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Coming Out as a Millennial

By Jen Lau | Small Business

I’m about to disclose something that most women hide from everyone – my age. I was born on Jan. 15, 1982, making me a millennial. I’ve come to really dislike this word. Just as we’ve stereotyped Baby Boomers for decades, professionals and the media have now taken aim at the millennial generation.

Coming Out as a Millennial image generationshotComing Out as a Millennial

A generational shot from my wedding day. A millennial (me), a boomer (my mom) and a boomer’s mama (my grandma).

While some say millennials are those born in the early 80s through the early 2000s, others define a millennial as someone born between 1982 and 2000. Two of my closest friends were born just a month before me, in Dec. of ’81. I blame my parents for the ill-timing of my birth (oh – how very millennial of me!) While my friends can claim a spot in Generation X, I am just 15 days shy of a generation that seems to fly under the radar. Instead I’m inundated with headlines like:  “Who cares about a career? Not Gen Y,” “Millennials Still at Home” and my personal favorite “Study Shows Millennials More Forgetful than Seniors.” Fellow millennials have also endured such colorful adjectives as narcissistic, disobedient and cocky. Let me tell you , I have met PLENTY of narcissistic baby boomers and cocky Gen Xers. And disobedient? Are we talking about toddlers?

I’m shocked by the stereotypes and fascination we put on each generation, and I’m applauding some new studies that look at common themes at a certain age, rather than themes within a generation. A team of psychologists  generational differences in work values by evaluating high school seniors in the United States in 1976, 1991 and 2006, effectively capturing three separate generations at a common age. What they found was that a student’s generation was largely irrelevant, and the similarities of their work values were remarkable.

Finding themes – a nice way of referring to stereotypes – based on age instead of generation makes sense. While researching for this blog I found seven recent articles about millennials still living at home with their parents. Each one mentions that these 20-something moochers are fresh out of college, in debt and unable to find a job in their chosen field because of the economic crisis and downsizing of companies. How is this an issue unique to millennials? Did Gen X and Boomers come out of the financial collapse and subsequent crisis unscathed? Not in my world they didn’t. And would we not expect to find the same thing happening to a similar age group during the Great Depression, those we now refer to as “The Greatest Generation?” Why are we so quick to label a group of people as lazy and narcissistic when we’re able to point to the extenuating circumstances they face?

My point – be kind to millennials and Gen Xers and Baby Boomers andpeople older than Baby Boomers for whom I have no label. Ignore stereotyping. And when a millennial you know decides to move out of his parent’s basement, offer him the old toaster oven that’s sitting in your garage.

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