I recently received an article consisting of a list pinpointing how my generation is different than previous generations. The article was written by Jeff Janssen and within the article he referenced a book called Millennials Go to College by Neil Howe and William Strauss. The generation I am part of is commonly referred to as “the Millennials” and includes those born anywhere from 1980 to the present. The makers of the list came up with seven primary ways in which the millennial generation is significantly different. Those seven aspects were: special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured and achieving. The most pertinent items on the list to me were special, sheltered, pressured and conventional.
“As a group, Millennials have been taught that they are special and vital to the success of their family, team, and community. They have received an unprecedented amount of focus and attention from their parents and other adults so they naturally feel that they are entitled to the best.”
Kind of harsh and really makes me feel as if our generation is mainly a bunch of pretentious kids, but for the most part … I see where it’s coming from. From as early as I can remember, I have been taught in school, by those older and wiser, and the media that I am capable of anything if I just put my mind to it. With encouraging messages decorating the walls of classrooms, waiting rooms, etc., it’s hard not to feel as if we are actually for one reason or another very special. Though the message that we are special is a nice thought, I think somewhere along the way Millennials got a message that was supposed to be a form of encouragement, muddled with the notion that we are entitled to certain things.
“Most Millennials have been protected and sheltered from birth… Because of this sheltering, many are crushed when they receive less than an ‘A’ for a grade, get cut from teams, and receive negative feedback. It’s as if they don’t know how to handle it.”
Also a very valid point. Many of my peers, fellow students, teammates and coworkers throughout my life (including myself) have a difficulty in accepting criticism. It’s not that we don’t necessarily know how to handle it, although this is one aspect of it -- it’s that we don’t want to accept it. We desire greatness and perfection and anything less than that is a hard pill to swallow. I think this goes right along with number six on the list which is pressured.
“Millennials are feeling much more pressure to succeed than generations before them.”
We want to succeed and are scared of the consequences if we don’t. In school, receiving anything less than an A on something we worked hard on feels like failure. Getting cut from a team felt like the end of the world because we worked hard and were taught that if we work hard enough we can achieve. It’s tough to balance the two ideas. We’re told that we can achieve anything through hard work but then we work hard and still aren’t good enough. It’s confusing.
“Rather than the usual rebellious teen years, Millennials tend to embrace the more traditional values of their parents.”
This is probably one of the only things on the list that I very strongly disagreed with. I think that the Millennial generation is so different from previous ones because most of us don’t necessarily agree with the views of our parents and grandparents and those from older generations. The older I get, the more often I find myself disagreeing with my parents and grandparents regarding issues ranging from politics to movies. Although the Millennial generation might be afraid of a variety of things, I have noticed that they are not afraid of standing up for who or what they believe in even if it might contradict beliefs we were raised with.
While I did agree with a lot of items on the list, it was also frustrating for me to read. I think that a lot of times, a desire for greatness and success is a good thing. While we might have a hard time accepting marks that were below the level we believe we deserve, it’s not because we necessarily think that we deserve things to be handed to us; it’s because we worked hard and then failed. Though a B on a test isn’t a bad grade by any means, when you have worked extremely hard to achieve an A, it feels a little like a bad grade. We’re a generation that is afraid of failure and what comes when you don’t succeed or get to where you want to be. But we’re also a generation that isn’t afraid of what our families and friends will think when we disagree with them. While we might fear failure, we also still have the courage to try and achieve our wildest dreams.