I turn 23 this year.
By definition, I’m a millennial. I’m also in the strawberry generation.
It almost sounds like a virus when you put the two terms together - “millennial in the strawberry generation”, like something you’d cover your mouth for.
“Millennial in the strawberry generation.
Ah, bless you.”
Here are some commonly used adjectives to describe us: entitled, lazy, needy, and fragile.
So, let’s hear it from a millennial.
Why are we the way that we are? Are we really so entitled/lazy/needy/fragile?
Do we really need to be mollycoddled all the time?
I think we aren’t, in fact, we’re rather misunderstood.
Before you furiously type your “tHiS sTuPiD mIlLleNnIaL nO bIg No SmAlL cAlL aDuLtS sTupId” and “tHiS iS ExAcTly wHy MilLlEnNiAls ArE EnTitLeD aNd SPOILT!!!!!11!1!!!1!1!” comments, I acknowledge that there are people out there that tick all of the Bloody Entitled Millennial™ characteristics.
This is an attempt to understand the stereotypes that have been thrown at us over and over again.
And maybe try and explain why not all these stereotypes should stick.
Stereotype #1: We’re not “entitled”, we just know what we want.
You’ve probably heard this general sentiment before.
“Millennials are bloody entitled, they expect things to be handed to them, wah lao they think they big shot ah?”
But we don’t expect things to be handed to us.
Maybe I am self-entitled. But it’s because I work hard for something and I know that I deserve something in return.
Is that being entitled? Perhaps.
In addition, people may not be that receptive to ideas that millennials bring to the conversation or the table.
They would rather stick with the “that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality.
Everyone wants to be heard and respected. It’s not just a millennial-specific thing, so it’s frustrating when we are considered inferior because of our age.
I was speaking to an industry senior once at a conference, and it was quite an infuriating experience.
Within minutes, he lambasted my generation, saying: “Millennials are so entitled nowadays. It’s so difficult to hire good workers from that generation. They just expect things to be handed to them without wanting to work for it.”
I didn’t manage to get a word in.
While I agree that there are some millennials that truly believe they deserve everything without having to work for it, generalization is a dangerous thing.
Writing off all millennials as entitled kids may not be ideal if you want to hire good employees.
Now, if they show that they’re entitled over the course of their work, then sure, call them whatever you want.
Stereotype #2: We’re not lazy, we just look for meaning in what we do.
Millennials love their technology. We’re always on our phones or laptops.
But some people may think that being reliant on technology makes us “lazy”, because we “don’t put in the effort to learn something”.
Need to learn how to do something? We can Google it, find out how to do it, and apply.
After all, it takes only a few minutes, and we pulled it up from the internet - so easy, right?
Unfortunately, this may translate to being “lazy” to some of our older peers because we’re putting in lesser time and effort into learning something.
But it’s just more efficient. If there’s a better and faster way to do it with technology, it makes no sense to do it the “old” way.
Millennials are purpose-driven, too. We look for meaning in what we do. It sucks when we’re stuck in a boring, mind-numbing job because we’re not actively being motivated to work.
Which might be perceived as laziness.
I can understand why. But let’s look at it this way - the lack of energy towards the work may just be because we’re not engaged enough.
Our parents’ generation may have had to work jobs that they had no passion for in order to maintain their families. I commend them for that.
But that doesn’t mean we need to do the same - it’s a different struggle now.
Stereotype #3: We’re not “needy”, we’re just curious and eager to learn.
We don’t need someone to handhold us 24/7. We don’t need to be coddled or protected. We just want to learn.
We want to grow in our career, but also actively learn from someone who's more experienced.
As compared to being told what to do without reason or understanding - which is frustrating. We don’t learn from being ordered around.
So we ask questions. We ask why we’re doing what we do. To the older folks, incessant questioning may seem like we are questioning their authority.
When we don’t know something, we ask questions. That doesn’t mean we’re stupid or clueless. We’re willing to learn.
But we want to develop our skill set. And that can’t be achieved by just being ordered around and not having people to learn from.
Stereotype #4: We’re not “fragile” and “easily bruised”, we just want constructive criticism.
We would rather constructive criticism than being yelled at for no discernible reason.
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually ways to criticize without yelling or lashing out.
What worked in the 90s, might not necessarily work now. I don’t think it is “fragile” to want well-meaning constructive criticism.
Perhaps that method instilled resilience, and that’s how most people in the older generation were taught.
But it also creates a strong fear of failure and screwing up.
Making mistakes is part of the learning process. If I’m constantly being yelled at and criticized harshly, I’d be terrified to fail, and tip-toeing around everyone in the workplace.
If anything, I’d be learning how to not get yelled at by my boss. That’s how you get meek employees who are afraid to speak up in a toxic work environment. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Millennials aren’t the “strawberry generation” anymore.
Slipping into the mindset of “I know better than them because I am older and more experienced” is easy.
So is resenting millennials and the strawberry generation because they’re young.
But it’s a different time now. It’s not the 80s and the 90s anymore. To put it bluntly, we don’t share the same struggle.
We’re in a different economy now, and we have to fight differently for the same things boomers fought for when they were our age.
In the end, we all desire the same things. We, too, want a stable income, a roof over our heads, and a job we enjoy.
And I don’t think that’s entitled or “strawberry” at all.
Perhaps non-millennials can try to stop looking at millennials through the “I Am Older And More Experienced ∴ Better Than You” lens.
Likewise, millennials should not look at non-millennials through a ‘You’re Too Old To Understand us’ lens.
So that we can both look at it through the “What Can We Learn From Each Other?” lens.
Good lens to have. Can gain lots of knowledge. 10/10 would wear. Leads to fewer misunderstandings with better communication, too. Yay.
For more millennial stories, do check out https://e2i.com.sg/digital/lets-talk-millennials
This article was brought to you by e2i, which keeps this “millennial in the strawberry generation” writer employed.