A coddled, insecure generation: the painful truth of Millenials

The generation born in or around the years 1977-1995 is known as Millennials, or Generation Y, according to the Nielsen Holdings Company. This generation makes up a quarter of the nation’s population and is responsible for 21 percent of consumer discretionary purchases. Millennials consider themselves to be innovative; they are dedicated, smart, health conscious, and expressive. Especially in today’s world, this generation’s voice is important. Their actions speak louder than words, their marches and protests have moved mountains, and their dedication to the things that are important to them is inspiring. They have shown loyalty and passion for things in such a way that they have stuck out in an ever-changing world.

However, Millennials have a less-than-stellar reputation among other generations. Millennials are considered to be narcissistic, lazy, self-entitled, and overly protected. To Generation X and baby boomers, these kids are too sheltered, raised by “helicopter parents” who constantly protected them from adversity. Every child received a participation trophy, and every kid was a “winner.” In the workforce, workers from older generations have numerous complaints about the Millennials. Largely, they see Millennials as expecting four things out of a job when they first enter their starting position: high pay, flexible work schedules, a promotions before earning them, and more time off. 

Where did this attitude come from? For the Gen Xers, the truth stings: the perceived shortcomings of the Millennials is due to those who raised these kids.

When older generations complain about the complacency of Millennials and how they expect rewards before earning them, they have no one to blame but themselves. Gen X and baby boomer parents were the ones who raised the Millennials; they were the ones who shielded them from failure and adversity, taught them that effort is enough and feelings count. Yet when Gen Xers and baby boomers hire Millennials in the workforce, they expect to see different qualities in them than what they taught them as parents. When Millennials graduate college and enter the workforce, it’s almost as if they are thrown to the wolves; they are expected to produce results and no one cares about their well-being. The participation trophies do not exist, raises and promotions are expected to be earned after years of work and non-performers fall by the wayside. It is literally survival of the fittest for Millenials in the workplace.

Since birth, Millennials have been shaped by their elders. However, as much as they were coddled and safeguarded, these kids have done an incredible job molding their own minds. For example,  when I was around 6 years old, I played soccer for my town recreational league, and my team was particularly competitive. I can’t say we were the best, but we were driven. Our games felt just like the World Cup. Well, that is if the World Cup didn’t recognize winners or losers. At our age, we were not allowed to keep score. Our coaches would never keep a tally of who scored how many goals. With that being said, as bright young kids, we always kept score. We knew exactly who scored how many goals, and what the score was. If we won a game, we would celebrate, and our parents would as well. If we lost, we would recognize our loss and leave the field in tears, but our parents wouldn’t because “nobody was keeping score!”

Wrong. We were. We always were. As kids, we always kept the score to every game, and we always knew who the champions were, so we knew whether to be happy or disappointed. As much as our parents wanted to hide us from winning (or more importantly) losing, we knew better. We knew the importance of winning, and the frustration of losing.

So yes, there are qualities that Millennials have of which they are not necessarily proud. They expect too much before they even perform. They are insecure and scared to fail. They are considered narcissistic. But the funny irony of it all is that Millennials’ harshest critics are the ones who raised them. And to be honest, despite every negative quality they carry, this generation has more potential than any generation has ever seen; they have been able to break out of the barriers of fear, reluctance, and nonchalance to create an innovative, insightful, and brilliant generation, regardless of how they grew up.