The Millennial’s Anthem: We Matter, Get Used to It

If you were born between 1980 and mid-2000s, raise your hands.

If some fogie journalist wrote a scathing article about you, raise your hands.

Entitled. Lazy. Selfish. Egotistical.

If you were called any combination of the above, raise your hands.

For we are the Millennials, Gen Y, Generation Wuss, and Generation ME ME ME ME.

We matter and we are here to stay. Gen X’ers get used to it.

Contrary to Gen X’s popular belief, we are indeed NOT starry-eyed youngsters with the unfettered notion that we can take on the world. Nor are we good-for-nothing basement dwellers buried with video games and cheetos up to our knees. And we are definitely not yellow-bellied bums who do nothing but complain and call ourselves special.

Gen X, you’ll never capture us with singular labels, conception, or any other binary. Because if you can’t stereotype a group, you certainly can’t capture an entire age group spanning across all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures.

But old dogs can’t learn new tricks they said – so no use dissuading your firm preconceptions of an entire generation, right?

But here’s the thing, we ARE increasingly wary of the world and you’ve contributed to that fear and hardship. Did you know that there are increased levels of psychopathology among us?

Whether or not that is due to increased frequency of self report or changing times, whatever, we have better understanding and access to resources for mental health that you never would have grasped when you were our age. So that’s the privilege we have that you often get wrong.

So we are better equipped to handle this shitstorm of a world you’ve built for us.

But the fact remains that life is tougher for Millennials, especially with the increasingly fast-paced society, rising student debt and unemployment, and rising price tags which make it impossible for us to buy a house. Most of us are broke, frustrated, and unfulfilled. I guess that’s the mark of being a “joke”, right?

Are we doing better than our parents? Well that’s relative.

Back then the goal was to not starve, to get a stable job, and to not be homeless. Today’s standards are significantly higher and the job market is tougher. Sure, we have homes and food on the table, but we might as well be bums in your eyes. Because that’s what you told us.

Did you know that instead of steady jobs, we have unpaid internships and crumbling industries (i.e. print) that are threatening to fire us every day? Plus, we actually work harder for less relative pay.

Since 1979, the alleged Dawn of the Millennial, the average US worker has endured as much as a 75 percent increase in productivity…while real wages stayed flat. Those changes are blips on a timeline compared to the massive, psyche-altering vicissitudes of American Industry, its self-Taylorization to the point where profit-making and shareholder value have been maximized in ways that Morgans and Carnegies and Vanderbilts couldn’t even have conceived—in ways that have stiffed workers and the families they can no longer afford. – Adam Weinstein, Gawker

So are we really acting like we’re special snowflakes, just for demanding pay and opportunities that scale equally to what your generation had?

After all, your generation stomped into our brains that only losers do the bitch work, the manual labor, and the mindless work of chimpanzees. So we’re in a frenzy, abusing prescription drugs while enduring stressful STEM curriculum, to achieve your American dream of us being doctors and engineers.

Didn’t you threaten that if I don’t practice my multiplication tables that I would become a janitor?

Didn’t you threaten to disown me if I didn’t become a lawyer or doctor (Oh Hispanic and Asian families…)?

Didn’t you pull me aside, pointing at the neighbor’s lazy 24 year old son, warning me that’s what will happen to me if I don’t ace my exams?

Yet, after all that stress and work, there is no glory to grasp, no ascending success to hitch unto, and no bare Forbes cover on which we can emblazon our smiling profiles. Your threat was a lie. A lie born from your own insecurities, passed from your parent’s insecurities, from your grandparent’s insecurities and so on.

So should we hold our breaths and settle into complacency, passively wait for a miracle to deliver us to socioeconomic salvation and self fulfillment?

No we throw it back at you.

Well, not literally, but symbolically.

How do you beat someone who annoys you? Do better than they.

This isn’t a child-rebelling-against-parentals thing, it’s more of a dont-put-us-down passive-aggressive assertive thing.

So instead of acquiescing to your expired expectations, and criticisms, I channel my frustration into something that improves my life. I write. I make internet-y things. I invite more young folks to join a collective pool of creativity that is more golden, transcendent, and imaginative than you can fathom.

I gave up fulfilling (your) dream of being a doctor or an engineer and became a blogger instead. Guess what? It makes me super fucking happy and fulfilled, more than any STEM-related job would have done.

I’m not the only one in this tangential journey off the path you’ve laid for us.

Now can you see why our generation rekindled the surge in startups and artisan shops?

When voices and personalities are silenced, there is no growth. So we create our new avenues of freedom and unbridled expression.

So back to you, my fellow Millennials, here’s what I say to you: channel your suppressed frustration into cultivating your success.

I’m not endorsing any of that Eat Pray Love bullshit that caters to privileged folks with all the time and resources in the world. We don’t have the privilege to just quit our jobs and go backpacking in New Zealand, with an easel and watercolors strapped to our back. No, it just doesn’t work that way for our generation.

What I mean is find a way to be yourself and to hone own your skills.

Whatever time you have, spend it on self development. Get mental health support (everyone could benefit from it) and find minutes, sometimes hours, to dedicate to what you like doing.

For this is our anthem. Our anthem is about finding ourselves in this roaring, confusing mess.

As for our oppressors, that can’t be helped.

Actually, we should probably kiss them and thank them a million times. Yeah, bow to the deny-ers. Grasp warmly the hands that threaten to fire us over trivial shit. Hug parents who remind us that we’re never good enough.

Because thank you – thank Gen X, for pushing us forward whether we like it or not.

Thank you for putting us in the hotseat, for raising the heat beyond our comfort and helping us quash out every trace of indecision. Thank you for spurring us to do better and to rise beyond stifling circumstances faster than possible, whether or not that was your intent.

Sure, we’re not special snowflakes. But we can make things happen, given what little we have.

The hardship that you dump on us is actually a boon in a way.

For without strife and force,  there is no momentum. Without momentum,  there is no movement.

If discontent is our anthem, so be it.