Don't call me a millennial...
Call me a millennial a couple of years back and that's the response you would have got- "I'm not a Millennial". Actually Rosie.... yes you are...
Millennial is a term used to describe Generation Y (1981-1996). This generation is called millennials as the oldest became adults on the turn of the millennium.
We grew up familiar with technology such as mobiles, internet, social media. Maybe this is part of why I sometimes resist it? Facebook didn't exist when I was at school, which I am extremely thankful for, I'm not too sure how I would have managed the potential social pressures/ bullying.
Why was I resisting this term for such a long time? Perhaps like everyone else, I was seeing it as a set of characteristics rather than the year I was born. Millennials have had, and still do, a bad reputation in the media. One quick google search (typical millennial thing to do!) produced several articles about how awful millennials are. I found an article in Time Magazine called "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation" (Time, 2013). The article started with a very negative view of Millennials, then had a bit of a positive spin at the end. For me, that positive spin was too late, I was already burnt...
Some of the terms used to decribe millennials in this article were "narcissistic, entitled, cocky about their place in the world"......
This quote was my favourite:
"Not only do millennials lack the kind of empathy that allows them to feel concerned for others, but they also have trouble even intellectually understanding others points of view."
As a millennial counsellor I reject every aspect of that sentence. I wondered am I just rejecting that because of the profession I've chosen to follow? I didn't think so but I decided to get another persons perspective and read that sentence to my friend... He said:
"I would argue that we have more empathy for others than previous generations. Look at the increase in protests... If anything its the opposite of that quote"
I completely agree with him, this generation is showing empathy for others, this is the generation of wanting to talk about mental health issues, making it OK and non judgmental. The generation of speaking up... The generation of accepting difference, diversity and identity.
I google search found too many articles to quote in this short blog (may have to revisit this in the future). Here's some of the words that came up when I searched:
It's words like these that have led me to resist this term for so long...
My friend went on to say:
"Our entire working careers have basically been through s**t if you think about it, we started working 2008 when the credit crunch hit, got through that, then look at this s**t this year..."
I'm not arguing that previous generations have not had their own struggles and hardships, every generation has had something. I wonder why millennials don't seem to get credited in the media for the battles they have had to face? As my friend said, we both came out of university at the time of the credit crunch. Trying to find a job just to pay bills let alone a career in those times was tough.
What about the cost of gaining higher education? The cost of university degrees have gone up for this generation and now the next generation face incredibly high costs. The teaching and higher education bill was passed into law on 16 July 1998 which introduced tuition fees on a means tested basis. The cost of tuition fees since this bill was passed has increased from £1,000 a year to £9,000 (ish) a year currently... I wonder how much this prevents certain people being able to access higher education? What about those who are able to? They start their career in an incredible amount of debt.
To then top that off, house prices have increased. One article I found (thismoney.co.uk) had many interesting statistics including the average cost of a mortgage for first time buyers in comparison to their salary. First time buyers used to pay on average 2-3 times their income until 1999. In the 4 years after 2000, the average price paid rose to 4.6 times annual income. If we are saying that millennials were born from 1981, the oldest millennial was 19 in 2000, the increase in house price on first time buyers is a massive hit to millennials.
So what are some of the positives about this generation?
For me, this generation wants to do things differently. We are more conscious of impact; our impact on the environment, our impact on our bodies (healthy eating etc.), our impact on society (accepting difference) and our impact on our minds (promoting mental health).
When I first set up my private practice I noticed that I seemed to attract a lot of millennial clients and I wondered why? I don't know for sure but I imagine that some of this judgment in the media plays a part. A counsellor provides a non judgmental space but I wonder how many millennials fear judgement or misunderstanding from older generations and so they are drawn to me?
Personally, I love working with millennials! I find there is this hunger to want to understand themselves better, to want to invest in themselves. Its not narcissistic, its valuing yourself.
So how do I feel about the term millennial now? I'm embracing it! I still struggle when its used in a negative way but I'm practicing taking a deep breath and then trying to understand why that person is using the term negatively.