The label for our generation gets banded around so frequently that it's almost become a stigma.
Tech addicts, self obsessed, unreliable... the list goes on.
Here's the thing. I'm actually really proud to be a "millennial", I feel incredibly lucky to live in the era that I do.
Let's start by defining what a "millennial" actually is. Really, it's anyone born between 1979 and 1996, which means with a 20 year difference in the oldest and youngest "millennials", we're the most divided generation yet. "Old millennial" vs "young millennial" is now a largely recognised phenomenon thanks to the occurrence of two major events: The financial crisis and the emergence of smartphones. Whether you fall into "young millennial" or "old millennial" depends on your age at the time of these, either still school age or just entering the workforce. The theory seems to hold up - I can clearly see differences in the way I use social media and look at jobs compared to my older millennial counterparts: I Instagram and Snapchat everything, whereas others check Twitter once a week.
Either way, we get quite a bit of stick from our baby boomer parents, and, at the risk of living up to the stereotypical "overly defensive" millennial, here's why we're not all as bad as you think...
1. I'm addicted to social media, but is it all that bad?
Ok, so it's the reason we're the most anxious and self-critical generation yet. Yep, I get FOMO, and I get it bad. But, on the flip side, social media has meant I've met so many people and been able to take advantage of so many opportunities that would have been unheard of in my parent's time. Apps, startups, social media marketing, blogging....so much of what my life is built upon just wouldn't be there.
2. I'm flakey and flit from job to job and place to place.
Well the title of my blog is "the fifth project"... but I'd rather poke my eyes out than spend years of my life stuck in a job that isn't fulfilling just because I "should". I'm proud of the fact the so many millennials are absolutely killing it by forging their own careers, building business out of doing what we love. Millennials have got the entrepreneurial bug big-time, in fact 49% of Millennials hope to start a business within the next three years, and I'd argue against anyone who says that's a bad thing.
3. We're entitled.
Hell yes, I'm entitled. What's so wrong with expecting the good things in life, especially if I'm prepared to work hard to get them? And I'm not just talking about physical "stuff", I'm proud to be part of a generation that stands up and expects things like real gender equality, fights racism and other unfortunate facts of life that somehow still aren't just a thing of the past. Occasionally we hear how "life must be very hard for your generation, not able to afford a house, dealing with Brexit and all the other political messes, etc etc..." I don't feel hard done by though. We're lucky to live in a time where we can change and adapt quickly, and have the mindset of not settling and instead looking for a better way to do things.
4. Contrary to popular opinion, we're actually not that materialistic.
Millennials spend more on experiences than products, fact. Now, that might be to do with how we all need to look like we're having the best time on instagram and always need a decent snapchat story, but I'm pretty sure spending my cash on socialising with my friends will make me happier than sitting in my cushy new-build home alone with a pile of stuff and a mortgage.
5. Which brings me on to the housing thing
No, I'm not settled into a suburb with a mortgage just yet, I might have moved back home 3 times since leaving uni (true story), but it's just not a priority. I'd rather build a business and have the freedom to take it anywhere in the world before I settle into a comfy 2-bed (if I ever have enough for a deposit...) Travelling, living in cities all over the world and with all sorts of people is life enriching and if I don't do it now, then when?
So next time I get the eye roll and "you're so millennial", I'm going to say yeah, I am. I'm fiercely determined to make my own way in life, to make the world a better place and experience everything it has to offer. If that makes me a millennial, then I'll take that.
So long as our phones don't run out of battery, we can conquer anything...