I am a millennial, and I've realized an unfortunate truth about my generation.
No, it's not that we're lazy. Or rude. Or irresponsible. If all those millennial stereotypes were true, then I would be a selfish, disloyal, entitled, materialistic, know-it-all narcissist who will one day take selfies as I burn America to the ground. And while that sounds sort of fun in a twisted way and would probably be a really groundbreaking selfie, those stereotypes just aren't true.
That said, there is one thing I have noticed growing up with Generation Y, and I refuse to be cool about it any longer.
Millennials are late.
Yep, I said it. My generation is always 15 minutes behind schedule. We subscribe to the "fashionably late" school of thought. If you say "7:00," we hear "7:30." If you say, "RSVP by September 1st" you can bet we'll be RSVP-ing on September 2nd. And I, The Least Chill Millennial You Know, can't take it anymore.
I have always been a Type-A, five-minutes-early type of girl. If I'm ever late myself, I suffer from a combination of stomach cramps and shortness of breath, usually because I've started sprinting toward my destination. (God, I need to get in shape.)
But that same timeliness anxiety can't be said of my peers. I've found that my friends will saunter into brunch 20 minutes late and rattle off a quick "Sorry I'm late!" And I, following the unwritten "cool girl" script, will say "It's fine!"
IT'S NOT FINE. I'M NOT FINE. And fellow millennials, I don't think you should be fine either. Here's why:
When you treat your plans like an option rather than a can't-miss event, it reflects your level of respect for the people you made those plans with. Your lateness indicates to friends and family that their time doesn't matter to you. And while lateness is annoying in a social setting, it can be potentially lethal in your professional lives.
Millennials waste more time at work than any other generation, undercutting our evident desire to become leaders and make a positive impact. Being late also signals poor time management skills, which might cause colleagues to overlook you when exciting new opportunities arise. Perpetual lateness reflects ambivalence toward your relationships and professional duties that you might not even have intended.
If our generation seems inconsiderate, it's because we are. It's an unfortunate byproduct of our tech savvy -- turns out technology is a major factor in tardiness. Plugged-in millennials can dash off a quick "Running late!" text, or the classic "Be there in 15!" Letting people know you're behind schedule does not make waiting on you any less frustrating. And save it with those "Be there in 15" texts. We all know you haven't left your house yet.
Of course there are times when being late is unavoidable. Perhaps your subway car was hijacked by mole people or your bicycle was stolen by a merry band of thieves. Maybe you just plain overslept. Your friends will understand, especially if you're usually prompt. But if you're constantly playing the "Sorry I'm late!" card, your friends will feel taken advantage of. And then they won't help you steal your bike back -- or invite you to brunch in the future.
So here's my rallying cry. Millennials: when you make a plan, stick to it. Don't flake out because it's easier, and don't show up late because you had something better to do. Your personal and professional relationships will thrive with just this tiny extra effort.
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