The Millennial Mentality: More Than Memes, Cats & Mishaps Introduction

Why I Wrote This Book

Millennials are the most misunderstood generation of our time and I want to change that. We are often characterized as lazy, entitled narcissists, and poor workers who bounce from one career role to the next. From the lens of a Millennial, I challenge that we are the complete opposite. We are the do-gooders who confront traditional belief systems and bring awareness to social norms that need reformation. We are the free spirits not married to making a high income, but for living life fully and happily. And we are the creatives, who like meaningful and life-changing projects to drive our success in the midst of our oftentimes blurred work and life “balance.”

Everyone likes an underdog story, and that’s why I wrote this book. Millennials are that underdog. Bred as over-achievers since kindergarten, we have struggled to find footing in traditional workplaces. We have struggled to date. We have struggled to pay off student loans that exist in the trillions. We have struggled to survive as adults in general, hence the phrase “delayed adulthood.” But we have also succeeded, and our successes have been big victories.

We’ve pioneered new and more positive ways to work, creating workspaces that offer increased flexibility, autonomy, and peer-to-peer collaboration. We’re changing the way other generations look at the world by protesting things that are important to us, like body image inclusivity for people of all shapes and sizes, race-relations domestically and across the globe, and the unfair treatment of women, from the lower wages earned in Western cultures to the denial of girls receiving education in developing nations. In this way, Millennials are revolutionaries, thought-leaders, and a generation of activists.

I want our story as Millennials to be told, and I want a chance to undo the negative stereotypes. We were thrown into the myriad rules of adulthood ruled by tradition, systemic institutions, and cookie-cutter socializations. Now, as we change the landscape of what it means to be an adult, we have the chance to change other generations’ outlook on the world as well. And that is something worth noting and vying for. I wanted our story told because we are not the “Me” generation, but the “Why Not Me” generation, and that is what makes us worth reading and learning about.

Who is Generation-Y?

Bemoaned as a generation of entitlement and nicknamed the Internet Generation and the Boomerang Generation (among others), we have heard all of the cultural criticisms and backlash about our transition into adulthood. But we have made it through that knothole, sometimes being strung through backwards, crossing into the threshold of our mid-twenties and early thirties.

A lot has changed, and we have inspired a lot of these changes. Believed to be the “gayest” generation—or the generation with the most openly gay people—we are tolerant of everyone loving whomever they happen to love. We are reshaping race relations in response to hundreds of Black Americans being beaten to death by law enforcement, disenfranchised, and let down by the myth of a post-racial society. We are challenging standards for women’s equality and the surmounting media culture that encourages an unhealthy body image. And, interestingly, as the Internet Generation, we’re accomplishing this by way of social media protests, or what was once considered Slacktivism, in addition to countrywide riots. We are informing our own nation, as well as those abroad, about unjust policies and discriminatory traditions using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, Snapchat, and others to satisfy our need for immediate action.

Yes, our value systems have changed. Yes, our beliefs have expanded to be more inclusive. Yes, our life goals have shifted to prioritize happiness over workplace cubicles in gray-scale offices. Our ROI in higher education, a value proposition promising us if we worked hard we would be rewarded, failed us. Our caps, gowns, and diplomas lost their promised value, and were stripped of merit as we entered an economically dilapidated workforce during a historically low depression. It is no secret that the majority of us limped away from our education. A ball and chain of student loan debt in the trillions keeps us from the stable life we used to dream of before the name Sallie Mae became our uncomfortable wakeup call into adulthood, with no option to hit snooze.

To those who knew us as the Boomerang Generation, at first we could not afford to move out of our parents’ homes, but the businesses we started on our journey to find inspiring work shows our penchant for leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation. For those who credited us as the Generation of Entitlement, of course we felt privileged to experience the success promised to us, when what we really worked toward was an elusive American dream based on a faulty reward system. We scrambled to change the landscape of success, and we are vehemently working to realign the system to work for and with us. We are Generation-Y, a culture of tech-innovators, policy-changers, counter-culture-bohemians, always-in-transit-hipsters, and, most importantly, informed citizens.

We may not be homeowners with 2.5 children, grasping mid-rung on a corporate ladder, but we are cat- owners, adaptable to change, creatively crowdfunding ways to champion our projects and goals. No more busy work that relates little to our talents for a pay bump and title change with limited perks and benefits. Our startups will instead revolutionize workplace tradition by way of more flexibility, peer-to-peer opportunities to learn, and unlimited vacation days.

So, while we are binge-watching our favorite new diversity-inclusive television shows on Netflix, like Orange is the New Black or anything by the multi-talented Shonda Rhimes, starting our own business modeled after non-traditional practices, or advocating for more social equality in every facet of our lives, we are also fighting to accomplish our own individual dreams to support ourselves. The dreams that made us work hard in the first place. We are Millennials, and we’re changing the way you see the world, while inventing the future.

Why You Need This Book

This book covers information about one of the world’s most interesting and dynamic generations: Generation-Y or, more precisely, Millennials. Studies circulate regularly covering Gen-Y habits: from our spending and budgeting tactics to why we’re marrying later and waiting to buy homes. Reports even discuss our work ethics, oftentimes in a negative light. I cover these subjects, plus more, with a different take. As a Millennial, I look at the different things that affect our behavior and motivate our actions. I also share comedic anecdotes, providing a wider lens.

Millennials are the most fascinating generation to cover because we have so much to lose, but also the most to gain. As we disrupt traditional standards, create a more culturally inclusive society, and use hyper-connectivity to initiate online protests and strategize social justice movements, our restructuring is creating the optimal time for change and revolution.This correlates with advancements in technology and the web space, mobile evolutions, and social media.

Being a technologically savvy generation, or Digital Natives2, we aim for constant and instant social connectivity, merging the different facets of our lives. Sometimes, this can play out haphazardly, leading to social mishaps along the way, or sometimes we can create immediacy…urgency, giving life to a new protest with hashtag activism. We’re more connected than ever and we know this empowers us.

Learn what it is like to live, eat, breathe, and sleep Millennial, the poorest generation of overachievers you will meet. Each chapter starts off with a surprising fact about the subject matter at hand and is denoted as “Truth Bomb,” and ends with a list of information that pinpoints specific facts, events, and movements that were not included in the chapter. This means, even if you are a Millennial, you can still find bits of information helpful like discovering the difference between income-based repayment and income-contingent repayment, learning about impactful social justice movements, or reading how, even after electing a Black president, we haven’t made it to a Utopian post-racial society despite beliefs that we have.

If you aren’t a Millennial, discover what we need as employees. Learn about the cultural revolutions we’re sparking including the need for women’s equality worldwide, inclusive LGBT+ rights, body image positivity, and more. Our undying infatuation with cats, our obsession with Harry Potter, and our love of selfies are a few quirks that capture the day-to-day life of Millennials, when we are not working to change the world for the better. Even if you’re just curious about Millennial culture, you’ll find something new to give you a fresh outlook on this again and again misperceived generation.

Who Am I?

I am a cat lover, activist, and most importantly, a writer who relishes in telling great stories. The Generation-Y narrative is significant to me because I grew up in a time period where pulling all-nighters, getting straight A’s, and signing up for extra-curriculars was necessary in order to earn acceptance into a notable college. Rinse and repeat the same process at university, and I was told that I could land a job in my desired career field with a decent pay. Fast-forward almost a decade, and the job market is only now starting to recover.

Finally, I can start a savings account, as well as put money away in a 401K. I’m also now working in an exciting and meaningful role, while having enough funds to pay off that pricey college tuition after years of having low wages and unispiring work. Talk about a delay!

My being part of Generation-Y, a generation that prides itself on having information and accessing that information instantaneously, means that I am part of a larger culture that wants to see positive and consistent change. We acknowledge that, in some facets of Western culture, reform is imminent.

As a Millennial, I have lived to see a Black American occupy a spot as President while simultaneously witnessing the persistent and systemic racism. I’ve lived to see the federal legalization of gay marriage, and watched LGBT+ friends revel in the excitement of liberty while the suicide rates for LGBT+ teens have endured.

I’ve lived to see advances in technology that seems to be happening at unquantifiable speeds—from my first Barbie computer in the 90s to my touch-screen tablet, while developing countries are still working on accessing things like running water and working electricity. I’ve lived to experience the shift in media to include body-positive messaging, inspiring me and many other women to be confident, regardless of size, while eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are rampant. I have lived through many changes, but, as a Millennial, I know there is still so much more our culture can do to create a forward-thinking progressive and inclusive society. And I want to be part of that change.

I am Elan Carson and I am a radical, do-gooder, creative-thinking Millennial with a story to share.