Surviving Millennial

From the time we hit puberty, millennials have been the topic of every adult conversation. If our parents weren’t griping about our defiance, then our teachers were complaining about our free-thinking and short attention span. Seriously, from about age 8 (I hit puberty super early 🙄), I’ve been the talk of many discussions. No one could ever figure out what to do with me. I talked too much. I had too many opinions. I asked too many questions. I wanted so much out of life. I expected everyone to be a visionary. I thought to fight for what you believe in was what a person was supposed to do. Oh, but now. We are the biz-ni-yee.

Everybody wants a millennial on their team, whether that be socially, professionally or spiritually. Everybody wants us. We’re a hot commodity. We’re grade A, 100% pure nineteen eighties/nineties dopeness. Here’s the thing though, everybody wants us, but not nay one of them quite knows what to do with us nor how to work for us. All they know is this person, that company, the church over yonder, the organization cross that way has a millennial on staff and I want one too.

Everyone thinks millennials have the answers. They think we can figure out how to get life on Mars or how to fix a 30-year catastrophe in 3 months. Guess they think we’re all Obamas. But, are you ready for the biggest catch of all this? They don’t let you do what it takes to get it done. Seriously, you ever have someone admire something you did and then they don’t actually let you do your thing. Like imagine you tie your shoe, and they say, “hey, can you tie mine while you down there, you did that really fast?” You do it and they’re like, “well, I’m not falling or anything like that, but I’d rather you had done it by tying it across, making one loop then pulling it through instead of making two bunny ears and tying them together.” Crazy, right?

One of my favorite Malcolm X’s quotes is, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” Homegirl, I got a double whammy hanging on me, I’m a black woman and a millennial. So not only am I disrespected, unprotected and neglected by society; I’m also usually underpaid, undervalued, overcriticized, and marginalized, by older black generations as a millennial. I know, you’re probably like me, sitting up in your room, back there thinking about it. Existing in a world where you’re the “go-to” and the blame is exhausting. Then you’re wrong, disloyal, unreliable and unstable when you don’t stick around and subject yourself to this insanity.

It’s been said, and y’all I literally can’t make this up. Like I heard this with my own ears, I sat across from a woman I know very well and watched her lips move as she spits this crazy logic. “Nobody wants to work with a millennial because they aren’t stable. They never stay at one job for over five years. They are always looking for a bigger check.” Uhh, hello, ma’am earth to Mars, your stability is why I can’t stay in corporate America or any other entity forever. Your social security benefits were killing my checks, plus your outdated strategies took way too much of my valuable time. With these seemingly shorted years ain’t nobody got time for that. I don’t have hours to sit in on face-to-face meetings when I can hold that same meeting in an Uber on the way to another client, city, or country. Furthermore, let’s discuss stability, for a second. Now Webster defines sable as: sane and sensible; not easily upset or disturbed. Some synonyms are well-balanced, rational, and steady. Another definition is not likely to give way or overturn; firmly fixed.

So, this whole, “millennials lack stability” is hogwash. I think we’re probably the most stable, rational, well-balanced generation on the planet. Not to mention the most compassionate, loving, generous and philanthropic. I can’t tell you how many times I’m criticized by the directors at the rec center where I volunteer. They think I am the craziest person in the world because I don’t wait for the city to fund any event I want to host for the children. I hold fundraisers. I rally support from the community and when that fails, I come out of my pocket and make it happen. See, what many don’t realize is that millennials are fueled by passion. If we are passionate about it, we do whatever is in our power to make it happen, and if our power can’t do it along, we’re finding some power that can.

They also confuse stability and stagnation. Stagnation. The state of not flowing or moving, lack of activity, growth or development. They associate constantly moving, growing, and ELEVATING with instability but staying stuck in a rut, coming home overworked, underpaid and lonely with stability. Well, you know what they call people who do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. Here’s a hint, rhymes with cane and starts with the opposite of out.

Millennials are the driving force of this we economy. We breathe life on dying companies. We overflow empty churches. We bring the crowd to the fund. We are the ones putting some sauce, swag; drip, on a mundane, uniform and stagnant world. We are the cream of the crop, all them older generations are just the stick ish at the bottom of the barrel (lol). Sike, just joshing, but we are a grand name and grand names mean something. Millennials, we are a grand name. I stand behind it. I guarantee it, just like Uncle Denzel. They know that even if they never understand anything we do, say or wear. When they get them increased numbers, they’ve been waiting for whether in event attendance, brand visibility, product sales or speaking engagements, they know they can say, “my millennial did that!” So, how do we survive millennial? Here's what I suggest:

Keep doing ya thang!

Your job is not to please people. If they wanted a people pleaser, they should have bought a puppy. Your job is to do what you do best to get them the results they want. You are a game changer, ceiling breaker, and world cultivator. No one can be you, do you, or respect you more than you can, so don’t expect them to and don’t live like that’s your goal.

Express yourself!

Be you in all your glory. You were beautifully and wonderfully made. Crafted with only you in mind. Don’t subject yourself to the objectivity of anyone. Everyone loves to say, “you weren’t born to fit in, you were made to stand out,” but are always blending right in with everyone else. I tell my projectEYECON babies all the time, not only are you supposed to stand out, but you were also born to rise above. You should never remain in an environment that forces you to suppress your self-expression.

Never accept less than you’re worth.

One of my favorite Swoope songs, says, “know your worth, then add tax.” That tax is for the life experiences, trails and errors and losses and lessons that got you to where you are today. Stop accepting less for the sake of not appearing greedy, conceited or great than thou. Asking for what you know they’d pay someone who was older, just because they were older. Experience and intelligent have nothing to do with how many years you walked this green earth. Some people start their careers later in life, others sooner. So, demanding you are accommodated for your worth or beyond is not believing you are better than anyone, but it’s clear to see you usually are greater than them at this or they wouldn’t be enlisting your help.

Bump your brakes.

I had to learn that while I have tons of experience, I’m hired for one job. For a long time, I would wear myself thin helping everybody else out with their job duties and then realized, you get paid for this. I had to take a step back and say, while I can definitely navigate in both lanes, that’s suicide. Burnout and break down would forever follow me as long as I stayed in overdrive. So, I pumped my brakes and only did what was required. I realized long ago that wasn’t selfish, it’s called self-preservation.

Written By: Neikita Jackson