I’m in my fifties and every time I hear Millennials being bashed by people my age and even younger (Gen-X), I want to yell at them. I don’t, because at my age I’ve mellowed out and my daily yoga practice keeps my temper in check. But really, why does every generation have to insult those that come after them? At 54 I can tell you I have way more in common with Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000, depending on what source you check) than with my peers.
The article The Characteristics of Generation Y says,: “Millennials are individualistic, innovative, creative, celebrators of diversity, multi-taskers, and write their own rules.” And guess what, that is most definitely me! Although there were not cell-phones or Internet in my youth and faxes were just starting to be a thing, I avoided working in an office setting by using couriers to deliver scripts I adapted and translated for a sound production company in the early eighties. I was in my twenties, one of the last Boomers, living like a Millennial.
As to this statement, from the same article, “Millennials also strive balance in their work and personal lives and are unwilling to commit to jobs requiring long hours, evening, or weekend work,” let me tell you I was a disgrace to my family because of exactly that. Well, minus the evening or weekend work, perhaps (I love working on weekends and taking weekdays off). But that was because I was also unable and unwilling to hold a job, period.
I always thrived working for myself, from home, dictating my own workload and hours. Is that so bad? I truly hope that my kids keep in mind that I’ve always been and am home (unless I’m traveling) when they get home from school. Being able to make it as a freelancer for life gives you skills, resilience and hustle that is hard to come by at a regular job. Almost 40 years after I joined the self-employed workforce, I’m still at it and going strong. Was I a pioneer? I was simply so averse to committing to a schedule and wasting away my at an office for a fixed paycheck that I figured out a way to strike out on my own from a young age and enjoy the perks of limitless possibility on a daily basis.
In a LinkedIn Talent Blog article written by Lydia Abbot, a Millennial, she lists 8 traits of Millennials you should know before you hire them. According to her they are multitaskers, connected, tech-savvy, want instant gratification and recognition, desire work-life balance and flexibility, collaboration, transparency, and career advancement. She lists the pros and cons of each one of those and as a Boomer that has all of those traits and then some, after a lifetime of making them work for me, I can tell you there is nothing inherently wrong with any of that. But of course people love to hate what they don’t understand, and boy did I fight my way through criticism and misunderstanding my entire life, just so that I could live the life I wanted. But guess, what, I did, and I do!
I’ve made a living with words always: translating them, adapting them, editing them, writing them and speaking them. From translating sitcoms in my 20s I went on to writing and publishing my own books, and having my byline in magazines, all from the comfort of my own home. I married later in life and had my kids at 38 and 40.
At 45, during the Great Recession in the U.S. I lost my source of income, marriage, money, savings, and had to resort to welfare to feed my kids. But thanks to all of those traits that I share with Millennials, I was able to bounce back by taking my writing online and building my personal brand on the Internet. When, at 48, I was hired over lunch and a handshake to be Editor-in-Chief of a website for Latina moms, my main condition was: “I will do it only if I make my own hours and work from home. As long as I get my work done, which I will, you don’t get to call me at 9 a.m. to make sure I’m working.” I got the gig.
At 50 I was again restless and pined for even more freedom so I launched the website you are reading this post on. Viva Fifty Media feeds our family of five free-thinkers, who see both their parents (I also remarried at 50) work from home and live off of their passions. My teens give me pointers on how to improve my budding YouTube channel and interact with my followers. Most importantly, I listen to them.
I know what it’s like to be called lazy because you don’t want to work at an office, or a loser because you don’t care about a promotion at a corporation and would rather make less money doing something that fills your soul. As to life-work balance, I don’t know that anyone who loves what they do has that, we’re willing to work our butts off to achieve our dreams. But looking back, I’m not sorry that I turned a deaf ear on those who raised an eyebrow when I told them I worked for myself. “But, how CAN you? I’d go crazy!” they said. Well, I’d go nuts in an office, how about that.
I tell my kids they don’t HAVE to settle for a life that older people tell them to follow. I tell them they may have to go against what I think is best for them in order to do what fuels their dreams, the same way I went against my father’s wishes and what he thought was right.
At the end of the day, I have what I’ve always wanted: I can work late into the night on my laptop knowing I don’t have to commute the next day to go to an office to put up with some power-hungry boss with an anger-management problem. Instead, I get to drive the kids to school, take a yoga class and only then start my work day at noon. My work, amongst other things, involves taking photos for my Instagram feed, writing blog posts like this one and making videos for YouTube with my freshly dyed pink-hair.
I was born with a Millennial mindset even before that generation was born, and I know first-hand, from decades of experience, that using our traits positively make for a happier and more well-rounded life than adhering to the life and mindset older generations tout as appropriate. So how about we stop bashing them and perhaps pick up a trick or two that will help us live a more fulfilling life?
Don’t miss out on reading REACH! From single mom on welfare to digital entrepreneur.