The millennial mindset: an argument for Generation X


When I decided to write an op-ed for the Empire State Tribune, I thought it would be simple to find a topic I cared enough about to write eight hundred words, write the eight hundred words, and submit the word document to the editor by the required deadline. Not days, but doable. Well, I got stuck on step one. What do I actually care enough about to write eight hundred words on? The answer turned out to be ‘not much.’ Am I just a remarkably apathetic and lazy person? Probably. But in an attempt to make myself feel better about my lack of care, I turned to the internet to find out if this was a common phenomenon. My quest was founded on the stereotype that the Millennial generation as a whole tends towards moderation bordering on apathy. It turns out that, politically and socially, the stereotype is accurate. However, the crushing laziness is just me.

As I’ve already stated, the Millennial generation tends towards political and social moderation. They are very much the generation of "You have your opinions, I have mine, and we just won’t talk or fight about it." This generation loves diversity, something that can be linked to the fact that they are the most diverse generation religiously, politically and culturally according to the Pew Research Center.

The Millennial generation also possesses the overwhelming need to feel valued and significant. They do not, however, seek this out through individual achievement. They want to do important work as part of a group, going as far as to sacrifice their individuality in the work place in order to better mesh with their peer group. There are several reasons why this mindset is possible. T. Scott Gross, in his Forbes article, points to the "teamwork" mindset that we find dominating children’s activities and schooling. Individuality, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center, is instead expressed through a Millennial’s sense of style. They are the generation most likely to have tattoos, piercings or dye their hair a funky color. They are most likely to have accounts on social media websites and the most likely to post pictures and videos of themselves online. However, hand in hand with their need to achieve in the work place and be accepted by their peers, 70 percent say that their tattoos are in places hidden by clothing.

An article handed out to the students of Rice University marks Millennials as both "achieving" and "pressured." It claims that this generation has been pressured from a very young age to excel, and links this to the decreased crime rates, increased GPA’s and college graduation rates, and (shockingly) a lost ability to have spontaneous fun. In his article for Forbes, Neil Howe furthers that claim by showing that Millennials are more averse to risk than previous generations. Unplanned pregnancy, abortions, underage smoking and drinking and violent crimes are all at historic lows with this generation.

Millennials are also incredibly conventional. They respect authority figures and older generations. They even have great relationships with their parents (roughly one eighth have returned to at home after finishing their degree). Despite the fact that the recession has dominated nearly every point of the Millennial's professional lives, they maintain the optimistic belief that everything will turn out for the best and hope to find jobs with large corporations.

I did a lot of work trying to get out of doing work, which I was trying to blame on being a Millennial. It turns out that I’m just remarkably lazy and collectively Millennials are hard workers. They are dedicated, they are motivated and they really just want what every generation before has wanted—to succeed.