By Serena Shapero
At some point in our lives, we’ve all felt judged or disconnected from one another. In having eye-opening conversations with Millennials and Gen-Xers, as a Millennial myself, I see that there is ample wisdom we have to offer each other — especially if we can take off our headphones for 5 minutes and listen. Here are three ways that Millennials and Gen-Xers can work together and grow.
1. The Work Force
Millennials will go through 10 jobs before turning 35. Because of this, they are seen as less reliable by employers. Millennials could learn about the experience Gen-Xers gained through trial and error. Gen X can provide insights and cautionary tales. Millennials have a huge desire to find the perfect job, but are generally more “big picture” and not always realistic about what it takes. Gen-Xers can help teach Millennials what it means to work in a traditional way so that everyone can expand their perceptions. We Millennials will be better received in the workplace if we acknowledge that every generation has paid its dues — maybe not the same dues, but dues nonetheless. Through this, our meaningful and innovative ideas will be heard and the older generations will feel more understood and listened to.
In general, both Millennials and Gen-Xers are very task oriented and give it their all when they feel passionately about something. Since both generations are technologically savvy, creative, forward thinking and entrepreneurial, we can actually harness each other’s skills and leverage them in our work place.
Millennials live in a hyper-stimulated world. They are constantly in motion, multitasking and plugged in. They understand networking through social media, the benefits of technology, and the power of organizing through online platforms. They have a great opportunity to teach Gen-Xers what they know. Even if it seems intimidating to some, it will ultimately create better communication between both generations. Instead of making technology a foreign, scary thing, they can help Gen-Xers to organize in new ways. Although Gen-Xers prefer to communicate via telephone and not e-mail, learning about new trends in social media will broaden their knowledge and access to information. It will ultimately increase their confidence and bridge gaps they have with Millennials.
Rachel, a Gen-Xer from Baltimore, says, “I grew up in a world where going to Blockbuster and watching VHS tapes were a big deal! Now with all new technology out, I’m embarrassed to say that I feel intimidated by what to use or how to use it. My generation gets the idea of technology but we also get how to live without it, which I think is pretty cool. Millennials can benefit from learning that from us. With that said, we can benefit from learning how to stay connected in the same way Millennials are. They are able to find information and network with so many people at the same time.”
3. Life Skills and Mentoring
Today, many Millennials are finding mentors in the Gen-Xers. Debra, a Millennial from Towson, says, “Making friends with the Gen-Xers and finding genuine mentors feels important to me, because they have just gone through everything I am about to experience. Especially if you are considering having a family or buying a house, it seems that Gen-Xers have a wealth of information to share. They aren’t my parents’ age, but they far enough along in life where I can envision myself in their shoes one day.”
Matt, age 26, says, “I cannot wait to be in my 30’s or 40’s. At that age, you get to maximize all of the knowledge you have while still knowing what’s cool with other generations. I think 40 will be my peak. At that point, you are either professionally accomplished or have at least had a large variety of experiences to call upon. I feel like I can learn a lot from the Gen-Xers.”
Josh, a Gen-Xer from Cockeysville, says, “I’ve really enjoyed hanging out with Millennials through my work and learning about how they view the world. I don’t see Millennials as narcissistic or lazy. Today’s young people are very focused on trying to work hard and get ahead. I’ve also noticed that community service among young people has exploded. Millennials today are way cooler than I was at that age, and I am excited for them to become the leaders of our world.”
Even though there are many things that one generation does better than the other, it is important to realize that we also have a lot in common. It’s not fair to define people based on what generation they were born into. I, for one, feel like a 40 year old stuck inside a 24 year old body. I go to bed by 10 p.m. almost every night and can’t wait for nights when I can do my laundry and take a hot bath. The point is, regardless of what your lifestyle choice is, there is always something to learn from someone else. Think about this—there are people in their 20’s and 30’s unemployed and unsure of their future, but there are others who are married with kids and working full time jobs. There are people in their 20’s and 30’s who are hitting the bars every weekend, and there are others who are back in graduate school postponing their careers until the job market improves. Because there is such a wide variety of lifestyles among Millennials and Gen-Xers, we can all use each other as valuable resources and enjoy what we have in common as friends.
By Serena Shapero, JCS Health Educator
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