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You’re Damn Right: I’m Part of the ‘ME ME ME’ Generation

Guest Post by Danny Rubin

Millennials: Me Me Me Generation?Everywhere I look, Millennials are under attack. A recent front cover of ‘TIME’ magazine declared Millennials the ‘ME ME ME’ generation. The writer, Joel Stein (a Gen Xer), notes that the Millennial rate of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times higher than the generation 65 or older.

Then I stumbled across a column by career advice expert (and also a Gen Xer) Penelope Trunk entitled ‘5 Things You Don’t Know About Gen Y.’ Trunk upbraids Millennials and says they are ‘consumed with their image.’

OK, that’s about enough.

I will not refute Stein or Trunk. I am part of the ‘ME ME ME’ generation and quite concerned with my (professional) image. Our twenties are the ideal time to take a ‘ME ME ME’ approach, and I am not talking about snapping ‘selfies’ on Instagram, as Stein claims we do every single day.

I am 29-years-old and rapidly approaching the big 3-0. As I look back on the past decade, I realize those years have ‘ME ME ME’ written all over them. Like anyone else in their twenties who is new to the work world, I am on a journey to find who I am, what I am passionate about and the tools I need to compete.

I am constantly asking: ‘What are the best skills for ME to learn? Who can I seek out to teach ME something new? Does this job fit ME?’

ME. ME. ME.

It’s not selfish; it’s smart. If Millennials are going to take the reins and one day lead this country, then we need to look inward and use our twenties to understand our core identity. These early years are essential for on-the-job training that will matter 10, 20 and 40 years from now.

Since college, I have held two different full-time jobs — as a TV reporter and then TV news consultant — and dabbled on the side with all kinds of communications projects. I learned digital advertising during the 2010 midterm elections, hauled equipment as a cameraman for a sports TV show and edited a Millennial news Web site. If a challenge arose and I had the time, I went for it.

With each gig, I honed my interests and inched closer to the role I am meant to play. Even if I didn’t love a particular job, I gained new skills and uncovered what is best for ME. At 29, I don’t have it all figured out, but I feel like I am finally putting the disparate pieces together. I am about to start a new job with long-term potential as a public relations professional and am also one year into the creation of a news blog that I believe in deeply.

Without ‘ME ME ME,’ I would never have arrived at either conclusion. It took dedication and persistence, and I expect to build on that progress in my thirties. Millennials: take Stein’s rebuke and turn it on its head. It’s OK — no, it’s essential — to have a ‘me-first’ view in your twenties.

If you want to Instagram your face and stare at it all day, then you’re playing into the expectations society has for our generation.

Instead, use these free-form years to let your personality and career take shape. Take chances, work odd schedules and get your hands dirty. Be selfish in a productive, meaningful way. It’s not ‘What’s in it for ME? It’s ‘What can the world teach ME to define who I am and prepare ME for adulthood?’

ME. ME. ME.

Then, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers won’t bemoan our ‘narcissistic’ twenties.

They will thank us for them.

Guest Author

Danny RubinDanny Rubin is the managing editor of News To Live By, a blog for Millennials that highlights the career advice and leadership lessons “hidden” in the day’s top stories. Don’t just read the news — use it to gain an edge on the job. You can follow the blog at @NewsToLiveBy. – See more at: Damn Right I’m Part of the “Me Me Me” Generation.

Guest Author

Guest Author

From time to time, guest writers contribute to Thin Difference. Topics include leadership, career development, creativity, and mindfulness. Our mission is to "Cross the gap and lead with a new story line," inspiring Millennial leaders.

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  • Marquita Herald

    Wow, I feel for your frustration Danny – but honestly, I got nothing as far as snappy repartee – and here’s why. For better or worse, every generation since the beginning of time has been tagged with a label. Honestly, I have no clue who makes these generalizations up – but I’ll bet many would be shocked to find how few people actually fit into the mold. Personally, I’ve spent my life rebelling against “labels” so I choose not to waste energy reading, let along worrying about articles such as the one that you referenced. The truth is, people who buy into that stuff are looking for the easy way out of life – sticking people into neat little categories means they don’t have to think or waste time actually making informed decisions.

    • Danny Rubin

      Thanks for the comment, Marquita. With my column, I want to give young people a positive way to spin a negative story. The media can label Millennials any way it wants, but every 20-something controls his/her own destiny. Believe me, the media would also be just as content to write a story about a Millennial who defied the odds and ‘made it.’ I say we give it to ‘em.

  • http://twitter.com/gingerconsult Jen Olney

    Every generations has had their “ME” moment. I think what separates out this current generation is that are many who do not subscribe to your work ethic. Far too many are spending their time looking for entitlements and not creating their own path.

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Thanks, Jen, for your comments. I agree every generation has had their “Me” moments as it is a way to discover and, ultimately, grow. I haven’t seen the entitlement trait from Millennials in the workplace. They are earnest in their work, as well as confident. Although there are always exceptions, this is true for each past generation. A sense of entitlement is found any many generations, I believe.

      Great discussion and thanks for your insights! Jon

  • http://www.hitenvyas.com/blog Hiten Vyas

    Hi Danny,

    I really enjoyed your guest article. Jon, thanks for having Danny over!

    Danny, I had to smile to myself as I was reading your post. I’m going to be 34 at the end of the week and your post reminded me of my twenties. I was the same. There was a lot of me, me, me going on!

    However, it was this self-obsession that has allowed me to become so much more ‘other people’ oriented in my thirties. I definitely needed to experience what I did in my twenties to become the me of today, which hopefully is a lot more mature!

    Thank you.

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Thanks, Hiten, for your comments. I do believe Danny hit it right…. in our early years, we are focused on “me” in trying to figure out our purpose and direction. It is about self-discovery. Appreciate it! Jon

    • Danny Rubin

      Thanks, Hiten! Our 20s are such a pivotal time to look inward. No slick headline on the cover of ‘Time’ will convince me otherwise.

  • Dan Oestreich

    Danny and Jon, thanks for stimulating and hosting a great discussion. To me, the tendency to criticize Millennials is a way for some to protect themselves. Suppose we reversed the trend and wrote articles crediting this group for being especially hard working, well-educated, balanced, positive, dedicated, and innovative (which it is). Might that create a bit of a threat? Why, yes it would. SO MUCH EASIER to run the group down in order to protect one’s own threatened accomplishments, position and stature. That threat, by the way, might be very understandable — but accusing on a group basis is an essentially defensive move, sometimes akin to a process of initiation. To me the labels are not useful, false distinctions situationally driven by the recession and other factors. Can we just talk to each other about our conditioning and experiences, and support one another in whatever we need, wherever we are on life’s path? Can we learn from one another and honor one another in an open-hearted way? Can we be a community?

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      So spot on, Dan! Well said completely. It is about creating a community of sharing, learning, and growing together. Generations depend on it. Thank so much for adding this to the conversation! Jon

  • http://blog.eaglespace.com/ AjmaniK

    We have had several discussion about self-care in a twitter chat that I host. One thing that has emerged clearly from these chats is that self-care is not selfish.

    So, let’s think of ME as – My Energy. My Enthusiasm. My Excitement. My Empowerment. My Enrichment.

    Because there is no YOU without ME. And when YOU and ME work together, we create a better world.

    Go ahead. Be the best ME, Mr Danny Rubin. The world is waiting ~ Namaste :)

    Kumud

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      These are essential points, Kumud, and #SpiritChat delivers on this in more ways than any other conversation in social media. Self care is important to become a better person, better leader, better______________. Thank you for adding to this conversation that Danny started here! Jon

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  • prophetic warning

    millenials are not built for survival – too dependent on technology…