Please stop using the M-word (Millennial)

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The M-word makes me cringe. I hear it in meetings, I read it in articles, I hear it in my head when I think about the CharlotteFive demographic.

“Millennial.” It globs around and off the tongue like a made-up vocabulary word for that SAT test that I barely remember taking. Twice.

I’d rather be called a “young professional” or a “twenty-something” or a “young woman” or, simply, “Katie.” Because when I’m called a Millennial, it automatically means I’m getting slapped with approximately 4 billion stereotypes. And if you were born between 1982 and 2004 (ish), so are you.

Let’s explore.

Stereotype: We don’t do anything good for society.

False. We have dozens of charitable young professional groups in Charlotte, from Young Affiliates of the Mint, to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Guys & Dolls fundraisers, to Guys With Ties Charlotte.

Or maybe some of us are slowly trying to figure out how our skill set can best serve others — I only just signed on to teach nonprofit “yoga for wellness” classes because I was previously unqualified.

Stereotype: We job hop.

It is mildly disturbing to think that I’ve had three jobs in the journalism industry over the past four years. But depending on the industry you choose, the cup doesn’t exactly runneth over with lifelong opportunities anymore.

Your path for personal growth may not be linear, and that’s OK, not frivolous.

Stereotype: We’re unprofessional.

Now now. I did wear a suit for my formal job interviews (that’s what they said to do when I was in college). But again, I think this clothing situation depends on the industry. I clomp around the newsroom with flip flops, skinny jeans and bike-helmet hair while my friend at Grant Thornton glides through the work day in heels, dress pants and sophisticated blouses.

She still hangs out with me in public, so that’s nice. And we both fulfill our expectations at our jobs, which is the key.

Stereotype: We are on social media, like, all the time.

Maybe so. But maybe not for the reasons people think. While we may take a tumble down the rabbit hole stalking our Facebook friends’ wedding albums from time to time, social media has its practical uses.

Social media groups are the way I pick up substitute positions for teaching yoga, Facebook event listings are the way I keep up with what’s going on in town, Twitter is a key source of breaking news or trending topics to consider writing about, and Instagram is a tool that can be used to build a personal brand.

Stereotype: We only communicate via text messages.

Largely, we might. But we’re not alone, and texts are quick and clear. I often use them for interview setups or switches — a lot of people prefer that. My friends use them to nail down a dinner time and plan as a group. My mom uses them to send me an address for an errand. CVS uses them to nag me about that prescription I still haven’t picked up.

It’s a digital era thing, not a Millennial thing.

Stereotype: We suck at dating.

I’m starting to think this might just be a human condition.

Stereotype: All we do is day drink on the weekends.

Good one. If I’m at a winery with my friend in Virginia? Yes. If I finally have some spare time to myself? I’m working out, vacuuming (at last!), running errands or scrounging up lunch with a friend.

A bunch of people may be at breweries, but a bunch of people may also be cavorting along the greenways or in the parks, tracking down donuts (related: I still don’t get the donut craze) or checking out the abundance of farmers markets, such as with this map.

Stereotype: We’re lost.

Apparently because we dream big but have limited economic prospects. Mostly, I dream of writing, I dream of stability, I dream of happiness.

And Marcus Aurelius was quoted as saying: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.”

I do not believe he got called the M-word.

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