Guilty of Stereotyping GenZ and Millennials

Millennials, and now GenZ get a bad rep. And it’s not new, you know! As a GenXer (NOT A BOOMER!), I have faced it too: “Your generation just doesn’t work hard enough!” was what we were told!

So I am going to talk about a few Millennial/GenZ people who are on my mind this week. And how they busted some myths that are floating around about this generation.

Myth: They only think about themselves
First, Pradeep and Lalit, the co-founders of the NGO, Learning by Locals. Earlier this week, I visited them and spoke to women students of a fellowship they run. It gave my privileged butt a bit of a reality check. It’s one thing to do my volunteering online, and quite another to walk down slum alleys to reach a tiny room filled with young enthusiastic women hungry to learn from you.

Pradeep and Lalit run their modest, for-profit outfits, Delhi by Locals and FilmArt respectively. They come from less than privileged backgrounds. But they find time to identify challenges in neighborhoods such as Sanjay Colony, near Okhla-II. And actually think of solutions to make it happen, and then raise money to execute. Both these youngsters are the alumni of Manzil and are trying to carve out their own income streams, while ensuring they are able to help the communities they have access to.

Makes me think. What makes someone with limited means actually create initiatives that enable others: girls to step out of their rigid familial and societal structures and get job ready, or create safe spaces for the youth in slums to hang out gainfully (reading, playing carroms or chess, or engage in discussions), or run surveys to really understand the challenges faced by the youth living in slums?

What makes Pradeep and Lalit and people in their network, not worry a whole lot about how much money they are making, but give of themselves to others, just so they have a better chance at life? I just assume they are built a different way. The media is filled with stories of the great resignation or the great return or Insta reels are about workcations and how Mondays suck and so on… Thankfully, there are these youngsters who are showing me real stuff.

Myth: They don’t work hard, they don’t ‘get’ consistency.
I just got to know that a podcast I follow run by two millennial girls is coming to a close. They have done over 110 episodes over the last 2-2.5 years. I have no idea if they have a lot of listeners or they earn money out of it. But I suppose they don’t do it to make money. They do it for expression and creativity. How many people do I know who can keep doing this month on month for over 2.5 years? Hell, even I can’t write a blog here that frequently.

They just showed to me that one can keep this going, for the sheer fun of it, for the million ways their creativity has grown and taken various shapes over this time. And even now, it’s not really coming to a close, it’s just going to take a whole different form.

If someone tells you, millennials are lazy, they don’t show up, they don’t do the work, they are not consistent, point them here. I refuse to believe they are outliers.

Myth: They don’t care what happens to the workplace; they just up and go
I am sure every manager out there has a story that goes that way: their subordinate left without notice, or if they did serve the notice, they didn’t put in the effort, the lack of interest was so obvious.

I am guilty of believing this myth too. Until a GenZ came in and taught me differently. She came and quickly figured out that she wanted to explore something else, and decided to quit. She was in her probation period, and as per our policy, she just needed to give us a week’s notice. She told me that she would stay for as long as it took me to find a replacement and smoothen out things. So instead of a week, she gave me 5 weeks. That was more than enough time for us to get things in order. Why did she do it? She had borne the brunt of such exits, and was compassionate enough to not put us through the same.

Makes you think, eh?

We love stereotyping, don’t we?

For every stereotype I build or believe in, I stop a person (or two or many?) somewhere from expressing what they really want to express. The more the labelling, the closer the walls get, the harder it is to breathe.

And that’s what this generation (or the ones that came before it, or the ones what will come after) needs: be able to breathe freely.

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