The Millenials are coming. They’re here.
They’re self-entitled, coddled by their parents, smart but apathetic go-getters waiting for opportunities worthy of them to fall in their lap. Born in or after 1982, they swim in new media, spending every waking moment on a cell phone, blog or Facebook. Employers have begun refusing to hire them, frustrated with their lack of experience and their expectation to receive the finest company perks.
Where do I fall in the middle of all this? See my incomplete Millenial checklist below.
Outstanding levels of media consumption +
Not a self-reliant latchkey kid –
Sense of entitlement –
Waiting around for the ideal to come around –
Born 1982 or after +
Saddled with debt –
I do this tongue-in-cheek.
My entire life, what I’ve seen in popular culture on TV or wherever else, has had little relevance to the way I grew up and was raised. My parents immigrated to the States in the late 1970s. They weren’t weed-smoking hippies. Neither of my grandmothers resembled June Cleaver. They didn’t even know what a vacuum cleaner was and have probably only seen one during the few months of their lives that they visited the States. I didn’t grow up seeing (or expecting to see) anyone that looked like me on TV or magazines. We ate rice, curry and vegetables for dinner almost every day, not baked chicken or meatloaf or apple pie, though my mother is very good at making those things as well. We grew all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the backyard that my parents grew in India.
Family means everything. Individualism would be a joke or a slap in the family’s face. My parents always put their children first. We went on family vacations and traveled all over the country. We were involved in a close-knit Indian community (which may be why our weddings typically comprise 400 to 1200 guests these days.) My parents taught my brother and me to be thrifty. I didn’t know anything about getting a perm or straightening my hair or even wearing what the other kids were wearing. Those influences or that pressure to be like others or to embrace pop culture just wasn’t there to the same extent it may have been for others.
My brother and I stayed home by ourselves at an early age while our parents worked. I came home from school alone with my key as early as third grade. We didn’t go to summer camp and entertained ourselves outdoors or inside with the TV. While other parents pretty much did the class projects of my peers in kindergarten, I did my projects on my own, and they didn’t always look as nice as everyone else’s. Before we were old enough to go to school, one parent worked nights and the other worked days to ensure someone was around to watch us. This is while they were still grasping to learn the culture and master the English language.
Sesame Street was pretty good about showing snapshots of life in immigrant families, but I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else as a young child.
All this to say that there is a large group of people in the United States that was raised with different experiences than what the mainstream media assumes everyone grows up with. So not all of us fit in the category of self-entitled, had-it-easy Millenial.