A story of a so-called spoiled Millennial
Spoiled, feeling entitled, not wanting to work hard, unreliable, generation me: this is just a fraction of how the world sees us Millennials. Before jumping up and shout "Easy for you to say from your corporate throne", I thought of doing some introspection. Are we who they say that we are? Although, we should step away from the one-size-fits-all Millennial image, I do believe that the era we grew up in did have a lot of influence on how we as Millennials think and act as we do. Therefore, I think we should ask ourselves a different question: Being seen as a spoilt Millennial, is it entirely our fault?
Growing up with Happy Meals
"All I want for you is to be happy". This is what all parents explicitly or implicitly want for their children. Even though they might not agree with how happiness is filled in by Millennials, they worked hard to give us the opportunities that they did not have. Having found out that my parents grew up without running water, I understand completely that they wanted to give us a better life than they had. Including all the McDonald's Happy Meals and mass produced toys that were on the rise in the First World. Education was for most Millennial parents not a given, nor were piano lessons and shopping for 2 dollar t-shirts at the H&M. As toddler Millennials, we did not know any better than to grow up in a world with wealth. But who created this greedy, capitalistic empire of mass consumption? Aren't they the ones that call us spoiled today, while probably being parents of fellow Millennials?
While we fooled around on the internet creating silly email addresses and talking to strangers in chat rooms, new businesses driven by information and online products were popping up like pop ups from Altavista. In other words, a world of excess in products, information and most dangerously, choice, became our norm. Add this to the transition from 156 kbps to 1G, and the "on demand" seed was planted in our minds. Our parents just replaced their car radio with a CD player, but we already discovered the endless possibilities on Napster. Having so much time on our hands between homework and class, we learned quickly how to find information, news, use email, update PC's and so on. For the first time our parents asked us for help, they learned from us, they needed us (and still do). As a result, we felt smarter. But as teenagers, incapable to self-reflect, wasn't it inevitable not to feel a bit superior than our old folks? Yet again, it was not our underaged brain that invented e-commerce and dial up modems. Who created this environment for us?
Something with mortgage bonds
"Stay in school", they tell us. It guarantees our financial security and success. And as we were told, between Breezers and beer pong, we studied hard to eventually find a job that will make our parents proud. But then one day, shit hit the fan. Big companies ran out of money and were barely surviving. By the time we graduated, our jobs were gone. Companies only wanted the special unicorns, the so-called high potentials. With thousand applicants for one position, they had the power to choose. To lure these wanted ponies, they made their companies as appealing as possible. They would tell us that we are the future, the generation that grew up with internet, the walking geniuses. We would change their business into the new Google, Airbnb and Uber (fun fact: none of the big ones, except for Facebook, was founded by a real Millennial). So we get hyped up to work for these revolutionary companies and do anything that make them pick us. From extracurricular events to adopting ridiculous interests, we were even willing to pay for another Masters degree. Once we're in, we are welcomed like rock stars. Just another status that made us feel special.
Identity crisis of the corporate dinosaurs
The dinosaurs hired us for change. Their market share is losing rapidly, technology is making baby boomers redundant, their golden formula does not work anymore. But are they ready for change? Just like when we hit our thirties, defining who we want to be, these companies go through the same phase. They realize that they need to change their ancient business models to stay ahead of all these lean, savvy startups. Their fate is uncertain. They want to learn from us, but are too afraid to act on it. While organizing all these fun think tanks to pick our brain, they bury us with boring excel spreadsheets. Because "What do you know about business? You were still in your diapers when I made my first deal! You need to earn your stripes!" In times of fear they hold on to what they know, and any different thought or vision will be crushed. Unfortunately, Millennials happen to have these "rebellious", purposeful, out of the box ideas. These mixed messages are just confusing: First they praise us for being change agents, next they call us spoiled. Make up your mind!
Are we spoiled?
Our experiences might made us believe that our no. 1 goal in life and job is happiness (what our parents worked so hard for), that we are smarter than the older generations, that there is always greener grass available, that having things on demand is a given, that we are the rock stars of the 21st century. But was it entirely our idea to think this way? Did we have a fair choice to think differently?
No, we don't think that we should be a working slave for forty years to only enjoy life when we are retired. No, we don't believe in doing lame work, when we know our talents can be of better use. No, we don't believe that someone can only be of value when it has twenty years of working experience. Yes, to a better quality of life, to make conscious choices, to do what you love, to have a purpose. Is this such a bad mind set?
We know that we are privileged to have grown up with such wealth and opportunities without working for it. Now we want to give back. To show that this investment was not of waste, that we're not here just to enjoy the seeds that are sown for us. With the world having paved our way, we believe that we can create a positive impact, to be of real value. Some call this entitled or spoiled, I call it driven by aspiration. Haters gonna hate, so rock on you superstar Millennial!