It’s tough being millennials. I know I may have a barrage of older readers coming back with “You don’t know you’re living” or “Back in my day…” but this is my blog and this is the world through my eyes.
I was born in 1991 and just turned 26 so I fit neatly into the “Millennial” bracket. Over the last few months I’ve been becoming increasingly frustrated with life as a “millennial” in general – as well as specifically in Belfast.
It drives me crazy to see people of my generation being branded by society and the media as “lazy” or “entitled”. Especially when those writing the articles grew up in a different time, and were navigating the job and housing markets some 20 years before we were!
I know from googling and from talking to my own friends, that I’m not the only one who is experiencing this frustration and I want to get to the bottom of it.
Malcolm Harris, the author of “Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials” argues that Millennials set themselves up for success but effectively the odds are stacked against them.
Millennials are in the most debt and they face a higher level of depression than any other generation. Unemployment rates for Millennials are high despite being the most educated generation in history.
There are hundreds of challenges facing Millennials in 2017 – but I’m going to be taking about the ones that I have experienced first-hand.
When you’re at school, the “end goal” they present to you is university. If you get a degree you’ll get a good job. When I was 17, I was naïve enough to believe that I would graduate from university at 21 and walk into a solid job and I’d be set for life. I believed what I was being told – and why wouldn’t I? Young people trust their teachers and careers advisers to provide them with the correct information to set them up for later life.
The reality is the majority of university graduates end up moving back in with their parents and taking stop-gap jobs for months, maybe even years before eventually clinching that dream job or failing that, applying for post-graduate study or just accepting their fate. Honestly if I’d known that I could get to where I am today without having spent thousands of pounds on a university degree – well, you know what I’d do differently.
Why? Because entry level jobs are no longer “entry level”. They now require years of experience, and how can you gain experience if no-one will give you a chance at a job?
Brexit is another factor causing Millennials to worry about their career. Jobs are already being outsourced to other parts of Europe due to the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s departure from the EU. What’s worse, no-one is able to offer up a decent foresight as to where we might be in terms of jobs and prospects in a few years time.
Comparing Yourself to Others
In an ideal world, once you finish school you stop being compared to your peers. Who scored a few more marks in this test, who got picked for the school netball team, it’s a thing of the past, right? WRONG.
When you’re an adult – it’s exactly the same, only you’re hearing things like:
“Darren just got married”
“Karen has 2.5 kids already – isn’t that great?”
“Craig just became CEO of his own company”
“David and his wife just bought a new house”
You hear ALL about the successes of others and this is magnified as social media is right there in front of our eyes at the touch of a button. Not only can your granny tell you about what everyone else is doing, you can log onto Facebook and see such-and-such smiling with their wife and kids outside their shiny new home with your own two eyes. Whether intentional or not – this constant comparison to others can lead to huge implications on your mental health.
Research from the Varkey foundation shows that British Millennials have the second worst level of mental wellbeing in the world, second only to Japan. I mean, is it any wonder? Between worrying about money, job security and societal pressures along with any other hardships you may be facing in your personal life, it’s hardly a surprising statistic.
I’m one of the hundreds of thousands of millennials who are in thousands of pounds of student loan debt. True, you can say that it doesn’t need to be paid back until you earn above a certain threshold. But how depressing is it when 5 years later, you’re still not earning above the threshold?!
Within the next year, I hope to get a mortgage to help me buy a house with my partner as I’m renting at the moment. When you take rent, food, utilities and basic living expenses out of my total wages, there is precious little left to put away for a rainy day. This makes me wonder how you’re supposed to get on the property ladder, when wages are so low yet thresholds for mortgages and the cost of living are so high? Answers on the back of a postcard please.
I don’t believe that Millennials as a whole have an entitlement complex. We are constantly pitching our success against that of generations before us – where you could walk out of university and into a steady job for life.
Millennials work hard, and educate themselves to the highest possible level. I don’t think it’s out of line to expect some form of positive outcome as a result.
Perhaps we have unrealistic expectations – but we cannot be entirely to blame for that.
I’m tired of hearing that millennials themselves are responsible for these issues. It was in the hands of generations before us to create a fairer, more democratic and all-round better society for us to grow up in. In many respects, they have failed us. What did we get instead? An economic recession, a rise in tuition fees and the worst mental health situation ever recorded.
I really hope that we as millennials can use our experiences to better the world for Generation Y. We owe it to them to succeed where our predecessors failed.