Millennial is defined by Wikipedia: “Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.”
As a millennial, born in 1988, the commentary on millennials is familiar. More so, the negative commentary. Millennials are categorized as lazy, entitled, spoiled, whiny, coddled, fiscally irresponsible, unskilled, socially inept, narcissistic… the list goes on indefinitely.
I find myself in a generation where we are between a rock and a hard place. Growing up many of us were pushed into higher education, only to come out and be shoved into the conveyor belt of a workforce during an economic recession. I find that millennials have high expectations of life, a generally optimistic outlook, and are willing to work for what we want… even if that means long work hours and minimal pay, benefits, and no option of a pension plan, not to mention the inequities created by former generations between genders and races.
I finished my bachelor’s degree in (the not-so-standard) four years– because let’s face it, when you’re required to take courses like “The History of Rock” and “Earth Science” you’re typically stuck taking a good 5 years to get through a bachelor’s degree. I left school with a sizable amount of debt, but I was more practical about my student loans than many (I went to a state school, had grants, scholarships, and didn’t live in campus housing… certainly saving me thousands.) I quickly got a decent job. I had a small savings account, paid my bills, went to work, paid my debts, practiced my frugality…ate a lot of Spaghetti-O’s.
I got married, to someone I dated for 5 years. After being married 3 years, we had a baby (which we planned for, both in the sense of family planning and financially.) Being a millennial mom is not for the weak.
Millennial moms are an entirely new breed of women. Many of us don’t have the option to stay home to care for children, because financially some of us are monetary equals or more. We juggle caring for a house, children, our spouses, personal finances, all while maintaining an external career from the home (I say external career from the home, because I firmly believe that being a stay at home mother is also a career, and a demanding one.) Even then, women that stay home are often multi-tasking, couponing machines just to be able to afford the basics. And, unless you’re upper-middle class or better, it’s unlikely you can afford full-time child care at a decent organization.
But having a job outside of the home comes with some serious implications. I get my child ready, get myself ready, somehow manage to look professional enough, and put myself into business mode. Do you know how difficult it is to go from focusing on giving your child puffs and their sippy cup, or changing the diaper of a flailing infant, to managing the finances of a company? These things are night and day, and almost require me to be two totally different people.
I’m tired of hearing how lazy millennials are. If there’s a lazy bone in my body, it only exists when my child finally falls asleep for that brief hour I have before I head to bed. Even then, that hour is usually spent cleaning up from the chaos of the day, managing my side businesses (2,) paying bills… and occasionally spent watching Mad Men on Netflix.
I may not speak for everyone, but I know I speak for the majority. I am not entitled, and I have worked for everything I have. If anything, we have a new generation of men and women that are striving to be equally employed, responsible for children and finances, and work collectively to get things done. As women we fight the glass ceiling and stigmas pushed upon us to create something better for our own children, but at the same time… we are still expected to take care of our homes and families. Don’t get me wrong– I think MANY men are stepping up to the plate to help with these tasks, but certainly not all and not always to the extent they should. Being a woman now means doing everything that men do, plus more. I’m not here on my soapbox to complain about how hard I work, but I am here to say CUT IT OUT with the “lazy millennial” crap.
*Steps down from soapbox.*