By Elisabeth Thomas | Reporter
As the generation that bridged the digital revolution and the advent of social media, many millennials — individuals born between 1981 and 1996 — have struggled to find their identity as a generation.
Everyone has an opinion about millennials, and oftentimes the term is used in a derogatory way toward all young people when in reality, millennials are all the young people in their 20s and 30s. The very youngest millennials are graduating college now.
According to Shelton Sears, a roaster at Common Grounds Woodway and born in 1993, when he sees someone address millennials in online forums or on social media, it’s funny to him when he doesn’t affiliate or can’t empathize with the group of “young people” being addressed. Instead, Sears said he experiences a different side to his generation, which is often mislabeled as passive or entitled.
“I’m a millennial — like that’s me,” Sears said. “I think most often, I see millennials portrayed as whiny or over-zealous. I think there’s truth to that the generation usually associated with millennials and the younger generation are passionate. I don’t know that necessarily everyone in that age range is fanatical about things, but I think because particularly the younger side of the millennial net of people has grown up with so much more access to the world, their voices get heard.”
Sears said that another misconception people propagate is that millennials are lazy and not hard-working.
“For me, that’s the one I most feel dissension against,” Sears said. “I started working when I was 15, and for 10 years of my life, I’ve worked manual labor jobs. I’ve been sweating my butt off working in the heat, outside, lifting stuff, crawling around in attics, laboring for what I earn.”
Sears said he doesn’t feel like this portrayal is a valid representation of himself or his fellow millennials. Rather than being a characteristic of an entire generation, Sears said the labels of laziness or entitlement are instead the result of individual upbringing and values, many of which are passed along from previous generations.
Destiny Gonzales, communications director at Antioch Community Church, born in 1994, shared similar opinions on the matter of millennial identity.
“A lot of times, people think we don’t have a great work ethic and we just want everything handed to us, and I don’t think that’s true,” Gonzales said. “I think there’s a very entrepreneurial spirit about our generation, but I think people also think we aren’t willing to do the normal nine-to-five jobs, and we totally are. We’re not all just like, ‘Oh, I sit at home in my pajamas running my own business.’ I think there’s a lot more to it than that.”
According to Gonzales, millennials have more initiative and drive than they’re given credit for.