Fill in the blanks. Lazy? Selfish? Entitled? Privileged? Snowflakes?
Millennials often get some strong labels attached to them and chances are that if you are one, you have heard at least one of these terms used for you, most commonly to dismiss your struggles and opinions.
Humanity is evolving faster than ever, so the world looks much different to what it did decades ago. This means that the opportunities and demands for us are also very different. This massive generation gap also makes millennials incredibly misunderstood, which leads to an entire generation of youth feeling like they are doing something wrong.
It can be damaging for society to have its youngest members grow up not knowing that they are capable of doing so much for the world, which is why I would like to offer some encouragement and say to millennials: own it.
Own your identity. Yes, we have many imperfections that many others will not hesitate to call you out on. But we also have a fire in us that has never been seen before, so here is why you should be proud to call yourself a millennial.
Call us diverse and unique
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities” – Stephen R. Covey. Millennials are defined by their appreciation of diversity and individuality. These are traits that are not just tolerated, but also celebrated by us.
We firstly acknowledge that everyone is different, then encourage them to stand out, not fall in line. Let each other know that their identity is their strength, not flaw. Their thoughts, their memories, their perspective of the world is unique and hence invaluable to the rest of us.
And by opening our ears to friends from other backgrounds, we are letting in the idea that we do not know everything and that our way of life is not the only valid way of life. Together, by creating a culture of sharing and learning, we are raising ourselves (and our children) to be humble, open- minded, and curious. We are teaching each other the power of listening rather than projecting ourselves.
For this reason, being inclusive of people regardless of their differences is not just regulation, it is the way we thrive as a community.
Call us creators and communicators
Two words: social media. It is accountable for much of our strengths and weaknesses, where the former is often overlooked.
With Facebook being founded in 2004 and YouTube in 2005, many of us were practically raised by the Internet. These websites, along with many others, have changed the way we communicate with each other in the 21 st century. Owing to the speed and convenience with which we can generate and share material now, we have managed to inspire an entire generation of content creators, and our art comes in the shape of blogs, videos, photos (and memes).
On a larger scale, this means that a lot of us are realising our potential to innovate and influence. We are finding newer ways to make our voice heard by enough people and are constantly evolving to meet the demands of our audiences. And if are learning to do this at a young age, what is stopping us from using our skills to become influential leaders? Millennials should know that they have the tools and the talents to empower others.
Call us aware and active
Not only are we are the most educated generation so far in history, we are also the most informed. As well as turning us into innovators, social media is also turning us into activists. Our engagement with global development is becoming embedded into our lifestyles, and this is being reflected very strongly in our actions and our behaviours.
We focus on social problems on a macro level, and follow up on this by volunteering abroad more than previous generations. We demand social responsibility from businesses and try to hold brands accountable for the decisions they make. We understand the importance of egalitarianism and strive to make the world a better place for everyone to live in, not just ourselves.
The world’s issues affect us on a personal level –this has made us more empathetic and conscious of the way we treat others around us. Not only do we have progressive attitudes towards gender, sexuality and race, but we also have an entrepreneurial mindset towards solving problems, along with providing education, employment and healthcare to future generations.
Call us travellers and explorers
You might have seen this remarkable video by Global Degree called Dear Older Generations, which talks about the existence of millennial travellers. In this, it explains how our desire to travel is deeper than just enjoyment; it is about challenging societal expectations and experiencing the world in a different way.
In fact, for the first time in history, an entire age group favours buying flight tickets to buying homes. Perhaps this is because we realise that – like the video says – ‘the entire world is our workspace, our classroom, and our home’. We understand that it is unreasonable to confine ourselves to four walls and a ceiling at the expense of missing out on learning from the entire planet.
As millennials, we seem understand the importance of gaining experiences that could not be gained from having a stationary life. We understand that being an explorer is not about searching for what develops our CVs, but about what develops our character. It is not just about exploring the world, it is about exploring yourself.
It is about everything I have already spoken about that millennials stand for: appreciating other cultures, being connected, being educated and being aware of the world around us.