The Millennial problem

Lazy. Entitled. Self-centered. This is all I hear when anyone talks about my generation, the Millennials, and I’m tired of hearing complaints about how we are failing in life. I don’t see these negative characteristics in my generation at all. Millennials, born between 1981 and 1999, are picked on by Baby Boomers and members of Generation X, and I’m sick of being labeled a narcissistic bum simply because of the year I was born.

Stereotype one: Millennials are lazy.

I hear over and over from Baby Boomers and Generation Xers how lazy Millennials are because we don’t get jobs quickly, we don’t move out of our parents’ basements until we are in our 30s, and we use technology instead of putting in hard work. However, studies actually show that Millennials are working harder than previous generations. High schoolers in 2009 took more credits and a higher percentage of difficult classes than students two decades before.

Many Millennials have trouble gaining employment not because of laziness, but because many of us graduated in the middle of the Great Recession (which is not our fault, by the way) that left very few job opportunities for younger workers because many more-experienced Baby Boomers had to re-enter the workforce or hold their jobs past retirement expectations.

Millennials have trouble moving out of their parents’ homes due to lack of affordable housing and increasing rent prices. Wages have stayed the same the past few decades while the cost of a bachelor’s degree, which is necessary for many jobs, has skyrocketed. This is one reason why Bernie Sanders became so popular among Millennials: He wanted to make education and health care free and accessible.

Yes, Millennials use a lot of technology, but having a world of easily accessible information means we’re going to take the quickest and easiest route. This doesn’t mean we’re lazy, it highlights the fact that we’re efficient. After all, as the saying goes: work smarter, not harder.

Stereotype two: Millennials are entitled.

Studies show that Millennials are entitled for various reasons, such as fixed salaries that actually reward bad work behavior or our obsession with social media, likes, and retweets. However, I don’t believe this entitlement is all bad.

Millennials use “entitlement” as an idea that we deserve equality to enact change and receive what we rightfully deserve. Millennials have advocated for social changes such as marriage equality, and our generation has participated heavily in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Millennials are entitled, but this entitlement shouldn’t be viewed as a negative.

Stereotype three: Millennials are self-centered.

Millennials are the first generation to come of age with the internet. In a world of Twitter and Instagram, this generation is used to getting likes and praise for whatever they do, even if it’s simply ordering a cup of coffee. However, for a generation deemed self-centered and narcissistic, Millennials have done a lot in terms of social justice, health, and positive change. We smoke and drink less than our parents. We are more accepting than any other generation of LGBTQIA rights. We are more sex-positive. We are smarter and safer regarding sex than previous generations, and we are overall more open-minded.

A recent study found that Millennials, though deemed narcissistic, actually believe the negative stereotypes assigned to their generation. Fifty-nine percent of Millennials participating in the study described their own generation as “self-absorbed,” 49 percent used the term “wasteful” and 43 percent said they were “greedy.” The study also said Millennials “stand out in their willingness to ascribe negative stereotypes to their own generation.” That sure doesn’t sound self-centered and narcissistic to me.

I say it’s time to stop being so hard on Millennials: We don’t have it as easy as older generations think. We aren’t the lazy, entitled, and self-centered young adults that everyone makes us out to be. Millennials can be self-absorbed on social media while also thinking about other people. We may enjoy technology, but we also work hard for what we want: Our generation is willing to fight for equal rights because we know we deserve them.

Millennials are definitely unique, but we’re just as good as the rest of you.