Many people, (mostly those over 45) have this notion regarding 20-something-year-olds. They have this impression about the young adults of this decade that they are reckless, impulsive, lazy, arrogant, too attached to our technology, and just plain out stupid. The phrase, “your generation” is often used in a condescending manner; a way of sneering at the many “problems” of our selfish generation. In fact, our generation are quite often the subject of social despair over the loss of traditional values. We are criticized, categorized and ridiculed, but in reality, these harsh stereotypes although they may have some truth to them, do not hinder us young adults whatsoever. In fact, they aid in our success. The very same characteristics that many see as weaknesses are in fact, strengths that are beneficial and valuable to organizations.
1. “We Are Lazy”
Most elders have this notion that us young adults sit around our computers, creep each other’s social media, and play video games all day, and although I won’t deny that there are some who do, majority of us are actually spending the better part of our 20s in crappy jobs or unpaid internships only to reach our dream jobs and future goals. What’s so lazy about that? Most of us are waiting tables, folding clothes at retail stores, and stocking shelves at supermarkets only because we are emerging into our adulthood lives- in desperate need of fast money because not only are we working, but going to school as well! So as we struggle to make ends meet while slowly paying off our enormous student debt, it is extremely false and unfair to claim us young adults as lazy and unmotivated, when in reality we are actually really hard-workers, wanting to quit, yet never giving up.
2. “We Are Selfish & Conceited”
Another common misconception about today’s 20-something’s is that we are obsessed with ourselves- I mean we ARE found taking ‘selfies’ and posting every little detail of our lives to the world, making us look extremely egocentric and that we think the world revolves around us and that we are special and “can do whatever we want to do”. But that’s the exact mindset that will make us succeed. It’s a man-eat-man world and if we are not highly confident of our abilities and of ourselves, then no one else will be. Self-confidence is the best armour a young adult can have when entering the harsh reality of the adult world. Most of us who had our dream bubbles burst by reality know the feeling that without a high self-esteem, getting back up and moving forward is next to impossible. So know that you are the best and be the best. After all, employers will hire us because we will be the best person for the job, so prove it!
3. “We Are Impulsive”
We like to live in the moment. And no, this isn’t because of Drake’s term, “YOLO”, but because we truly feel that our time is passing quick and want to be able to live our lives to the fullest without regretting not doing anything later on. Although being impulsive can and does lead to irrational decisions such as one-night stands, drinking and driving, and many other issues associated with our generation, to be impulsive can actually be a good thing. In fact, it can be a great thing! It means that we have the willpower to act, without any regrets or fears. Being impulsive allows us to save a lot of time that could have been wasted if we dwelled on the decisions for too long. It allows jumping on opportunities before they are gone; seizing the day, and taking action, whereas if you had never dived into something headfirst, you would have probably had a harder time doing it or never ending up doing it at all.
4. “We Have Short Attention Spans”
We are highly criticized for never being able to focus on one set task for a short period of time. In other words, we are the age of the rise of ADD; we are working on our papers and have Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr running in the back. Many old folks are seriously concerned that we are growing in such a fast paced technological society, but in reality, multi-tasking is actually a talent and in this highly digitalized world. To be simultaneously attending to multiple sources of information such as listening to music, writing an essay, and chatting online, and be able to mentally switch between tasks effortlessly, is really a desirable skill.
5. “We Want To Be Forever Young”
Well doesn’t everyone? “Adulthood” means more responsibilities, marriage, parenting, and the end to anything “fun”. It means kissing freedom goodbye and any other hopes and dreams we may have had. But although some people call this need to never grow up and be independent as shameful, it’s actually quite smart. Us young adults want to make use of our freedom by travelling, living abroad for a while, or pursuing that long-shot dream profession of being a singer or musician or even a travel writer. It’s not that we NEVER want to become adults, we just know that once we commit to someone and once we get tied down, we will be left with that “what if?” feeling; that curiosity that if we had just lived a bit more, perhaps our lives would have taken different routes. Our twenties is the age to explore, to test out different careers, to gain wisdom and culture by travelling the world, to meet new people, and to certainly not be held back by the responsibilities of adulthood.
6. “We Are Careless”
So what if we have gotten in a couple of car accidents? Or forgotten to pay this month’s rent? Or gotten a bit sloppy at the bar last night? We are emerging into adults and have a billion things on our minds. As we struggle with balancing work and school with our social lives, it is okay to be a bit reckless. But with being careless also comes the knowledge of our priorities. We all know where we want to end up and although we have a couple of mishaps along the way, they are all life lessons that make us who we are becoming.
7. “We are Full Of Tattoos & Piercings”
There has always been a stigma for people with tattoos. “Why do you do that yourself” is often the popular sentence addressed to our millennials with tattoos inked across their bodies. But what these older generations don’t realize is that tattoos are an art form and there is nothing more beautiful than a well-inked tattoo with a great story or message behind it. We have become unashamed to visually showcase what we stand for and permanently display it on our bodies. It is a form of self-expression and self-branding that openly expresses our values to the world.
8. “We Are Anti-Social & Addicted To Our Smart Phones”
Yes, perhaps the old days of meeting people face-to-face and having on-on-one conversations are long gone and we are criticized for lacking social skills and constantly being glued to our phones and computers. We are plugged in 24/7, communicating though email and text messages rather than in person, making us what our elders believe to be “anti-social”. But in fact, we more social than any other generation, constantly connected to everyone and anyone around the world. We have everything at our fingertips, constantly staying informed and enabling our social lives.
So next time your previous generations criticize your generation for being young and reckless and whatever else they may blast at you, remember that these very same flaws are actually our strengths.
As seen published on Thought Catalog on Apr. 16, 2015.