Millennial Problems: Habits to Lose and Strengths to Embrace in the Coming Year

Before you get upset at me for calling it how I see it, keep in mind that I am a millennial myself. Many of the problems I’m addressing are issues I struggle with personally. Since I am a millennial and most of the people I spend time with are as well, I have seen the best and the worst that we have to offer. While Baby Boomers and Gen Xers may have a lot of negative things to say about us, we also have a wealth of strengths. Let me preface this list with a disclaimer that I am WELL aware that each millennial is different and that not everyone falls into these categories. The list is driven by both the positive and negative trends I’ve noticed among millennials.

Habits to Lose:

Someone is considered to be flaky if they do not follow through on commitments. A flake is generally unreliable, mainly because they will “flake” or back out on well-established plans. Flakiness is a growing problem among millennials. We tend to be more flaky than the generations before us partly because of laziness and partly because of the other options that the technology age has afforded us. Now that we're able to see all the events happening simultaneously on social media and since we can text someone to change plans at a moment’s notice, we take advantage of that convenience. Instead of being flaky we need to embrace consistency and loyalty. If you say you will do something, do it. If you make plans with someone, honor those plans, instead of backing out at the last minute. Be there to support your true friends and be a person of your word.

It is common for millennials to be focused on ourselves, first and foremost. It’s honestly difficult to place blame because of all the cultural messages in society that perpetuate the idea that we should put ourselves first. There are numerous movies, blogs, books, and more that talk about how you ‘should’ be selfish when you’re young. Those mediums may have had the best of intentions when pushing the idea of selfishness but good intentions don't always lead to optimal outcomes. The “selfishness” trend seems to have been sparked by the plea for self-care, to make yourself a priority, and to focus on personal development early in life. Those ideas are not inherently problematic but if taken out of context, millennials are left with the message that it’s okay to be selfish. Millennials are still relatively young, which makes it a great time to develop yourself. By all means, put time in figuring out your passions and your purpose, set yourself up to be the well the adjusted adult you are hoping to be however, you do not need to be selfish in order to accomplish that goal. Selfishness is toxic and can lead to arrogance, pride, and isolation. It is okay to make yourself a priority, but it is not healthy for you to place yourself first all the time, rather seek to find a balance. You can prioritize your friends, family, and/ or community, while also focusing on personal development.

Along the same lines of selfishness, entitlement is an easy trap for millennials. I don’t know who told us that we deserve anything but we sure act like we deserve it all even when we refuse to put in any effort. This is one characteristic that older generations complain about the most and it is obvious why. Entitlement is obnoxious! Entitled people expect for everyone to cater to their wants and needs because they think they deserve something without having earned it. If you think you deserve anything that you haven’t worked for, the real world will be a rude awakening for you. Instead of relying on entitlement, work on embracing humility and valuing hard work. Humble people work to serve others, they are not prideful and they think of others before themselves. Learn to see the value in hard work. Hard work develops perseverance, patience, and other skills that take time and effort to acquire. Take a perspective of humility, work hard at something you care about and see the good it can do for you and those around you.

Fake Online Personas
Millennials are defining social media right now. It has come to the point where almost everyone has an online presence. The problem is that the persona presented on social media typically only covers the highlights. You may want to seem like you’re always “living your best life” but it’s not authentic. We spend a lot of time "stuntin for the gram" but are we actually living? So much time is spent online that some people forego real interaction altogether. Also, people are comparing their real lives to fake personas online. Insecurity about your own life sets in because you are focused on someone else’s highlight reel. Instead of doing everything for social media, learn how to socialize with people in real life. Instead of posting only the best moments of life, we need to promote authenticity more often. Don’t get caught up in other people’s social media personas, instead worry about being the best you, in real life, not just in pictures or 10-second snapshots.

Lack of Morals/ Standards

Yes, some millennials have morals and high standards but in general, morality is severely lacking among this generation. We have become extremely lax with our standards and it is problematic. Women are settling for being “side-chicks”, people are fine with lying and cutting corners to get their way, and we are glorifying people who exploit themselves for a living. With each year that passes, we are accepting more and more foolishness and we are calling it the norm. We need think more highly of ourselves, not in terms of conceit but in terms of value. Set high standards for yourself because you care about your life and you know that God made you inherently worthy. Don’t allow yourself to be treated just any way. Establish your values and priorities and stick to them. It is important that millennials don’t fall into the trap of being so accepting of a generation that we downgrade our inherent value. 

Lack of Perseverance
Millennials can be so impatient at times! We may start a journey with ample vigor and fervor and then not even halfway down the path, we start giving up. It is problematic to have a potential generation of quitters. What will we do in the future if all of our leaders just give up on projects they have been working on to help improve our country? What if everyone decided it was too much work to become doctors? What would our world become? Instead of giving up the first time something gets difficult, decide that you will finish what you have started. Millennials need to embrace longsuffering. I’m sure longsuffering is not word used very often anymore but it is a virtue that millennials will benefit from embracing. Longsuffering requires patience and perseverance to work through difficult times. Millennials need to be willing to work hard and overcome struggles on the journey toward their goals, rather than running away from them the second it becomes inconvenient. Overcoming trials will build character, while quitting will get you nowhere, fast.

Strengths to Embrace:

Entrepreneurial Spirit
It seems like most millennials I know, ultimately want to be their own boss, including myself! We need to recognize what a strength entrepreneurship can be, especially within the Black community. We need more Black business owners who will invest in their communities. You may encounter obstacles that could discourage you from starting your own business, like lack of funds, insecurity, or the lack of support from others. Despite the obstacles, if know that you have a service or product that you believe in, then just go for it. Sometimes God gives you a vision and no one else can see it or understand it but they don’t need to, only you do! So, move forward boldly, do your research, learn how to effectively accomplish your goal and then stick with it. So many people start but never follow through, but you have the vision for a reason so stick with it. Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are or will be the only person out there doing what you’re doing. Don’t be afraid to collaborate with others in order to reach your goal. Collaboration actually produces more potential for growth. Millennials can work to fully embrace the strength of the entrepreneurial spirit by actively pursuing the goal, sticking with it, and being open collaboration.  

Tech/ Social Networking Savvy
Millennials are at the forefront of technology and social media. We came up in a time where we were learning and developing right along with the surge of technology. The time that we were raised gives us a unique advantage compared to older generations. The way we can embrace the tech-savvy strength is by using technology platforms in smart and revolutionary ways. It’s already happening with movements like Black Lives Matter and the Me Too Movement. We can make a huge impact through the internet because of its global level of connectivity. We can use it for entertainment and social reasons but let’s also use our strengths to help make positive changes in our communities and around the world. 

Big Dreams and Aspirations
Millennials are the best at dreaming big! Unlike the more practical generations before us, we reach for the stars. Some may characterize big dreamers as naïve, but I see it as a strength. Millennials are much less likely to resign themselves to a single occupation. We think outside of the box and we are bold enough to believe we will make it to the top. We need to continue to foster that moxie because if you ever want to make it to the top, you first have to believe it’s possible. Millennials have passion and it’s something special. Don’t ever let that fire die, keep striving for more!

Social Justice Minded
While there were plenty of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who were activists and advocates, millennials take the cake for the sheer amount of people who are thinking and caring about the welfare of others. I would dare to call us the start of the “woke” generations. There is still plenty of racism and ignorance to go around but this generation has more people who are starting to show signs, in larger numbers than ever before, of caring for their fellow human and the plight that they may face because of their status in society. It took us long enough to get to this point but with the U.S. becoming more diverse, and with the internet allowing people to be exposed to different cultures and ways of life, we are starting to recognize at the core, we are not as different as some would like us to believe. Millennials can embrace the strength of being social justice minded by continuing to spread awareness about the injustices that still exist worldwide. We need to be the change we want to see in the world. Now that we know better, we need to do better, for everyone’s sake.

Highly Critical
Millennials are probably the most critical generation to date. Highly critical could seem like a negative a characteristic to some but it is actually an extremely valuable trait, especially recently. It used to be the case that we trusted our government representatives and other authorities to tell us the truth and to lead us to the best way. These days, no such trust exists, and for good reason. Millennials have witnessed an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows us we need to think for ourselves and be critical of any information we are being told. We have learned that school curriculum has neglected to tell the truth about American history, cops have killed people for no other reason than a dark skin tone, elected officials have been corrupt and abused their titles, banks and other lenders caused the housing market to crash that led to a nation-wide recession, and our current President puts our nation’s standing in jeopardy on a daily basis. It’s no wonder why we are so critical. We have witnessed too much deception to just blindly take anything that is given to us. Millennials can embrace this strength by finally asking the hard questions in an effort to uncover the truth in all forums. Keep asking questions, promote truth, and use the critical thinking to inspire more innovation and make revolutionary changes.

Action Steps: If you are a millennial consider what habits you might need to let go and which strengths you can embrace in the new year. Think about other ways that we can transcend the criticism and the negative connotation associated with being a millennial and turn it into a generation of innovative revolutionaries.

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