Google the term “millennial” and you’ll be greeted with a barrage of conflicting articles. While some writers bitch about millennials being entitled and lazy, others laud them as being superior workers with the capabilities to save the world.
The contradictions surrounding folks between the ages of 18 and 34 almost broke the internet last week, thanks to a scathing open letter first posted on Medium. Talia Jane basically whined about her low paying, entry level job at Yelp, claiming she earned $8 an hour after taxes as a customer service rep.
She went on to explain her dream of designing memes and how she had to work an entire year in one department (THE NERVE!) before being transferred to another. After the company read her public outcry about living off a bag of rice for weeks on end, they promptly fired her.
As a response to Talia’s bitchfest, freelance writer Stefanie Williams wrote her own open letter, detailing her journey from lowly barmaid to UTA-repped writer. Summed up, the letter basically slammed Talia’s non-existent work ethic and gave Stefanie a soapbox-esque moment, hailing the fact that she put in the time and effort to get to where she is today.
As a millennial who has been working for the last 15 years, both of these young women annoy the living shit out of me and show the duality that often plagues people of my generation. On the one hand, you have the coddled little girl who thinks she’ll be spoon fed a rad job in marketing without putting in the proper amount of grunt work. On the opposing side, you have a woman-girl who is likening her climb up the career ladder as an “I walked uphill both ways in a snow storm” story.
Work is fucking work. It’s not supposed to be fun. Fulfilling, yes, but fun, not so much. Especially during the first couple of years after college when you’re trying to find your footing.
Yah, I worked as a bartender my first few years out of college. I also worked as a dog walker at the ripe old age of 32. You shouldn’t get a “Most Shameful Job in the World” award, no matter what your profession is. Who the fuck cares that you worked as a hostess? Why are you still whining about how tough that time was for you?
In this case, in my humble opinion, both pieces represent the negative attributes of millennials. Despite Stefanie’s letter condemning Talia’s work ethic, her piece is still a “look at me, look at me” cry out for attention.
It should be an innate response to want to work hard for what you want. Hard work was a daily part of life for the poor souls living in the American Dustbowl during the 1920’s. It was a requirement for primitive men who needed to provide food and shelter to his clan.
My generation thinks of hard work as yet another reason as to why they’re special. Don’t believe me? Look up the term “adulting,” a buzzword millennials use when they’ve managed to pay a bill or take the cat to the vet.
In a time when it’s so, so SO easy to make money from the comfort of your bedroom in a t-shirt (I did it for years), hard work is becoming an elusive term. Laying a railroad is hard work. Hunting whales is hard work. Sitting in a plush office making useless memes about hamburgers isn’t hard work. Yes, being on your feet for 9+ hours as a bartender or hostess is exhausting (I did them both), but it doesn’t make you special. It makes you have a paycheck.