Today I read yet another pessimistic account of the future of millennials. This time it was a CNN article titled “Millennials born in the 1980s may never recover from the Great Recession”. It made me mad.
The article stated that those born in the 80s have seen lower wealth levels than expected. It had an alarming tone stating that homeownership is low and that most people in this group are highly in debt with student loans, credit cards, and auto loans. It attempted to have a redemptive end in sight stating that millennials still had plenty of time on their side and that essentially they can still catch up.
As a millennial myself I am tired of feeling denigrated. All over we are spoken of as if we are still children. We millennials are not children anymore. We range from about 22 to about 36.
Everywhere older folks complain about our entitlement, disloyalty, and impatience. I see a different story, one where we have been swindled and duped. We have been consistently encouraged to go to school and educate ourselves in a time when it is easier than ever to learn things online. Yes there are benefits to getting a formal education; however, in the working world experience is so highly valued that it often times it deems education secondary. So then the question becomes, if our education won’t convince you to hire us then why do you emphasize that point make us jump through that hoop? In fact, often times I have felt that education can be a hindrance when many of the older people you are working with do not posses as much of an education and rely so heavily on their experience. They don’t particularly want to hire a “smart young person” it threatens their position in the pack.
Next, many of these older folks just won’t go away! Retire already, for goodness sake relinquish your throne. Many of these older people are not very savvy with technology and require the assistance of the younger generations to get them through anyway. At this point many are becoming an obstacle to the advancement of the younger workforce, the companies they work for, and the economy at large. Not only that, often they lack the know-how and vision to carry out strategic plans that could be game changers.
As much as arrogance exists on the younger end, it also exists on the older end. If millennials are not thriving as much as they should be, it is in large part because we have been misguided to follow antiquated ideas for how success is achieved, we are still perceived as children, and not trusted or given enough opportunity to learn and develop ourselves as professionals.
Employees over 40 often get many considerations and legal protections; I say what about the younger folks? Who is looking out for the continued success of our youth. Sure, we like to think that time is on our side and that plenty of opportunities will come but in truth it seems like our time is now and there is little consideration for how our status of being at the mercy of the older folks in endangering our livelihood now and for the future.
Millennials are holding off on everything in life–homeownership, marriage, and children. We like to say that it’s because ideals have changed, but perhaps we don’t want to admit the shameful truth that it’s less because of changing social norms and more because of our inability to attain these things due to lack of income, wealth, and status.
I often hear young people say, “I still have so much to accomplish, I don’t want to settle down yet.” Much of the time that sounds like the polite way to avoid stating the truth that we can’t afford that wedding or that buying a house seems impossible or that we are afraid that if we can barely manage to pay for our food and shelter how will we manage raising a family?
These are hard realities for many of America’s young adults and then we wonder why many are struggling with an opioid crisis, shooting up people in public places, or suffering from mental health issues. It is important to not only report on the problems but to proactively seeks ways to put lives back on course again. Don’t just vomit up these issues and walk away because, any failure or shortcomings of today’s youth is a symptom of something gone wrong elsewhere as well.