Being a Millennial, that’s okay

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At the Arka Tech, we’ve talked before about this current generation that most of us fall under—the Millennial. There are also a multitude of news articles, podcasts and opinion articles about how Millennials are ruining the world. We are apparently single-handedly responsible for destroying the restaurant and housing industry, and about 15 other industries.

What’s particularly concerning to us here at the Arka Tech though is the fact that most of us who are desperately trying to navigate our 20s, have absolutely no idea what we’re doing.

We are caught in an interesting conundrum. Our parents told us, “You can be anything you want to be. You want to be an astronaut? Go for it! President? Awesome!” But when we got out into the real world, it hasn’t exactly been that easy.

No one can say the Millennials haven’t been trying, though. The Pew Research Center indicated in 2015 that Millennials are well on their way to being “the Most Educated Generation to Date.” The percentage for men who are getting bachelor’s degrees is up four percent from our grandparent’s generation (the Baby Boomers), and three percent from our parent’s generation (Gen X). For women, that percentage is much more palpable. The percentage of women getting bachelor’s degrees from the Baby Boomer generation is up 13 percent, and the percentage from Gen X is up seven percent.

Despite our drive to get bachelor’s degrees, many of us remain under- or unemployed. According to npr.org, 3.8 percent of Millennials are unemployed. For those Millennials who don’t have a college degree, that statistic is much worse. Over 12 percent without a college degree are unemployed, and “about 22 percent of that cohort are below the poverty line,” according to npr.org.

Part of this has to do with the sluggish economy that our nation is sort of trapped in. But another part of it is that many of us refuse to settle. As a generation, we tend to want different things than our parents or grandparents. We want jobs that give us financial security, emotional happiness and allow us to still chase our dreams. In other words, we want well-paying, flexible jobs in fields we love.

Despite this, most of us are optimistic about the future. Forty-nine percent of Millennials believe that “the country is on the road to its best years,” according to npr.org, as of 2014.

So, we’re an ambitious, optimistic group of people. But, many of us, also suffer from mental health issues that can be debilitating. According to healthstatus.com, Millennials rate their stress at 5.4 on a 10-point scale. Which sounds average, but Baby Boomers only rated their stress at 4.7 and the Matures (the WWII group) rated their stress levels at 3.7. According to the same source, about 19 percent of Millennials suffer from some level of depression and anxiety.

Part of our abnormally high stress level could come from the fact that we’re worried about what’s going to happen when we graduate with these bachelor degrees and enter into an over flooded job market. Plus, it probably doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded by people (parents, reporters, teachers, doctors and pretty much everyone in our lives) telling us that we’re lazy and just don’t understand hard work.

At the Arka Tech, we can’t fix any of that. We can’t fix people telling you you’re lazy even though you’re working a full-time job and going to school and trying to balance career furthering clubs and internships on top of that. We can’t fix your anxious or depressed thoughts (we do highly recommend that, if you are having anxious or depressed thoughts, or if you’re just feeling overwhelmed, that you visit the Health and Wellness Center, or your own doctor to get the help you need). We can’t fix the fact that you are highly educated and still terrified about going out into the job world.

What we can tell you is that you’re not alone. We are all terrified. We are all anxious. We are all struggling through this. And we are almost all willing to help. We have yet to meet a Millennial who won’t sit down and drink some rosé or craft beer with you and commiserate about the trials and tribulations of navigating your 20s.

There are also multiple Ted Talks and podcasts that talk about being a Millennial and give you tips and tricks on how to interview, what to look for in jobs or internships and tell you how to figure out what you what to do for the rest of your life.

One of our favorite podcasts at the Arka Tech is a podcast called “Millennial.” This podcast was started in 2015 by Megan Tan, who had recently graduated college and was moving back home and facing unemployment. This podcast is “about what no one really teaches you—how to navigate your 20s.” Tan’s podcast covers everything from job offers to relationship issues to money to figuring out what the heck you want to do with the rest of your life. You can check out the podcast at millennialpodcast.org.

The Arka Tech just wants you to understand you’re not alone. We’ve all been down, or are going down, that road where you’re working, you’re going to school and you’re trying to balance your social life, and figuring out how to do your taxes, and wondering if you can ignore the fact that your vision has been blurry for a week because you can’t afford a doctor’s visit.

You are not alone. And there are resources that can help you. You are always welcome to shoot us an email at arkatech@atu.edu. If no one else will, we will commiserate with you over avocado toast and La Croix.