If a had a penny for every article I’ve read that was a message for millennials, I’d have a lot of pennies. There’s a lot of mixed messages out there for millennials. Are we good, bad or indifferent? Lazy or we go getters? Are we going to change the world or we going to stay living in our mom’s basement forever?
I too have mixed feelings about millennials. Supposedly, we’re the ones that break all the social norms and change the world. In some ways I see that. Our rally behind Bernie Sanders was pretty incredible. We’ve come up some of the best technology, we show the world how to accept others, and we care about the issues facing our world. We see the injustice, care about more than making money, and we have creative solutions.
But I also see the other side. I see millennials making more than parents and still not moving out. And the opposite, millennials who complain about the injustice of everything and still don’t work more than part time and minimum wage. There’s a lot of whining and not a lot of getting hands dirty. I see a LOT of selfies.
When I first had the idea for this article, my message for millennials was we should give ourselves a break. And in some ways that true. Millennials have it rough. So much is expected of us, but at the same time nothing is expected of us. We’re called self-centered, lazy and entitled. We’re told time after time, if we don’t get a degree, we’re going to fail eternally at life.
Then those same people hike up the tuition so high, there’s no way you could pay for it a reasonable amount of time. So then we graduate, with crap loads of debt, but we can’t find a job to pay it off. Guess where they are? Being hogged up by the same generation that told us we’re worthless for not going to college and the same people who say we’re stupid for racking up college debt. Quite a few things have changed since that generation went to college. Yes, people always had to work their way up, but the retirement age was significantly lower then. Also, the rate of inflation for college tuition is astronomical.
In 1950, a family sending their child to the University of Pennsylvania would only spend 18 percent of their annual income (if they paid in cash) to send their kid to study. Today it would consume 79 percent of gross annual income. Even if we look at net take home pay a regular family in no way could send their child to school without going into massive student debt.
I was going to say what if we’re not the lazy generation, but the efficient one? Why are we lazy for not wanting to go to college when there is a whole world of resources that we can look into for free?
Instead of waiting our turn and waiting until we’re 50, the elders finally retire, we’re going to do our own thing. Some might call it lazy or selfish, but we call it living.
Yes, we do live with mom and dad because we aren’t able to find a job that pays more than minimum wage because ‘we’re paying our dues’. Minimum wage times 40 hours= about $1,200 before taxes. Tell me, on what planet can a person find an apartment, pay the bills, plus all the extras that come up, buy food and still be able to save? It’s just not possible. For that reason, it’s hard not to play into their message for millennials- that we have no place in the workforce.
As a side note, I should say I KNOW not all millennials out there doing great things. They’re in the news, I read about them and I think wow! But I feel like those are the exceptions, not the rule. Those people who are the exceptions or know the exceptions might take issue with the next part, but I’m not talking about you. The rest of us need a pep in our step.
And in a lot of ways these things are true. Seeing that I haven’t been alive to see how easy or hard the other generations had it, it’s kind of hard for me to really know, if we’re better or worse off than the other. I do see a unique situation that other generations haven’t faced. But in a lot of ways, I know that’s a bunch of crap. There’s a reason I don’t spend a lot of time with my co-millennials and that’s simply because I can’t stand them. We got everything handed to us when we were kids and now we expect our dreams to be handed to us as well. We don’t want just a job, we want the standard of living our parents have when we haven’t earned it. And if I run into another person, who has stopped to take a selfie, I’m going to take their phone and smash it.
Yes, we want to change the world because the generations before us messed it all. We cry and wah, because the world isn’t right. But how do we go about doing that? Well, we post pictures with deep sayings and memes pointing out the hypocrisy in the world. I hate to say it, but that’s not really going to change anything. We’re going to actually get off our parent’s couches and get our hands dirty. We’re playing into their message for millennials- we’re lazy and self-centered.
As far as student loans go, it’s understandable for millennials to be upset. Our folks told us to go to college, told us we won’t amount to much we don’t go, so we went. Now, we have all this debt and we still can’t a job for more than $7.50 an hour. But then again, I know quite a few students, who switched their major several times, instead of saving money they partied their way through school. Now, instead of finding ways to develop what they learned in school while looking for their dream job, they’re just complaining on their mom’s couch waiting for the perfect job to find them. Sorry, but a piece of paper doesn’t prove anything. Develop a portfolio, start a project, start your dream job in your mom’s basement, find the people who need it and find a way to get paid for it.
Why we’re not moving out on our own? Yes, the average student is walking away with a piece of paper that’s worth about $15,000 to $33,000 in debt. They’re putting off getting married, buying cars and houses because they simply can’t afford it. Many millennials graduated in the middle of the recession, so what are they supposed to do? Get a job? That’s madness!
Make Your Own Way
Yes, I get it. It’s infuriating to owe $33,000 in debt and still have to go work at McDonalds. It seems like the worst. Absolute worst. But sitting on your mom’s couch, not doing anything is so much worse. Seriously, go get a job. Any job. Work on your dream on the side, build up a network and a reputation and slowly work your hours down at the job you hate and replace it with your new income. You don’t need people’s permission or the perfect opportunity to do what you love, you just do it. Make a place for yourself. Millennials can change the world, but first they need to get over themselves.
And while you’re at it, put down the $5 coffee, cancel your Spotify and all your monthly box subscriptions, and yes you can live without the latest smart phone.
Message for Millennials
The thing I love is that millennials can change the world. We have the right tools. The disdain for corrupt institutions, the question of all traditions. My message for millennials is that we can’t allow these older generation to keep us down through debt and lack of jobs. It’s not all about happiness and rewards, but being able to look in the mirror and know we made a difference. Stop posting memes. Get out there and do something.
Next week I will get into more details about the steps we need to take make a difference in our communities and in our world.