Don’t Call Me a Millennial Because #ILiterallyCant

Before I outgrew my carseat I was already living in a time that did not belong to me.

By age five, I could sing the chorus line of the Four Tops’ “Sugar Pie Honey Bunch (I Can’t Help Myself)” because this was the song that Dad would strategically leave playing in the black T-top 442 we cruised around in back then while he pumped gas so that I wouldn’t cry; to his surprise, he reentered the car to find my toddler legs bouncing in time to the classic Funk Brothers rhythm and Motown sound, unfazed by our brief separation.

I’ll save you the stress of figuring out what year I was born: 1994. Just don’t call me a millennial.

Fast forward six years and I’ve already given three book reports on the Temptations — one of Motown/Tamla Records’ most famous male acts — in elementary school alone. It wasn’t until the fourth grade when I realized that my classmates did not share the same fascination for music and culture born out of Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s as me.

Now as a college student finishing her undergraduate degree this spring, I’ve encountered my fair share of quizzical looks and comments from both peers and faculty, even those born in the generation that I so greatly admire, when I expel generational references more than 50 years my senior.

Are you like, obsessed with Motown? That’s an interesting fact for you to know at your age. I have never heard of Hitsville USA. So is that music all that you listen to?

I’ve learned to accept these inquiries and offerings with a gracious smile and amusement. But all musical passions aside, one thing that I find to have little tolerance for is being mistaken for a true-blue millennial, hastily dragged — kicking and screaming — into the generational label of those born between 1982-2004 by professors, seasoned coworkers, even industry professionals who mean well.

I’ll save you the stress of figuring out what year I was born: 1994. Just don’t call me a millennial.

It’s time to begin exerting effort in acknowledging the integrity, character and personal values of one another, not the generational tags created by the generation before us and magnified by those who live up to them.

I was raised to work for what I need or “would like” (Mom never let us say “I want”); the only instance in which my siblings and I were allowed to be insistent was in achieving our goals, not in the immediacy of getting what we wanted. Technology is a valuable resource, but it does not consume my life; interpersonal skills and the ability to hold a genuine conversation is 10 times more attractive and valuable than being able to text at 90 WPM. And don’t even get me started with the word “entitled.”

Far too often we spend time and energy labelling and placing people into boxes, rather than celebrating individuality. It’s time to begin exerting effort in acknowledging the integrity, character and personal values of one another, not the generational tags created by the generation before us and magnified by those who live up to them. After all, as a generation, we are defined by the cultural and societal movements that happen during our lifetime last time I checked.

But it’s 2015. We’re all “entitled” to our own opinions, aren’t we?

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