What Can Older Generations learn from Millennials

by Jessica Guereca

When you think of a millennial, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Would it be a teen on their phone? Or someone who’s lazy? Or something like this?

Abby Cross takes a "selfie"--a Millennial phenomenon.
Abby Cross takes a “selfie”–a Millennial phenomenon.

When we think of millennials, we usually have an image of someone who looks selfish and self absorbed, etc. We think of the stereotypical millennial who only thinks of themselves. The truth is that that kind of millennial doesn’t exist. Millennials are just young bright kids who are just as hardworking as every other generations. There have even been studies that say that millennials are called the smartest generation yet. But of course other studies would argue that point. The point still hands though, millennials aren’t always what they seem. We have some of the highest enrollment for college, and we’ve even passed Baby Boomers for being the largest generation.

We millennials are always being told that we should be learning from older generations, whether it’s how to find a spouse, how to get more sleep, etc. We’re told to following their example, and are basically being told that we should be molding ourselves from the generations before us. But we hardly hear about what older generations can learn from Millennials.

Other than the obvious things like knowing how to logout of a Facebook account, we don’t talk about what millennials teach other generations. “Tolerance and acceptance, I’ve learned from the younger generations. I love the way they are tolerant of others and they are respectful of others. I think that some of the older people can learn from that,” says Lynel Frank, a counselor here at the high school. One thing our generation has always been know for, is being more understanding to things the generations before us weren’t. Whether it’s us being more accepting about race, or genders and sexualities, we’ve always been more open minded. We’re willing to accept people for being people rather than define them by one aspect of their lives.

Lyn Frank teaches her employment skills course.
Lynel Frank teaches her employment skills course.

“I think just student in general taught me that there isn’t just one way of doing something.” says Chris Kelly, our Business and Finance Teacher. Another aspect that millennials have also been recognized for is being able to think outside of the box. While someone from an older generation might only see one way of doing things and get frustrated from the results, we millennials can visualize many different ways to go about figuring out a problem, and finding solutions. While someone may be trying to see how to think outside the box, a millennial may be thinking of how to use the box to our advantage.

We millennials have many tools at our disposal, and while older generations see cell phones and other electronics as distractions, we understand that electronics are only a tool to help us move along. Douglas Adams once said, “Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” People tend to react to new things as strange, and not right. Older generations can learn from millennials that new things don’t have to be scary, they can be fun and help us in our daily lives. Instead of grouping all electronics together as “distractions,” why not try giving it a chance?

“Sometimes they teach me to kick back and relax a little bit instead of, ‘Oh my gosh I gotta get that done’. Sometimes you just gotta sit back and relax is something they’ve taught me,” Coach Schumaker said. Now, while I believe that millennials are hardworking and can achieve amazing things, we also know how to just kick back and enjoy life. We like to relax and not worry about the stresses of life, which is something I think older generations forget to do sometimes. Instead of worrying so much about everything, take a day off! Cool down, spend a day just sitting at home doing nothing if you have too. Everyone should have some way to relax, and older generations can definitely learn that from millennials.

One thing that millennials have always wanted older generations to understand is that change happens. Things aren’t always gonna be exactly how it was ‘back in your day’, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We want older generations to understand that just because we may do things differently than what you did, it doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing. We’re trying to figure things out too, so we just want older people to let us learn things! We understand that as parents and grandparents, you just want to make sure we’re doing the right things, but let us figure it out just like you did. We might get hurt in the process but we just want to teach older generations that we can get through it. “Be understanding. And realize that not everything is gonna be the same as it is for you,” says senior Victor Ferri.

One of the questions I asked when doing my interviews for this piece was, “Do you think millennials should be learning from older generations or older generations from Millennials?” Out of everyone I asked, all of them said the same thing. Learning between our generations can be, and should be, a mutual thing. Older generations have experience and wisdom that comes with age, that we millennials don’t have. But we millennials have different viewpoints and ways to teach and learn and accept that older generations may not have seen or be used to. We should be learning from each other, understanding and accepting that we all do things differently. Millennials aren’t lazy, they’re hardworking and wise and seek knowledge. And older generations can give us some of that knowledge, but they can also learn a thing or two from millennials as well.

Paula Etl teaches students who "taught me to have fun and have hope."
Paula Etl teaches students who “taught me to have fun and have hope.”