Millennials Are Ready to Own Up to Everything We’re Blamed For
I constantly hear that industries are dying thanks to millennials. But just like these worn-out stereotypes, millennials are getting old.
Sometimes I imagine how my parents reacted to my birth. Surely there was cooing. They probably fawned over my little conehead, declaring it cuter than all the other coneheads.
They couldn’t have known that years later, their daughter would be branded a literal “cereal killer.” But people didn’t use the term “millennial” back then. They weren’t yet aware that the new tiny human they were bringing into the world would be joining a generation blamed for killing off everything.
The slightly older, always cooler Gen Xers I rode the school bus with are struggling to throw off the yoke of “slacker,” but as a millennial born just this side of 1982, I’m still trying to pretend I’m worthy of being asked to sit in the very back seat. If I don’t tell anyone when I was born, will they think I’m one of them?
Linguists say “millennial” has become a title so complicated it’s officially a “skunk word.” Like the skunky weed we tried to hide from our parents, it’s a label we’re anxious to shed, for those of us born any time between the year the Challenger blew up and when we feared Y2K would destroy the world.
I know what I am. I’m just loathe to admit it.
What I’m not is a kid. I was a toddler when Sally Ride took to space. I remember (ever so vaguely) when we transitioned from Operation Desert Shield to Operation Desert Storm. I came of age before cellphones and online shopping, before texting and emoji. I’m older now, and I’m ready to own up to everything I’ve been blamed for.
I’m a millennial nearing 40, and I’m raising a teenager with gender-neutral pronouns who has no qualms about walking out of school when they want to let the world know they’re scared of something. They’re scared all the time — of being shot in school, or the sun exploding in a hot ball of fire.
I’ve lived through a lot, which is why it’s getting old to hear the same tired stereotypes about millennials killing off outdated industries by refusing to buy products we don’t use or need.
As if I’m personally responsible for the death of greeting cards. I didn’t spend $5 in a store and $10 on postage this year to tell my college roommate — who’s now living in Australia because they had enough of the U.S. — that I remembered they were born. I celebrated their special day on Facebook, just like my baby boomer aunt will do in a few months when I hit the ripe old age of 38.
Apparently I’m a diamond killer too. My then-fiance and I were eating Lipton noodles every night to pay rent, so we didn’t dare “go to Jared.” Our bad. Or what is it the kids are saying these days? No cap? (Sorry. Old.)
I’m a millennial, and I just found out the sun damage dotted over the tops of my shoulders has officially risen to the level that the dermatologist says I should probably get treated. I didn’t put up a fight when I was blamed for killing the primary care physician because I was caught in a weeks-long game of phone tag trying to convince my health insurance to cover it. My husband and I are debating what we can cut in the budget if we get another denial.
I watched stupid television like ‘Party of Five’ and ate stupid food like Dunkaroos.
I’m already anticipating the future headlines covering the things we opt to sacrifice in order to ward off the inevitable. If I can pick my tabloid name, I’m thinking quick and easy, straight to the point: Gasoline Killer.
Did I kill the workplace too? Like a growing number of the people born after the Cold War but before the War in Afghanistan, I work from home. Fifty percent of the modern workplace is compatible with at least part-time telecommuting, and 40% of the workforce works from home at least part of the time. I do it because I don’t want to get caught in the mommy war over staying at home and working out of the house. Because I didn’t want to choose between my small hometown and the big city dream work. Because: technology.
I’m a millennial, and I watched stupid television like Party of Five and ate stupid food like Dunkaroos. I wore stupid bits of fabric in my hair that have somehow come back to haunt me in the form of scrunched up circles abandoned on my living room table for the dog to mistake for snacks. I’m a millennial who makes late-night runs to the emergency veterinarian when she could be out killing something perfectly innocent from our past. Like McDonald’s. Or napkins.
Or the sugary food masquerading as a healthy start to your day. I just saw they turned Hershey’s Kisses into a breakfast cereal. I hope to God my teenager doesn’t notice. I don’t need another fight.
I’m a millennial, and I’m tired.
Tired of being blamed for everything that wasn’t all that great going away.
Tired of feeling like I’m supposed to put up a fight for the practically shitty.
Tired of trying to explain that I’m not a teenager — I’m trying to raise one.
So yes, I killed pet food because I couldn’t bear to lose another dog to cancer and I started making my own. I killed sex in parks because I didn’t want my kid to open their TikTok tomorrow to get a peep show courtesy of their parents. And if you want to blame me for the inevitable demise of Walmart, please go ahead and count me okay with supporting workers’ rights over cheap T-shirts.
I’m a millennial. I’ve got a kid to raise and a mortgage to pay. And I may just “kill” anything that stands in my way.