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Those Kids These Days

Were you born between 1982 and 2004? If so, you are a millennial.

Having been born in 1989, I am undeniably a millennial.

I don’t mind being put in an age category; age is irrefutable and therefore nothing I can change. I’m 22 and perfectly OK with that. What I am not OK with is the negative stigma that comes with this group I was born into.

The truth is that trends exist, patterns play out and predictions can be made, but labeling an entire generation is a bit extreme. Most of you know the stereotypes that come with being a millennial, and I will get to it as soon as I finish my daily dosage of World of Warcraft, oh hold on, I just got a text. LOL! My BFF is so funny.

What was I saying again … oh, yes, people say millennials have short attention spans, that we don’t know the meaning of hard work, and we can’t handle criticism. The list goes on.

All jokes aside, defining and understanding millennials has become an industry. You can attend conferences on how to teach us, train us and deal with our video game withdrawals at work. Employers and educators sit tight with pen in hand, frivolously jotting down characteristics of these bizarre creatures, hoping they will learn the secret to managing these teeny-boppers who never grew up. Then, either they leave the seminar deciding not to hire anyone under 30, or they plan to over-analyze anyone who is.

This isn’t new stuff, folks. Criticizing the younger generation has been around for years. Eric Hoover digs into this debate in his article “The Millennial Muddle.”

For as long as human hair has turned gray, elders have looked at their successors and frowned. “Children nowadays are tyrants,” goes an old quotation widely attributed to Socrates. “They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” In 1855 a professor at Davidson College described college students as “indulged, petted, and uncontrolled at home … with an undisciplined mind, and an uncultivated heart, yet with exalted ideas of personal dignity, and a scowling contempt for lawful authority.” Albert Einstein opined that while classrooms are many, “the number of young people who genuinely thirst after truth and justice is small.”

Scholars have been trying to figure this stuff out for ages, and each seemed to fear the end of civilization in lieu of the rising youth.

I laugh as I sift through the abundance of material online defining me — partially because it is ridiculous, but at times because I know it is true.

I don’t deny I’m different than someone older than me; how could I not be? We grew up in different worlds. They didn’t have internet or even a fraction of the technology that exists today. Back then, the thought of communicating instantaneously via handheld device probably seemed impossible, and Twitter was still the sound of a bird. Civilization has changed, and its inhabitants have followed suit.

Fact of the matter comes down to two things:

Anyone older than a millennial: Don’t put us in a box. Kids will be kids, but kids also grow up. Let us be adults and challenge us the same way you were challenged. Get to know us personally instead of reading a book about our generation.

Millennials: Let’s prove them wrong. Work hard and embrace the changing world we live in. Be aware of the stereotypes and know your strengths and weaknesses. Be teachable, respectful and driven.

As a millennial have you faced challenges in the classroom or workplace because of the type of person you were expected to be? How did you overcome these stereotypes?

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