The other day in the grocery store, searching for a line that was not too long, I decided to test out my husband’s “line” theory. One time, I complained to him about how I always seem to get stuck in the wrong line. He said, “That’s because you are looking at the length of the line, instead of the cashier.” Curious to see if he was right, and in no particular hurry this time, I pushed my cart past the shorter lines, the ones manned by older ladies with short, permed hair who paused at every item to comment on the weather or the unfairness of the price of eggs, and arrived at a longer line with a cashier 1/3 of the age of some of the others. The line moved quicker than I thought it would, thanks to the ease with which the young man could chat, scan coupons and produce and help bag the groceries. I usually try to give credit where credit is due, so I said “Wow, you are fast.” he shrugged and said, “I try to be.”
This short exchange made me think a few things: first, my husband was actually right about this, and secondly, and more relevant to this post, I thought about the fact that millennials often get a bad rap and that’s too bad, because I think that they are awesome.
Let me start by saying that I am firmly ensconced in Generation X, having a birth year of 1972. My husband is too, although just barely because he was born in 1965. We have two children, both millennials. I have worked with, and have both family and friends that are baby boomers, Gen Xers, millennials and even traditionalists, who were born between 1900-1945. I have realized recently that I enjoy working with, and hanging out with millennials the most, and here are 10 reasons why.
1. Millennials are great communicators. Because they grew up in a time where they were encouraged to talk about their feelings, they do, and this is great. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to know where I stand with someone rather than suffer through years of passive/aggressive BS and wonder if that person is mad at me or just a jerk.
2. Everyone knows that they are great multi-taskers, but as in the case of the cashier, we all can, and will benefit from this skill. This is great news for someone who is as impatient as I am.
3. They have time management skills. Many millennials had very structured childhoods. Practice, lessons, even free time was scheduled. Because of this, they know how to be where they are supposed to be, and on time.
4. They are willing to share their knowledge without judgement. They are patient and even chuckle fondly, shaking their heads at my helplessness when I ask them to help me navigate Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
5, They like to make connections. Thanks to social media, the millennials I know, seem to view the world as a smaller place than I did as a kid. They find it easier than some generations to find a common ground with any age group.
6, They work to live, not live to work. They already know what some people don’t find out until it’s too late. Life is too short to not have fun.
7. Many of them actually like their parents and enjoy spending time with them. As a mother of millennials, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. I’m pretty sure that my generation was not supposed to like their parents and certainly not choose to spend a Saturday night with them. I love that about this generation.
8. They are tolerant. They accept and appreciate different cultures, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations. Because of that, I know that they will not mind at all if I include this Bible verse from John 15: 12. “This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Millennials, you are great at this.
9. They received a trophies for participation as children. I know, I know, this is one of the things that other generations don’t like. Gen X’ers and baby boomers like to brag that if we got a trophy, it was because we were the best at something and we deserved it, not just received an award for showing up. I’d like to challenge that belief. How else are kids going to learn the value of trying something out and sticking with it even if they were not the best at it? I mean really, its well-known that hard work and dedication can carry you pretty far in life, even if you haven’t been born with a specific gift. Actually, why should someone be rewarded for raw talent as opposed to participation anyway? If you were born with it, that doesn’t make you special, just lucky. As adults, don’t we get the grownup equivalent of a trophy by bringing home a paycheck for showing up at work and at least participating? I believe that these kids learned life lessons about perseverance, commitment and just maybe, they got a little self-esteem boost, isn’t that what we want for our kids and traits we want to foster into adulthood?
10. Last but not least, someday a millennial might be pushing my wheelchair out to the courtyard at the nursing home. I’m counting on that diligent, parent-loving, connection building individual, with a passion for life who is looking for a little bit of fun, to take an extra minute and share a cigarette (yes, I quit 18 years ago, but plan to pick it back up in my final days!), and a laugh with me. I have no doubt one of them will.