As I came home from work Friday night, my wife was watching Bruce Jenner’s interview with Dianne Sawyer around his transformation.
At first, I was put off by spending my Friday night watching the interview and made a snarky comment on my Facebook about the days of family viewing drastically being different today than when I was my daughter’s age (6).
Then, as I sat and actually heard Jenner speak about his struggles, it actually hit home with me.
Most Millennials, myself included, struggle with being socially accepted.
Because social media is similar to a high school yearbook.
Being accepted by your peers is a constant reality everywhere we turn, from the # of followers we have on Twitter, to “Likes” on Facebook and Instagram. But it goes beyond just social media.
It’s society too.
Being a Millennial can be tough work.
Fitting in to a company’s culture can be a slippery slope that many of us wrestle with constantly.
Did I say the right/wrong thing?
How do co-workers perceive me?
Does my boss like me?
If there are job cuts, will I be let go first?
Call it insecurity, or even a lack of confidence, but these are all questions that create an internal war around social acceptance for most Millennials.
While we’re the first generation to have grown up using the internet, finding the balance between the world around us – “real life” – and the one that we live daily through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is a challenge that not even our parents could prepare us for.
Pursue Your Passion
For many of us growing up, our parents told us what they wanted us to be as adults. So many went off to school and pursued a degree in a field that they weren’t passionate about only to end up doing something completely different upon graduation. Throughout the years I’ve met and spoken to countless professionals who genuinely dislike what they do, hate their boss and wish they could have an opportunity to work at a job they love. One of the worst feelings is being in a job that you dislike and having to endure the agony of going there every day to simply put in your time. For most, the passion and desire to make a career move is there, but many lack confidence to take that next step. Ask yourself this key question: “Where do I want to be in the next 1, 5, and 10 years and how am I going to get there?”
Be YOU And Not Who Others Want You to Be
A common issue that Millennials face is being socially accepted in the workplace. That feeling of anxiety anytime we’re around a VP or C-level executive, the fear you succumb to anytime your boss randomly calls you into his or her office, not being invited to lunch or social gatherings by your co-workers… It all goes back to fighting who society wants us to be vs. who we are internally. For older Millennials, such as myself who have a decade (or more) of professional working experience, we’ve learned how-to balance the challenges of being young(er) in the workplace vs. the potential value that we bring to an employer i.e. willing to take risks, seeking opportunities to collaborate with others, and putting long-term opportunity before money. However, many younger Millennials entering the workforce for the first time are still trying to find their place as they struggle with finding social acceptance in the workplace amongst Generation X counterparts, while facing real issues outside of work such as: student loan debt, low paying wages for entry level college graduates, and inflated costs in rent. One of the best pieces of advice one of my mentors ever gave me was: “Just be yourself and make those around you fall in love with the person that you are. They are no different or better than YOU.”
In closing, after watching Bruce Jenner’s interview it became clear to me that the message I took from it is this – just be yourself.
Don’t “fake it until you make it” – the real you will always come out in the end.
Be who you are destined to become and not who others want you to be.
In the end, you own your success.