A Message From Millennials: Why You’ve Got Us All Wrong
Millennials: Growing up, we’re told that the world is ours; we can do and achieve practically anything we want. Except, there’s something missing. There’s a piece of the puzzle of our lives that just isn’t sitting right.
How is it that millennials have the most professional opportunities of any generation, yet we are often also the most disappointed with our personal lives? Why do we jump from job to job with minimal satisfaction and that nagging feeling that we just aren’t making an impact in the workforce?
How do we have so many career options, yet we’re still so conflicted about our future?
An abundance of choice and the pressure to make it big in life are the conflicting components of many millennial lives. both outright blessings and hidden curses at the same time for us millennials. And all too often these components of our lives impact us in a way that causes us to choose what’s easy or what we think that society wants us to do.
This isn’t the case for all millennials, per se, but I know that I am certainly feeling frustrated in my own professional path, which actually looks a lot more like a maze lately.
I want to be an entrepreneur. It’s as simple as that. I’ll even break it down for you further and say that I want to open my own 100% vegan cafe—a hub for people in my neighbourhood to come together over affordable, delicious plant-based food and catch up on life. I want to partner with other local businesses in my neighbourhood to support those that are in the same boat. And most importantly, I want to work in a career that lets me share my passion for plant-based food with others. Simple, right?
So why is it so difficult for me to start chipping away at this so-called dream? Why do I feel the need to take a completely contrasting, more corporate focused path when I know what exactly what I want to do for a career? And that’s where the great millennial dilemma comes into play.
They say that “the world is my oyster”, but right now, I feel a lot more like an actual oyster than someone who has the world at their fingertips. In other words, I feel small, incapable and stuck in one place. Despite having a world of choice, I feel directed and pushed toward a corporate path because that’s the right path to take to success… according older generations. And yes, I have a multitude of options in arms reach, but to me, they don’t feel like the right options.
I want to step out of my comfort zone and I want to take a genuine professional risk. The only problem is that A) I don’t have the necessary business knowledge B) I’m a millennial, so undoubtedly, I’m conflicted by my many other options and C) I’m so financially insecure I can’t even afford to move out of my parents house, let alone start a business.
And thus, the cycle begins. I join the corporate workforce in marketing (or so I’m trying to), feeling unmotivated and uninspired. Is it any wonder that I will probably still feel this way once I finally find a job?
You see, previous generations think they have us figured out. But in truth, our millennial lives are exceptionally more complicated than anyone ever thought.
And the best part is, we don’t even know how to figure out our own problems.
We’re a part of what I like to call a lost generation. The one that’s slowly getting away. Passionate and motivated, yet indecisive and confused. We want to make a difference, but we don’t know how to go about doing it in a way that fits society’s current model of professional success. We face some of the highest living, education and housing costs of any generation and we are the most over qualified generation to ever enter the workforce. We want to listen to Joseph Campbell and follow our bliss, yet we feel like we can’t because we don’t know how to balance our dreams and everyday needs.
So we get a job. We get a corporate job that pays the bills. We get a job that we are overqualified for and not nearly passionate enough about. And then somewhere in the process, we lose our drive and feel stuck where we are. We work for someone else’s dream instead of our own because that is the way it’s been in the past—and it worked for our parents. A job was a job. A career was a means to an end.
If I had a five dollar bill for every time my father spoke in eager anticipation of his retirement, I would be just as wealthy as him and maybe twice as happy. And of course, these comments are typically followed by a persuasive lecture on the importance of finding a high paying career right after graduation. The irony astounds me.
You see, we’re not quite the failures, drop-outs or quitters they say we are. We’re simply dream chasers. And risk takers. We’re a generation that refuses to take 9-5 as a set schedule and we understand the need for new and innovative businesses, ideas and ways of living. Without our willingness to step outside the professional box, we’d be doing the same things today that have always been done in the past.
And anyone who knows anything about progress knows that this is a dead-end for all positive societal change.
We know very well what we’re passionate about, we just need help and support turning these passions into both a career and a lifestyle.
We don’t need false encouragement or a heightened sense of entitlement–yes, I’m talking to all the mothers out there who want their child to reach for the stars. We need to be told that if we want something badly enough we should work our asses off to get it. We need a network of support and an outlet for expressing our dreams without judgement.
We need to get back in touch with our inner child that once upon a time wanted to be the next president of the United States without sarcasm or exaggeration. That child knew wholeheartedly what he or she wanted and did not give a hoot about what their parents or peers thought.
We need education that gives us practical skills in the discipline we want to excel at. We do not need a four-year, $50,000 institutionalized education that sucks us in and funnels us out into structured careers.
We need a community that wants to see us succeed and most importantly, we need to stop being stereotyped as the generation that has been handed our lives on a silver platter. With a mindset like this, how will we ever motivate ourselves to make our own success?
Our generation is a product of our upbringing. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept what we’ve been labelled as. The world may not be our oyster, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of our control. Let’s take back our dreams and get back on track to fulfilling our passions.