It’s a typical day: you’re in the bathroom browsing Facebook on your phone when you come across a post that goes something like “[insert odd number] Things EVERY Millennial [insert sweeping statement that all millennials can relate to].” By the end of the article, you’ve learned that basically every single millennial works two jobs (one is definitely with a trendy, new startup), lives in a small apartment with 2 roommates or their parents’ basement, has mountains of college debt which they used to help fund all those selfies of their study-abroad semester in Spain, has a hashtag for everything, and struggles to find relationships in a shallow, narcissistic world full of people that just want to “hook-up”. You think to yourself “WOW, life sure does blow pretty hard for us millennials”… But oh wait, none of this actually applies to you except for the fact you were born in the 80’s or early 90’s.
“I’m looking at you medical technologist guy who went to an in-state school, took on little debt, got a good job right out of school, and quickly saved up to buy a house. Let’s hear your story, let’s read your list of 37 things we need to know about.”
Stereotypes can sometimes appear to have their merits – I’m sure there are plenty of millennials that fall into the description above. If this does describe you, you should be happy knowing there is a wealth of material dedicated solely to talking about you and how you can improve your life, written by someone a year older than you so you know it’s legit. My question is, where do you turn for advice if none of these descriptors apply to you? What if you found a good career early on (maybe you skipped college and became a plumber making 3x more than your college grad friends) or started your own successful business? What if you already moved past apartment living and bought a home? What if you’ve started a sizable retirement account? What if you didn’t have to date a string of sociopaths before you found Mr./Ms. Right?
While yes, there is good advice out there for millennials asking these questions, it’s not broadcasted anywhere near the frequency that advice for the “stereotypical” millennial is. Why is this? Is it because millennials in this situation are so rare it’s not worth writing about? Do they have better things to do with their time? Or could it be that they are not the ones writing about this stuff?
I have a working theory that part of what is contributing to the millennial stereotype are the people writing about it. Consider where much of the content being generated about millennials comes from: big media outlets that cater to millennials such as HuffPost, Vice, BuzzFeed, Gawker, etc. These outlets are typically based in big cities like San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and are staffed by numerous millennial writers coming out of top tier colleges. Would it be safe to assume there might perhaps be a little bit of bias among these writers? I mean, if you’re a writer living in the exorbitantly high priced city of San Francisco, there’s a good chance you’re paying a ton in rent for a tiny apartment, possibly working two jobs, and went to a very expensive school that forced you to accumulate a significant amount of debt. You might also encounter more people that are self-absorbed and enamored with the latest tech. If this were me, I would probably be a little jaded.
So where am I going with this, that is sucks to be a writer in San Francisco? Not quite. My hope is that if you’re one of those who can proudly say you don’t fall into the millennial stereotype, be loud, proud, and start sharing some content with the world. I’m looking at you medical technologist guy who went to an in-state school, took on little debt, got a good job right out of school, and quickly saved up to buy a house. Let’s hear your story, let’s read your list of 37 things we need to know about. Most importantly, let’s break down stereotypes about millennials, because no two of us are exactly the same.