The Millennial Search for Identity

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“The fact of being who a person is”

When researching the topic of identity, I came upon this disappointing definition. I was hoping for something a little more specific, but soon realized that the concept of identity is not an easy one to explain as it can mean something different for everyone. “Who am I?” is a question humans have been asking themselves for centuries, and is one that can have many answers.

I remember going to a new school in the 4th grade. I was a shy kid, but eager to make new friends. Back then, the only social networking site available was the playground, where content of character was measured by how hard you went in the dirt. If you wanted to talk to or hang out with a friend outside of school, you memorized their phone number and walked to their house. If you were bored, you explored the neighborhood. It was a peaceful, private existence.

Fast forward 15 years. Everyone has smart phones, and Facebook rules the social media world. People have multiple online profiles where they can share life events, upload pictures, and connect with friends and strangers all over the world. There are endless ways to interact and communicate, whether through texting, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, Voxer, or even online social games. Anyone that didn’t have a voice before now has a chance to be heard.

Though we are fortunate to have much more convenient means of communicating and reaching each other, it does not come without a price. Privacy is such an issue, that even with the availability of “privacy settings”, nothing you post online will ever truly be private. Plus, everyone (well at least everyone on your friends list) can see you, your pictures, what you’re doing, what you like, and nearly everything about you. As you are propelled into the spotlight, you might lose sight of yourself and who you really are. Are you the person you portray yourself to be online? Do you even know who you really are, offline, in person?

In an article published by Deseret News, Rachel Lowry explores this struggle and how it has particularly been affecting Generation Y.

“1 out of 4 Millennials say they can only be their true self when alone.”

Whether you are going to work, school, or just hanging out with friends, you put on a different face. The person you are at work, especially if you work in a very professional environment, can be much different than the person you are when you are with close friends or family. In addition to that, you may also have a separate online identity that doesn’t fully correspond to your other identities. With Facebook, for example, you can tell people what you want them to know, withhold what you don’t want them to know, and show them what you want them to see.

 “Only half of Millennials surveyed believed themselves to be authentic and real.”

Although some people may remain authentic and true to themselves, it is easy to get caught up with “likes” and building up a flattering image. No one wants to appear boring or uninteresting. As a result, it’s becoming more and more difficult to know who is telling the truth, and if people really are who they say they are. I know that I personally have talked to people online and when I met them in person, they didn’t turn out to be who I imagined them to be. Sometimes, they don’t even look how you thought they would look. It all becomes very confusing, so what do we do about it?

If you are a Millennial like me, I understand your hardship. As I described earlier, we never had any of this technology when we were young, and then were suddenly expected to change with the times.  Social networks have become like a drug to us as we constantly search for acceptance and inclusion. The popularity contests of high school have carried over into our adult lives.

“Perhaps we should lift our eyes from our screens more often and live the lives we are purporting.”

This is the best way to go about your journey of self-discovery. Do not just spend time talking about your hopes and dreams, go out and follow them! Instead of spending all of your time taking pictures and uploading them to Instagram and Facebook, experience what you are seeing and doing and embrace the feelings it gives you. It’s great to have memories, but work on accumulating memories that no one can see or feel but you. Memories that you can dig up from your mind and feel all over again because you were fully aware and present during those moments. Get out of your comfort zone and do something you have never done before. Open your mind to new possibilities. Then, after you’ve got that out of your system, feel free to share your experiences and newly acquired knowledge with friends.

Identity isn’t about trying to be who you wish you could be, but how you go about being the person that you are. Every action you take and every decision you make reflects on your character and your personality. In order to be satisfied with your identity, it is important to always stay true to your values and do what you think is right. Maintaining the right balance is not uncomplicated, but at those moments you do find it, hold on as long as you can. Never be afraid to be yourself and to take the less trodden path, you might never know what new things you might discover about yourself. As they say, life is what you make it.

What Up, Soup?! The Hottest New Millennial Craze

What is a Millennial?

Some might say Millennials are driven, creative, tech-savvy, inventive, and ambitious go-getters. Others might say they are lazy, narcissistic over-consumers who have a strange obsession with taking pictures of their own reflection in the mirror. Whichever definition you agree with (or perhaps you agree with both), I think there is one thing that we can all agree on- that Millennials love soup.

Recently my dad showed me this video from The Colbert Report in which Stephen Colbert discusses the hottest new Millennial trend. No, it’s not Gangnam Style, it’s Campbell’s “Go” Soup!

Hilarity ensues:

My dad thought it was so amusing he even bought me a bag. I still haven’t tried it yet, but I will once I’m done building a few soup-inspired playlists on Spotify that I can listen to while enjoying my soup. Then I’ll be ready.

A Millennial Mindset: Expand or Get Left Behind

Jenn Ballard, Marketing Specialist at MeritShare

Jenn Ballard, Marketing Specialist at MeritShare

This is the first post by Jenn Ballard who is a marketing specialist for MeritShare and helping the team adopt a Millennial mindset.

Now that I am nearly a quarter of a century old, I have accumulated a solid amount of work experience. Looking back at the variety of jobs I’ve held and all of the people I’ve worked with, I’m now noticing the increasing age gap in the workplace and the drama it can lead to.  The recent Forbes article by Jeanne Meister about adopting a Millennial mindset greatly resonated with me.  I was surprised to read that one third of US workers say their boss is younger than they are (according to a recent study by CareerBuilder).

In competitive work environments, where stress runs high as demands increase and employees struggle to make ends meet while desiring recognition for their hard work, it can be difficult to accept that someone younger than you is achieving more success. The injustice of it may even add fuel to the fire.

This is why the Pew Research center created a quiz to illustrate how instead of battling these Millennials, making an effort to adopt a similar mindset could actually relieve some tension as well as improve your performance and the performance of your workplace as a whole. The fact is, by 2020, Millennials will comprise nearly half of the USA workforce and, by 2030, 75% of the global workforce! The Millennials and what they accomplish will help determine our future, so it is important to understand them and work with them. Millennials move faster and think faster, constantly using social technology to connect with others and receive information. The Pew quiz suggests “building” social into your life, such as using social media like Facebook or playing social games instead of watching TV. This just amplifies your options of communication, and opens your connections to diverse groups of people. It is important to be digitally literate and connected to one another, because that is the way we invite others to be open to each other and accept people of all cultures.

Times are different now than they were then and the workforce is constantly increasing in diversity. I will be looking to those with much more experience for advice and I hope they might learn something from me. Everyone has something they can teach others, no matter how old or young they are. The workplace will always be changing and expanding; expand with it so you don’t get left behind.

Millennials At Work: Super Savers [Infographic]

I’m a baby boomer and I’m embarrassed by the debt we have left in the US for future generations to pay off.  Fortunately there is some hope with the new generation of workers who appear to be more fiscally responsible with their personal finances.

A new study out from Merrill Edge shows that Gen Y, defined by the study as those 18-34, is starting to save for retirement earlier than any other generation. This high savings rate reinforces data shared in the following infographic by Scarborough Research showing that 59% of Millennials are savers as opposed to spenders.

To me, the message is clear, if you want to attract Millennials you better make sure you have a good 401k program.

Make Work Better: Hire Millennials [Infographic]

As the baby boomers to hit retirement age, they will be replaced by “Generation Y” or “Millennials,” who number almost 80 million.  This talented and diverse group of employees  want to learn and grow with their company.  Millennials are motivated by having a sense of accomplishment.   As this infographic shows, 80% of Millennials prefer on the on the spot recognition and real-time feedback.  You can now go online and instantly thank a co-worker with the new way to give kudos.  Millennials are tech-savvy social media enthusiasts.  You don’t have to friend them on Facebook or follow on Twitter, but at the minimum, connect with them on Linkedin and build out your own professional network of fresh talent.

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 Infographic by UNC

Related Post and Infographic: Millennials are super-savers