I Never Thought I’d Be One to Defend Millennials

Vanessa Torre

They’re a thin target and we should have their backs.

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I’m a Gen Xer. I’m pretty proud of that. While some members of older generations tell us how to do everything, some of the members of younger generations ask us how to do things. We’re over here thinking, “Leave me alone. Don’t talk to me. I’ll figure it out.”

We were the latchkey kids. We were the ones left with instructions on how to make the Shake and Bake Chicken before our parents came home. We’re hard-working. We’re freakishly independent. We don’t complain. Too much.

Admittedly, I used to have a lot of prejudice against millennials. They bugged me. I spent four years as a high school English teacher and was annoyed with the fact that I felt they couldn’t do anything on their own. Unless I gave them explicit instructions, everything broke loose. I’ve completely forgiven that for exceptionally valid reasons.

I think there’s way too much controversy around the phrase “OK boomer.” I understand the intent of the phrase, though. If I was a millennial, I’d be pretty exasperated, too.

It must be hard to be that misunderstood by a large group of people who are not necessarily willing to understand your side of most things and looking for every opportunity to remind you how much better than you they are.

Millennials are called snowflakes all the time. I hear boomers say that millennials are fighting for the right to free abortions. No. That’s ridiculous. There’s a desire for readily available, low-cost reproductive health care. That’s what people of child-bearing age want. They don’t want abortions. They want the means to be able to prevent them from ever being necessary. So we make fun of their desire to be responsible?

Millennials completely overhauled how we work. It was needed. Why on earth would we push back on that? I work from home one day a week. This was unheard of until younger people started pushing for the opportunity.

Millennials value work/life balance. For the first time in a decade, I only work 40 hours a week at my day job. Yet, all we seem to recognize is the desire to have beanbag chairs at work? Newsflash: no one really cares about beanbag chairs. Everyone knows they’re cheaper than footing the bill for affordable healthcare benefits. “Hey, kids! Your insurance deductible is $10,000 but we have the beanbag chairs you wanted!”

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Millennials come under fire for spending wads of money on music festivals like Coachella. I can tell you with great certainty, it’s not their fault the tickets are so damn expensive. And they’re not the first generation to love music festivals. Gen X had Lollapalooza. Boomers had Woodstock.

Millennials don’t seem to care about luxury cars. But, they choose to spend $500 for a festival instead of a car payment and the world loses its mind? I don’t think so.

Older generations complain that millennials are soft and entitled but we’re the ones that made them that way. Participation trophies didn’t hand themselves out. That was our doing. We sheltered them and then blamed them for it.

When I was teaching, I had plenty of kids who were coddled by their parents. When they got a B, the kids weren’t the ones in my office fighting for the grade to be changed. It was the parents. Parents who were boomers. It’s disenfranchising to complain about a problem you created. I’m over it.

I hear people complain that millennials just want to be vagabonds who want to drive around in vans and live in tiny houses and in communes. That may be so, but if a housing crisis, well over a decade ago, caused by businessmen most likely retired by now, hadn’t happened, maybe they’d trust a real estate market. We killed the American Dream and find fault in the new one they crafted.

They complain about student loan debt and older generations find it annoying that they want forgiveness. Millennials can’t help it that the cost of tuition has increased exponentially. By that, I mean 213% in the last 20 years.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that generations before them forced down their throat that they would be nothing without a college degree, like it would be a shame stain to not go to college.

Millennials and Gen Z are the future and I’m not the least bit afraid. They are pioneers. They're innovative. They think outside the box. They come to the table with solutions. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do some work. They just want to do it their own way. Sticking them into a box and making them do it our way isn’t going to get them anywhere and isn’t going to serve us any benefit.

Millennials, I see you. I got your back. I’ll continue to have the conversation long after “ok boomer” has left your lips.

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Flaming pinball, nerd, music lover, wine snob, horrible violin player. No, she won’t stop taking pictures of her drinks. vanessaltorre@gmail.com IG: vanessaltorre Twitter: @vanessaltorre

Phoenix, AZ
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