The Un-Millennial


Millennials. I am one, my husband is one, and if you're not one yourself, then you probably know one. They say we want everything for free, we don't want to work, and we want all of life's luxuries at our fingertips. And why? Because we deserve it, of course. Because we were born into this world, and that is reason enough to be entitled to a wonderful life, a strong education, and anything we desire or need. And while that stereotype does hold true in many situations, not all of us can be grouped into the entitled, demanding, and offended generation. Because a lot of us, frankly, are not that. A lot of us are, in fact, completely opposite of that.

I remember when my husband and I went to get cheap, greasy pizza. I remember this because it was a really big deal. Our typical meals consisted of rice and beans with Worcestershire sauce. Our entertainment consisted of free, rented movies from the library. Our rent was cheap, our apartment was dark and murky, and our bathroom sucked up the smell from the neighbor's bathroom, which oddly smelled like rotting peanut butter pretty much always. Our Christmas gifts we gave to others that year consisted of homemade marshmallows and caramels. I did not go to the salon. We did not get fancy coffees. I did not get my nails done. We did not own a game station of any kind. Cable was unthinkable. Our furniture consisted of a couch we got off of Craigslist. We went to the laundromat to do our laundry. We both worked two part time jobs and were in debt. So when we went out to eat, it was a big deal. It was cheap pizza, but we were splurging, and we were happy.

We never felt the world owed us anything. If we could not afford it, we did not buy it. Had we not been able to afford our phones, we would have gotten rid of them. Our priorities were paying for food and bills, and everything else fell to the side. If we wanted a date night, we watched a free movie. We bought what we could afford, saved what we could, paid what debt we could, and lived to the fullest that we could.

We were raised to feel the need to be independent and strive for the lives we wanted. We both worked extremely hard and sacrificed a lot over the years. A 75-hour week was not a foreign concept to me, and coming home with stained clothes and dirty hands was a regular thing for my husband. We never stopped to feel sorry for ourselves and demand the luxuries some feel that they are entitled to. Honestly, we were too busy working, cooking our own food, and surviving. We did the things others would scoff at, in order to achieve the lives we wanted. We saved hard, worked hard, budgeted hard, and tried hard.

And two years later, we can look back with pride. We are debt free and have a stable income. We can afford to go on dates, eat at restaurants, and see movies at the theater. We can afford these luxuries now, because we did not demand them when we could not pay for them. We honestly felt that our survival was our responsibility, and ours alone. We did not feel that a certain quality of life was entitled to us simply because we were born.

Many may label us millennials as lazy or entitled, but I assure you, not all of us are. Some of us have a fierce, independent drive to the hard things that no one wants to do in order to achieve the lives that we want to have. Some of us are just focused on doing what it takes to survive on our own. So be careful labeling us. Stereotypes will never fit the whole group. And while there are some who demand free luxuries, some of us know that being able to pay for those luxuries out of our own pocket, with sweat and dirt trailing behind us, is the most wonderful feeling in the world.