I’ve known what it feels like to be stereotyped since I was born. I mean, I’m a woman, so I’ve already heard all the “you drive like a woman” jokes. Yes, I do drive like a woman, probably because I am a woman. But that rant is for a different article.
The other day I found myself up against a new stereotype: the way people view millennials. I watched a video on YouTube where people my age were defined by someone who wasn’t a millennial at all, but was in fact years older than me.
The video was labelled: “Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace.” Many people on my Facebook were sharing this video, and I wanted to see what was so great about it. I won’t lie, I definitely agreed with him on some of the points he was making. I could easily name some young people I know who feel entitled, who have always been given what they want simply because their parents believe their children deserve everything they desire. But that isn’t the case for every person born into this generation.
Sinek, who is an author, motivational speaker, and marketing consultant from London, England, described a number of attributes associated with the so-called money-hungry, lazy, attention-seeking divas we call “millennials.” These include our disgusting addiction to social media (he’s right — I can’t say no to a good cat video), and our inability to hold down an entry-level job because we’re just never satisfied.
All of those arguments didn’t bother me as much as his ideas about my generation’s sense of entitlement. Sinek states that millennials’ sense of entitlement stems from failed parenting, technology, impatience, and the environment we grew up in.
As he provides us with this checklist, I don’t find myself ticking off any of the boxes that confirm that I’m the definition of a stereotypical millennial.
I’m about to give you my sappy life story, because it relates to work ethic, and how that plays into the character of individual human beings, rather than certain age groups or entire generations.
In 1977, my mother moved from England to Canada with her family. When my father was 18, he moved away from everyone he knew in Nova Scotia to find work and make a life for himself in Alberta.
My mother gave birth to my older sister at the ripe old age of 18. I grew up visiting the fast food restaurant my mom worked at, and I waited for my father to come home every day from his job as a machinist. I didn’t understand the sometimes difficult life my mother and father had to lead in order to support my sister and me.
My mother was able to complete her certificate of registered dental assistance while working and taking care of my sister, who was only a toddler at the time. My father worked long hours trying to support his family, while at the same time being the kind of dad some could only dream of having.
I got my first real job working as a sales associate at Leon’s Furniture when I was 14. I never quit a job until I had a new one lined up, because that’s what I was taught. If I wanted something I didn’t necessarily need, I had to work hard and earn it. I then worked for five years at a senior’s lodge every second weekend throughout high school, and continued doing so after I graduated.
My point is that I don’t belong in the stereotypical definition of a millennial, and there’s a good chance you don’t, either.
I’m really fortunate, more so than a lot of others. But the fact is that many millennials I know are grateful for how lucky they are. They recognize that not everyone was dealt a good hand in life. This is what sets me, and everyone like me, apart from Simon Sinek’s definition of a millennial.
I was not born with a sense of work ethic or appreciation for what’s been provided to me; my parents taught me that. I don’t believe people are born with a sense of entitlement; they’re taught that as well. I’m a millennial because I was born in 1994, but that’s about it.