s new, or different. Let’s just keep in mind that there had to be one crazy person to have the first thought that the moon was something we could travel to, and then on.  

Us Millennials grew up a bit posh and most of us had the luxury to move up Maslow’s hierarchy and think about what matters to us outside of the basic necessities of money, food, stability, etc. So for most of us, sitting around in an unfulfilling desk job for 30 plus years making an okay living isn’t that appealing. Our minds start to wonder about all of the amazing things that this glorious world has to offer, and the wheels start turning as to what we can do to be a part of or influence the surrounding society.

We want to be a part of something bigger, more meaningful, and often something that’s going to change some aspect of our world for the better. In the workplace, this has lead to startups and companies that are radically changing the way business is done.

Passion And Conviction Are Their Middle Names

Perhaps my favorite stigma against my particular generation is that we are supposedly all extremely entitled. That we just expect great things to happen in our lives and want to be rich and famous without having to work all that hard for it. To this I reply, what exactly is the problem with that mentality?

Although it is incredibly respectable, and there are many hardworking and selfless people in the world, there is nothing desirable about working a job that you don’t like, aren’t being treated well at, doesn’t fulfill you, or where you don’t make enough money to live a life you are comfortable with.

This generation has just decided that certain freedoms, passions, and luxuries are important to their lives, and they aren’t going to compromise on them. More so than any time in history, it is now very easy to start a multitude of different businesses. There are also more paths to success than ever before.

Working smarter, and more efficiently is the name of the game when it comes to gen Ys.

The Takeaway

Our biggest strength is that we’ve rediscovered how to dream.

To all of my fellow millennials out there, do not get discouraged or dissuaded by society’s seeming vendetta against our sometimes radical and non traditional ways of thinking and behaving. Instead, I say to embrace it. Keep on working towards that gluten free, non-gmo, organic tofu food cart that you’ve always wanted. Go out into the wilderness and start your own communal sustainability society project. Find a way to get that startup crowd funded in a year and bring all of your friends along. Allow yourself to be immersed in social media to the point of becoming an expert and being able to then share that expertise.

Our biggest strength is that we’ve rediscovered how to dream. How to have seemingly impossible goals and ambitions, and not let anything get in the way of reaching them, no matter how unlikely. That’s the start, and driving factor behind all historic/society changing people, companies, and ideas. So keep it up. #millennialpower

Kenneth D.W Marshall

Loves long walks on the beach!
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