A Millennial on Millennials

Source | LinkedIn : By Shelley Cheng

1998. I arrived into this world just in time to witness the grim rise of terrorism as well as some of the most traumatic events in recent history. I’ve seen countless economies fail, wars declared, viral epidemics, and the strength of the world’s strongest empire put to the test as the tragedy of 9/11 and continued terrorism ravaged the proud and beautiful nation of USA.

I have an acute understanding of the threats in our world, but as a proud borderline member of the Millennial generation and Generation Z, there’s plenty I’ve got going for me: technology, social networking, and constant scientific advancements. I was in time to see “Google” become a verb, the International Space Station launch and orbit the Earth, Apple’s iPhone launch, Pluto’s loving greeting and the discovery of liquid water on Mars.

So the big question: who am I? Who are we? Who are the Millennials?

Are we nervous, jittery, risk-adverse kids that will be stuck in our parents’ basement for most of our 20s? Are we traumatized, afraid, or cynical? Are we addicted to technology, with earbuds in our ears and our eyes fixed on a smartphone screen? Are we irresponsible, narcissistic, or entitled?


Of course there are some that portray these stereotyped traits, but you may be surprised to find that the majority of us are just people. People with interests, tastes, guilty pleasures, goals, passions, ambitions and dreams. People not so drastically different from you.

Many of us – or at least many of my peers – are incredibly driven and hardworking young adults that understand the challenging employment, education, social and political atmosphere we must all inevitably face. There’s so many people in the world, so much talent, so many dreams, so much competition – at least a few billion more than our parents’ generation, and we’re prepared to step up to face it.

We must be ready.

So many of the inequalities and injustices in our world have become apparent and undeniable in the first decade of the 21st century, and we simply cannot accept it as “the way things are.”

We want to affect change – pervasive, effective, and meaningful change. We care about the environment, the rights of minorities, refugees, science, crime, terrorism, gun laws, and politics. We care.

With so much turmoil and injustice that demand action in the world, we sometimes struggle to understand who we are as people independent of outer influences. Our true selves are sometimes overwhelmed by our desire to help the world and answer society’s needs. I’ve met talented artists that have devoted their lives to non-profit organizations, charities and volunteer work in developing nations at the expense of some of their own dreams. There’s musicians delving into science and engineering, history majors entering politics, mathematicians switching to aerospace engineering, hockey players laying down their stick for medicine. Many of us have sacrificed some of our true passions to satisfy our compulsion to help our world and those in need.

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