Millennials – Who are we?

Before I dive into what makes us who we are, let me just say these are just generalizations. Obviously no two people are exactly the same. But growing up in the same time frame and under the same circumstances, makes all Millennials more similar than those born in generations before us.

You can claim all you want that this “does not apply to you” but most of this is based on scientific research. So, read on!

Are you a Millennial?

Unlike the Baby Boomers (our parents) born between 1946-1964, there is no definitive range of birth years for Millennials. From my research, you are a Millennial if you were born anywhere between the early 1980’s to the mid-1990’s, some articles go as far as the early 2000’s.

Aka, you are a Millennial, if you did most of your growing up in the 90’s and early 2000’s.  The term Millennial was coined by two researchers with the last names Strauss and Howe. Before that we were called Generation Y (the one after generation X, so original) and you will also hear us called Generation Me.

Millennials are now the largest generation in America with 83.1 million of us, overtaking the Baby Boomers who were previously the largest generation America had ever seen. Not only are we the biggest by population, we now make up a majority of the American workforce. With Millennials entering the workplace, this is the first time in American history that three generations have worked at the same time.  

What makes Millennials unique from other generations? (Based on research) 

The common and unique characteristics detailed below were found through research on the internet. I used a good mix of primary and secondary sources.

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Workplace. Millennials now make up more of the workforce than any other generation. Even though we have the largest unemployment rate, and are financially less well off than other generations, we are the most optimistic about our futures. Crazy right? We have a positive outlook on our futures even with all of the roadblocks we’ve faced, like the ‘08 financial crisis.

As I previously mentioned, we are the first generation to experience working with 2 other generations in the office. It’s us against, Generation X and the retired and soon to be retiring Baby Boomers. Both generations apparently don’t like us very much either because we’re “entitled” (whatever that means).

Education.  Millennials are more educated than previous generations but will be paid less throughout our careers. Most Millennials graduated into the height or residual effects of the ‘08 financial crisis, later dubbed 2008 Great Recession.

Because of said Recession and increasing college tuition, we are battling an increasing amount of student debt with lower pay. To top it off, after we graduate we are moving back in with our parents at higher rates to save money. Or what some people cutely call it, boomeranging back home.  

Social and Political. Millennials are less likely to be religious than generations before us and are growing increasingly negative about religion. We are a generation of non-investors, skeptical and uneducated about the stock market.

Even though your Facebook and Instagram feed seem otherwise, less of us are getting married or when we do get married, it is at an older age than generations before us. Millennials are also more likely than other generations to identify as politically independent. We don’t like to label ourselves. We prefer not to strongly identify with a particular political party.

What makes us unique from other generations? (based on personal experience) 

The common and unique characteristics detailed below were found through my own personal experiences.

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Quarter-life Crisis. No matter what you call it, most Millennials go through a crisis in their 20’s consisting of questions about what the hell they should do for the rest of their lives. Questioning who they are and why they aren’t doing more. We thought that by now we’d be doing everything we had dreamed of and told we would be able to do if we “put our mind to it.” Unfortunately for most of us, that’s not true.

To add a weird cherry on top, a lot of us feel like old souls. We are only in our 20’s but act like we are grandmas and grandpas. We stay in, curled up in bed, on Saturday nights wondering why anyone would want to deal with another hangover. 

Experiences. Money is good, money is great but it has nothing over experiences, fulfillment, and self-actualization. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say they want a job where they feel fulfilled but if I had a dollar for every time, I would be able to fund my no-income writer lifestyle.

We also have this thing called FOMO (the fear of missing out). We are so overstimulated with things to do and we want to do them all. This motivator forces us to do things but at the same time makes us commitment phobic. We are always looking for the best thing to do and are afraid to say “yes” because what if something better comes up? 

Our Minds. We all live with fairly open minds. Okay, some minds are more open than others but I’d say we are the most tolerant and open to things that are different from us. After growing up exposed to pretty much everything you can possibly imagine thanks to the internet, I think we have been programmed to be tolerant.

We are not only open to changes but are proactive in making ones we want. As entitled as we may seem to those on the outside, we are a force that will bring about not just tolerance but just acceptance of those who are different from we are. I mean, who cares? I live my life and you live yours. 

So, are you a Millennial? How do you compare to the majority of our generation? Do you agree or identify with my experiences?


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