I’m lucky…for a Millennial. I got the perfect internship junior year of college, which I was able to keep (and make money from) until I graduated. After graduation, I got a real job in the field for which I had gotten my degree. From there, I was able to climb the hypothetical ladder to better jobs and even greater opportunities. I love what I do. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’m not living below the poverty line (as I just learned one in five people my age are) or in my parent’s home. I’m lucky…for a Millennial.
I say this because I know many people my own age who have not been so lucky. We went to the same school, took the same classes, got the same letters of recommendation…and yet we have not been hit by this never-ending recession in the same way.
To be honest, I sometimes find myself trying to distance myself from The Millennial stigma – after all we’re lazy, entitled slackers who were taught that all you have to do to “win” is show up, right? Maybe.
It’s true, I grew up in a “PC” world where people tried to hide from us as long as possible that not everyone is equal. We were told we all have a fair chance to make it. But that’s just not so. And we’re starting to realize that.
And this is why the recession has been so devastating to us: we grew up, went to school, got (expensive) higher education and expected there to be opportunities out there for us to snatch up. But there weren’t. There aren’t. For the first time ever, my generation (as a whole) won’t be better off than our parents.
It might be hard, in fact, to create a generation more metaphysically ill-equipped to adjust to this new tough-shit world. Yet some of us, somehow, are dealing pretty well.
But when I really look at it, I realize that I am a Millennial no matter how much I try to deny it and I do have some of the tendencies commonly associated with my peers. Though I do find it ironic that we are labeled “entitled” and “arrogant” by the same generation that passed out the clip-art Certificates of Participation to us just for showing up. The generation that taught us self-esteem was key.
The cold hard truth is that we are not all Big Thinkers. Not everyone can/will change the world. Some of us will just converge into each other – into everyday life. But it’s our digital lifestyle – the proximity to those who are all of those amazing things – that makes us think that we will obviously succeed, too.
Thanks to social networks, we can follow Mark Zuckerberg’s every move. We can read Pete Cashmore’s every Tweeted thought – they feel like friends. “One of us.” But it’s important to remember that proximity to greatness doesn’t equal greatness.
I’m not saying I’m on the level of Mark or Pete, but rather pointing out that I know I’m lucky. I appreciate the opportunities I’ve been given and am looking forward to continuing to contribute in a meaningful, and perhaps Millennial way – and I hope I can lend a hand, or at least support, to some of my fellow Millennials as we all look to do something good, even if it’s just “liking” someone else’s good.