Millennials have long been termed “the worst generation” in American history. And admittedly, those who casually write off Millennials as vapid social media-obsessed hipsters seemingly have an unlimited supply of ammunition to back up their claim, citing statistics and viral news clips as perfect examples. After all, we are the generation that flocks to the superficial pseudo-bohemian parade known as Coachella, gives the Cash Me Ousside girl 9.5 million followers on Instagram (and counting), and views a deceased Cincinnati Zoo gorilla as some sort of saint-like deity. By outward appearances, any Millennial with some self-awareness would understand why their generation is looked down upon. But as we all know, outward appearances can be deceiving, and so it is with this largest generation in America.
What many don’t realize about Millennials is that our negative attributes are key ingredients in creating a generation that is undoubtedly changing the world with advances in technology, entertainment, humanitarianism, and just about everything in between. While many see traits such as arrogance, disrespect, and entitlement as the defining characteristics of Millennials, these people fail to witness how these very same attributes are also responsible for pushing society forward. For example, the well known trait of Millennial arrogance is a powerful driver that has created prodigious 23-year-old CEOs and sparked countless apps and other inventions that are now used around the world. If you think about most visionary or legendary figures in a particular field—Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Frank Sinatra—many of them had this undeniable belief in self and fierce competitive nature that could easily be characterized as arrogant or even narcissistic. And yet, this attribute was instrumental in their success. Because Millennials believe in themselves more than any other generation, we are taking massive leaps in rewriting the history books and turning tradition on its ears. To put it in the immortal words of Kanye West, “I could let these dream killers kill my self-esteem or use the arrogance as the steam to powers my dreams.”
Millennials may live their lives differently than those of past generations, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Disruption isn’t just a buzz word tossed around in Silicon Valley offices, it’s the perfect word to describe Millennials and their attitude about life. We are the first generation that has been given the freedom to abandon blue collar values and chase our dreams, and we’re not scared to take this knowledge and run with it. We have helped to create a society that celebrates diversity and equality, and we vehemently defend our ability to express ourselves freely. We are a generation of content creators and digital influencers. The “faults” that many use to define our generation are actually fuel for the power we possess. As stated in the above talk, “everything we’re not makes us everything we are.” And that beautiful contradiction is why innovative and passionate Millennials will continue to change the world.
Robbie Tripp is the author of ‘Create Rebellion,’ an abstract manifesto for disruptive creativity. He lives in San Francisco with his beautiful wife Sarah.