Dear Millennials, I just want you to know a few things. But before I share those few things with you, I want you to know that I am one of you. I am standing with you. In a world where humans can literally find any possible reason to divide and create barriers, I want the opposite. I want unity. So as I share this, know that I am for you. I am for us. Whether you are part of Generation Y (like me), or you are part of Generation Z, the reality is, they call us all “millennials.” And the thing is, while they have many negative things to say about us, there is more to us than that.
As millennials, we have heard one too many times that we are lazy, entitled, and a handful of other hurtful things. But I don’t believe it. I mean, sure, in every single generation you can find lazy and entitled people. I know plenty of those in my parents’ generation. But that’s just people. People, by nature, are prone to laziness and can feel entitled to the nth degree. And I don’t really resonate with that being a generational thing. I think that’s cultural. Some kids are raised to believe that they can have anything they ask for, and others aren’t. And who is to say which way is right or wrong, anyway? My husband and I are the exact same age, and he and his brother were given a brand new car in high school, and his college education was paid for. I wasn’t given any of those things. We are the exact. same. age. You cannot look at us and say “your generation…” It isn’t that simple. And even still, my husband doesn’t believe he is entitled to those things.
Our generation has also been criticized for aiming for the very best and waiting for the best opportunities, yet we were raised to think that way. We have also been blamed for much of the economic and political crisis over the last ten years, and I am here to say that is nonsense.
I am here to tell you the truth.
You, millennials, are strong, wise, and highly capable. And you are innovative and creative, and determined to do something about the mess that is our world. You see, the world we live in today is the fruit of what our parents’ generation has sown. My pastor in California once preached on the cycles of sowing and reaping, and it was one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard. Why? Because that one message summed up the reality of seasons in life. We are never living in the fruit of the moment, but rather we are living in the fruit of the previous season of sowing. To think that the total chaos of our world today could be because we are bat-shit crazy and turned the world upside down the moment we turned eighteen is just insanity. The reality is, our “today” is the fruit of yesterday’s sowing. We are reaping what others have sown. The economic and political crisis that we are in did not happen overnight when we were suddenly old enough to vote and go to college. The crazy recession of 2009 could not possibly be the fault of generation Z, seeing as most were still in high school. And Generation Y wasn’t that far ahead either. That crisis started way back in the 80’s (maybe even earlier) when most of us were either tiny babies or not even born.
And the political crisis? Seriously, in 2008 when Obama was elected, more than half of us were not even old enough to vote. (Not a statement about about whether or not he was a good president, just a fact that most of the “millennials” didn’t contribute).
Sure, our children and our grandchildren will have to deal with whatever world we create for them, but right now, in this moment, we are not living in a world we have created. Instead, we are looking around at the world we have been given, scratching our heads, and saying “now what?” We are trying to navigate these waters with every bit of strength we have, all while being shamed and labeled every negative term in the book.
And while it’s not fair— the name calling, unfair blaming and shaming, and misplaced responsibility of all the crap we are dealing with— we can’t control the need of another generation to find someone to blame for their errors.
What we can control is how we respond and how we move forward. And we can prove them wrong.
And I believe in you. I believe in us. Why? Because we are strong. We are some of the most creative individuals on the planet, first of all. And second, contrary to popular belief, we are more willing to come together for a common cause than any other generation. What else? We have been known to be the most charitable of all the generations. We have big hearts and huge capacity to get things done.
We care. We care about our health, we care about our environment, and we care about our rights. That doesn’t make us selfish or entitled. It makes us smart. Sure, they might say we over research things and that our accessibility to knowledge makes us greedy, but I think it contributes to our success.
So, dear millennials, I see you. I see your efforts. I see how you strive to do the very best. I see how you always fight for a better solution and use every bit of creativity to do so. You know what else? I see the sacrifices you make. I see how many of you work four jobs just to pay for overpriced rent. I see how hard you work, all while being called lazy. I see how you have a four year degree but can’t find a job other than the late night shift at the bar.
And I see how you just keep doing it because you don’t have any other choice.
I see how you come home from that job and frantically work on your side hustle. Not because you think you are entitled to “silly dreams,” but because you hope to not only create an opportunity for yourself but for others as well.
I see you trying, and I know that you will do something crazy. Because if there’s one thing they say about us that’s true, it’s that we are crazy— in the best way.
And while I see you, I want to also challenge you.
I want to challenge you to remember what this feels like. Remember how it frustrates and angers you every time we get labeled and blamed and shamed… Remember that. And know that every generation has been blamed for the world that the previous generation has created. Every single one.
And let it stop here.
We can’t change what happened before us, but we can create a new standard.
Let’s be the generation(s) that drive change in every sense of the word.
Let’s be the generation that not only finds a clever and strategic way to overcome what we’ve been handed, but also the generation that never holds the future generations responsible for whatever we hand them.
Let’s be the ones that rise above.
We are the millennials, and we can make the change.