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The millennial conundrum

Inside the mind of the digital native

By Angelu Rea Zafe

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Much has been said about the generation of today’s twenty-somethings. Born between 1980 to 2000, Millennials occupy a diverse place in the spectrum of society between being college students to young executives in the work force. They’ve been called a lot of names: selfish, privileged, narcissist, lazy, obsessed with being politically-correct—the list goes on. But are those labels really true, or is the older generation being too harsh?

In a seminar called “Understanding Millennials: The Hashtag Generation,” noted film director Jose Javier Reyes, who is also a senior professional lecturer, helped educators of the country understand the Millennial generation in order to be able to teach them effectively and efficiently. Here are five things we learned about this generation of digital natives:

They are competitive

LETS TALK ABOUT THE KIDS Film director Jose Javier Reyes during his lecture on understanding Millennials

LETS TALK ABOUT THE KIDS Film director Jose Javier Reyes during his lecture on understanding Millennials

“Millennials today are pressured by their own expectations,” said Reyes. According to him, Millennials see everyone as their competition, most especially themselves. As one of the largest living generations, it’s extra hard for the Millennials to make a name for themselves in their chosen industries, which is why being highly competitive probably isn’t such a bad thing.

Now that everyone has their own cameras, laptops, or cellphones, everyone can be a photographer, writer, or whatever they want to be which makes the competition these days tougher. “Dati kakaunti lang kaming mga director, ngayon kahit sinong may camera pwede na (Before very few of us could make films, now anybody with a camera can shoot),” Reyes said, remembering that only a few of them had the opportunity to make films. But now, everyone can shoot short films with their mobile phones, making it even harder to succeed in your chosen field, which is why being competitive has become the default feeling.

They take rejection hard

According to Reyes, Millennials demand constant affirmation and because of this, they don’t take rejection very well. Having grown up in a time full of ‘likes’ and ‘hearts,’ Millennials want instant gratification. And when they get the opposite of that, Millennials can take it hard when they feel ignored or unappreciated. Rejection can be hard for anyone; the only difference is that Millennials have Twitter accounts to publicly talk about it.

They want things fast (and faster)

Dubbed as the “Google Generation,” Millennials expect everything to be fast. “Google has made research available, but also superficial,” said Reyes. He also emphasized that Millennials think they instantly know everything about a topic after Googling it which makes it hard for them to go into deeper analysis.

Millennials wanting to learn and be able to do different things just shows how much they want to improve. Today’s generation, more than anything, are risk takers who are not afraid to try anything new. They could be studying Medicine, and still making calligraphy on the side. They could be Architecture graduates who sing for a rock band during their free time or Engineering majors who are also food bloggers, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. If Millennials can excel in two—or I don’t know, maybe even more fields, then good for them, right? After all, no one ever said that you can only do one thing for the rest of your life.

They are ‘Jacks of all trades’

Millennials believe that being good at only one thing is not enough anymore. They want to learn and be an expert at a lot of things. While that is definitely not a bad thing, the side effect of this is their “obsession with being young.” According to Reyes, because of wanting to do a lot of things, Millennials fear getting old.

They want to keep on moving

Millennials are known for not being able to stay in one job for a long time. “This generation values mobility more than security,” Reyes stated. This is because they want to be able to explore all possibilities. Reyes also noted that Millennials believe that their time is only theirs and never anyone else’s which can give the  impression of them being selfish.“Flexibility and mobility are important for them because they don’t want to be tied down,” said Reyes.

More than being the ‘me generation’ and ‘selfie generation,’ I think Millennials are also the misunderstood generation. We get called obsessed with being politically correct when we speak up about a social issue, and then get called apathetic when we don’t. We get called lazy and spoiled for being in jobs we don’t like but also get called selfish for knowing what we do want and for doing everything to achieve it.

The trick, whatever generation you come from, is just to stay true to yourself.