What's a Millennial?

What the heck is a millennial anyway? Why do they have such a bad reputation? Is it true? Are YOU a millennial?

What the heck is a millennial anyway? Why do they have such a bad reputation? Is it true? Are YOU a millennial?


(TBT Post): This post was originally published on 4/1/16

A Millennial is anyone born between 1982-1999. Millennials are also known as Generation Y (click here to read the full history of how the term was coined and by who).

The word Millennial has gotten a bad rap over the years... with many people who do not understand our unique generation referring to us as "lazy" and "entitled", with many articles claiming that the entire generation has narcissistic personality disorder.

Heck, I can't even tell you how many times my own mother has spewed the word at me with disgust and disappointment! 

In this Forbes article, Chelsea Krost says it best "To set the record straight, the word millennial is not a dirty word. Unfortunately, the Millennial Generation has been labeled with stereotypes...which has created confusion and frustration amongst many Millennials and generations prior. This generation is often misunderstood and the ‘Millennial Hustlers’ of today don’t always get the recognition or credibility they deserve because we tend to fixate more on the negative than the positive about this demographic of people. Millennials are a generation unlike any before and we are pioneering new methods in the workplace, technology and ways of communicating that will have great impact on our near future.  It is crazy to me to think that we can define 80 million people with three negative stereotypes. Instead, I believe many Millennials are entrepreneurial, innovative, liberal and charitable.”

You see, millennials had an extremely unique upbringing. Many of us experienced helicopter parents, which limited our overall confidence. Many of us began seeking jobs during the recession which reinforced said limited confidence, and we are the first generation to really grow up with technology (both a blessing and a curse). We are the first generation to watch the rise of Silicon Valley and major companies being developed in dorm rooms. We are creative, out of the box thinkers that don't want to settle for traditional 9-5's. Instead we are creating new paths and paving the way for an even more creative generation. 

Our parents and grandparents followed very linear and traditional paths overall, and we're not. We are switching jobs more often, seeking more flexibility and freedom, and also more invested in social causes than any previous generation. We refuse to settle for work conditions that don't fit us and we refuse to give up on our dreams.

We know more about the impacts of bullying and mental health than any generation before us, and we understand the importance of connection (even though most people complain that we are disconnected on our phones all the times- what they don't realize is that we are Skyping, Periscoping, and Snapchatting other parts of the globe)!

So why the bad rap? 

I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but as someone who both fits the good and bad stereotypes of our generation, I would say being a millennial is pretty overwhelming. More overwhelming than any generation before us. We have watched people rise to fame and fortune over night. We have watched some of the most innovative companies come to life. There are more options and less limits than ever before... which for someone in their twenties, still figuring out who they are, can feel paralyzingly overwhelming. 

So what are we to do? 

I would say focus on building up your confidence. There's so much noise on the internet it can be easy to fall into comparison or perfection paralysis. Either try to do one more thing each day (proving you can manage your time and get more done than you expected) or pick one goal and really see it through. That's not to say give up on your other passions, but get really committed to creating one consistency in your life which you can use as a foundation to build on later. 

How can you choose that one thing? 

Ask yourself, what is the one thing in your life, that moves propels you forward to a larger goal? One thing that you could not live without? What one thing would you feel significantly less "you", or happy, or fulfilled without? Once you've got it write it down! Create a game plan to take it to the next level. Create a daily practice, set monthly goals, or figuring something else out that keeps you moving forward. 

Remember even the most successful millennials out there have worked their asses off and even though it may seem they reached their goals in under a year, most have been working towards them for years, so don't give up. 

With love,


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Rachel Ritlop

Rachel Ritlop is a millennial career and business coach. Rachel passionately empowers her clients to make more money and build their dream careers. Rachel is also the founder of TheConfusedMillennial.com, a Gen Y lifestyle blog sharing experiences, struggles, insight, and educating readers to navigate their twenties and thirties.