Culture

What is this Millennial Entitlement of which you speak?

Editor’s Note: Here’s a little #throwbackthursday post I wrote while pondering when I would make this blog active a few months back. Enjoy!

I recently caught wind of the buzz that has been going around for Nasty Gal CEO Sophia Amoruso’s memoir and business guide book “#GIRLBOSS”. Although I still haven’t read it, I came across an interview feature she did with nymag.com to promote the book and was compelled to talk about something that was mentioned in the feature.

The interview highlighted how Sophia began her successful vintage clothing company on EBay. However, more interestingly than that it also went into her humble beginnings being caught stealing a George Foreman grill, being fired from a shoe store job just as she had discovered a hernia growing in her groin and being left with no health insurance. You know, the kind of story that champions of the world are built from. The point that really had me standing straight with eager concentration as I read the feature from my phone behind my work cash register was, when she spoke about young millennials having a feeling of entitlement as if things should be handed to them. Amoruso having had a string of shitty jobs stated very explicitly in her book that “A lot of people in my generation don’t seem to get that you have to work your way up,” she writes. “I don’t care if filing invoices is beneath you. If you don’t do it, who do you think is going to? Your boss? Nope. That’s why she hired you.”

I can honestly say that I have been guilty of this a time or two, whether I was working in retail or as a personal assistant. As much as I have a strong will to work, I often find myself thinking “What does it take to get to where I want to be? Do the successful people I look up to have two heads or am I just not working hard enough?”  I personally don’t have any severe symptoms of this entitlement struggle that is so much spoken about when talking about 20-somthings but I completely understand it. Especially in this social media age that we are in now. Those of us born into and in the 90’s have grown up with the internet and the growing number of social media platforms that allow all our friends to share the highlights of their lives and that includes their work achievements and the people they rub shoulders with. None of us can lie that although we are happy for them we can’t ignore the bitter taste left in our mouths as we think about where we are and where we want to be right after we double tap to like their post.

With so many young entrepreneurs in the world today there can be a sense of wanting to speed up the process. However, what I recognise daily is that most of us that are part of “Generation Y” are a lot more focused than given credit for. How else would you explain the successful percentage of us? I also recognise that it’s easy to come down on this generation as being directionless, but this generation is producing millionaires and a lot of focused creatives who are paving unconventional career paths.

As much as I agree with Amoruso in the idea that one must work their way up to get to where they ideally want to be, however I also see that with everything there are two sides to this argument. An article on Salon.com spoke about how millennial entitlement in a myth and “Generation Y” don’t feel sorry for themselves as much as the media lets on. As much as I’m sure there are young people sprinkled all over the place who feel as though wealth and lavish living is a birth right, there are just as many of us who are encouraged by the idea that if we work smart and make the right moves in the right direction we’ll get closer to our goal with every step. Let’s not forget that fact that there are also a lot of us out here working for free (knowing full well that we can’t afford to) in an attempt to gain knowledge that we could gain from a free webinar or career conference.

I say all this just to say, I don’t think 20-somethings necessarily feel entitled to some sort of high position, if anything we want to have access to someone (a mentor if you will) who can give us first hand advice of whether we are doing things right and how to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Yes, there are some of us who want it all and think we are better than we are, however, the rest of us want to work hard and be respected for our work and efforts.

 

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