Until another generation comes along to strip us of our stereotype, and chip away at the defamatory insults, we are stuck with a label that everybody callously mocks. The Millennial. I always wonder what people think when they meet me, I wonder if they think I’m a typical embodiment of my stereotype, or whether I’ve subverted the image entirely. I hope it’s the latter, although no one’s ever indulged me with the answer.
How do we sell ourselves to employers, contacts or each other? How do we convince one another that we are not over entitled, over-complaining brats? We all judge, no matter how hard we try not to. Try walking down the street and not judging someone’s animal print leggings or slime green hair, or how they’ve done their eyebrows. It’s a tricky one, and I’m guilty of doing every one of these things.
We’ve heard it all before. Magnify your talents, and minimize the flaws. Personally, I believe in not disregarding your flaws entirely, because they are what make you you, they are what make you think the way you do, talk the way you do, and act the way that you do. Without flaws, we would be identical. Without flaws, we wouldn’t know how to accentuate our assets and work on the rest; we wouldn’t know acceptance.
Instead of concentrating on erasing any and all negative sides to yourself and your history, work on how to address them and accept them. The way I like to approach my past these days is with the mentality of “be classy and in charge;” I have full ownership of myself and my past, and I don’t need to disclose any of it to anybody, but when I do, I take careful consideration of my own reputation and others’. I take care to signal to my experiences without overindulgence, and I spin it back towards my strengths and the journey that I’ve taken.
It boils down to selling skills. How can we sell ourselves when there are so many of us? We’re all climbing all over the chance to succeed, smothering ourselves with opportunities and unrealistic standards. Think about a time where you’ve ever sold anything.
Personally, I’ve sold a lot of beers in my life, but somehow “It’s a light amber ale, a fragrant and fruity bestseller” doesn’t sound like a winner to me. How exactly can we sell our personalities and our strengths in a world where we’ve struggled to come by mediocrity, let alone success?
We desperately need to prove that we are not defined by statistics or constricted by the frivolity of labels, yet we seem to have trouble doing so.
How We Dress
Our universal dress code consists of sweat pants and old university hoodies, accessorized with a Starbucks cup and whatever food we can afford that week. Generally, we dress for comfort. Take today for example, I have spent the entire day in a Christmas onesie and fluffy socks. I’m basically a six year old.
It goes without saying that we dress properly whenever we have a job interview or networking event, but we slip up on a day-to-day basis. Some of us dress ourselves while commanded by trends, which ultimately backfires when we see our little sisters wearing the same thing and looking ten times better than us.
We’re not assisting our transition into adulthood by not dressing the part. Have fun with your clothes, but instead of looking cute/hot/insert chosen adjective here, just try to look nice. Keep it simple, and don’t dismiss the fundamental rules of dressing for your shape and age. That said, if you want to market yourself any other way, then you do you and never be ashamed of it.
How We Act
Everyone you meet is a potential contact, friend or mentor. Unless you work in hospitality, where everyone you meet is either too drunk or hungry to function. I know that one of my main flaws is swearing, I’m far too comfortable throwing out a curse word or six.
On the flip side, sometimes I speak far too properly, often to a point where people assume I’m stuck up. I need to find the balance of the two, as many of us need to find a balance of youth and maturity.
How We Tweet
How we conduct ourselves on social media plays a fundamental part in our overall presentation. Employers will check up on any and all social media accounts, and everyone else will undoubtedly judge you for what you say and do online. Basically, anything can and will be used against you.
Many will take the first chance at being able to smear your reputation, if only in their own minds and opinions. Think about how many people stumble upon your profile and choose not to follow you? I think I’ve made my point. You will never be everyone’s cup of tea, but you can avoid being someone’s worst nightmare.
The pressure we put on ourselves to seem vaguely interesting or comical is astronomical, yet we still make the rookie mistakes of social media when emotionally charged. This is the face you choose to show the world, even when you’re at home with yesterday’s makeup and old pyjamas. We all need to tread a little lighter and avoid the inerasable pitfalls of social media. We can always hit delete, but often times, the damage is already done.
You need to believe in the image that you create for yourself, you can manipulate and shape it into whatever you please. But don’t lose yourself in the process of creating a sellable product. At the end of the day, we are human beings and we all have stories to tell and a gift to give. We need to be sure to market millennials by using the stereotypes to our advantage.
While we can use dressing well, speaking well and acting appropriately to create a positive image, we can also throw the old stereotype to the wolves. Use the stereotype to your advantage, don’t abandon it. You need to have a firm grip on your self image, and refuse to let others condemn you for who you are. Take all of the best parts of yourself, and make the world praise them. Demand something better by changing your situation, and command respect by respecting yourself.