No matter where we go, we tend to hear the same words over and over again to describe the millennial generation.
Creative. Distracted. Digital. Entitled. Ambitious. Lazy.
And honestly, I'm a little tired of it. I'm tired of it because I don't think that it reaches the core of who millennials truly are.
Because in order to understand who millennials are today, we have to look at who they were as children. How they acted as teenagers. What they struggled with in college.
Let's also not forget that a lot of millennials are still in high school and college (millennials were technically born between the years of 1982 and 2004). But for the purposes of this article, let's stick to ages 21 to 30.
So, to all of you 21 to 30 year olds. Here's what I have to say to you.
From a very young age - I'll say from age seven or so - we were told to be afraid. Afraid of what would happen to us if we didn't turn in our homework on time. What our parents would say if we didn't get good grades. What other kids will think if we didn't dress a certain way. What our mom would do if we didn't clean our rooms well enough.
And as we got older, the fears became more intense. We were suddenly terrified of what would happen to us on our first day of high school. What the team would think if we didn't make the JV soccer team. What our futures would mean if we didn't get a certain SAT score. Which colleges would accept us, what grades we would get, what friends we would make, what GPA we would graduate with. And most importantly, what would happen if we didn't receive that damn diploma.
And then one day, out of nowhere, a big swinging door flies open and we're confronted with a neon sign so blinding, we can barely look at it. That sign reads 'YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN NOW'.
And this, my friends, is the scariest moment of all.
All of this fear we were trained to have our entire lives was nothing. It was all a test to see if we could survive this.
Although this time, we aren't given a manual. There's no teacher or mom or coach saying "In order to succeed at this, you have to follow these instructions".
Instead, we're supposed to step through those giant swinging doors and jump into an answerless swamp of oblivion. The neon 'YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN' sign is supposed to be enough, but it's not. It scares the living shit out of us.
Instead of excitedly jumping through those doors, we become paralyzed. We can't move. We can't think clearly. Suddenly, everything we knew to be true - the manuals we were given and leaders we were told to follow and the curriculums we purchased - are meaningless. We cannot move forward without knowing what's ahead or if we're truly ready.
Why? Because millennials are trained to be perfect before we do anything. We have to master it and know it will succeed before move forward.
This fear of not being perfect is our biggest struggle as a generation. It's not being entitled or lazy or distracted or self-absorbed. It's a fear of doing something or turning in an end product before it's ready.
Everything else stems from this one attribute.
We shyly apply for jobs we're "under-qualified for", we take jobs we feel safe in, and we spend our less than thrilling salaries on the same things our friends do, like rent and late night taxis and dinners out with friends. We stay close to what we know even if it's not what we really want because doing what we actually want - starting a new career path, traveling the world, moving to a new city - doesn't have a guaranteed end result, and we just can't risk failing. So, we stick to what we know and what we deem as safe, because if we do anything else, there could be consequences.
If you're a millennial reading this, I have something to tell you: Perfection is out. Execution is in.
When I say the word "execution", I mean the opposite of fear. I mean going forward even when you don't know what the end result will be. Walking into a job interview with blind confidence. Asking someone on a date who's out of your league. Starting a blog and sharing it with the world. Moving to a new city where you don't know anyone. Telling your boss that you quit and becoming your own.
Essentially, do the thing. Don't think about the thing and stress about the thing and complain about the thing and shy away from the thing. DO THE THING. Because the thing is what will break you out of that fearful mindset and set you on a lifelong path of doing. Accomplishing. Growing. Creating. Discovering. Shining.
Execution - the act of stepping forward and doing something without fear of it not being perfect - is what turns you from being a "typical millennial" to a successful millennial. This is what most people are missing.
Here's the deepest secret of all: Even though we were told our entire lives that things have to be ready or perfect before we do them, it's not true. No one cares if we screw up because everyone is too busy thinking of themselves. And while they're caught up in their own fears, you could be out there executing. So, do it.
Waiting for the right time doesn't make things happen. Going out and doing them does. Go do it.