Wonderful Things About Some Millennials I Know

These days, as always, I hear and read this and that about millennials. And much of it involves them getting a bad rap. Let’s face it, dissing millennials is practically a trend.

Meanwhile I’m a boomer with lots of millennials in my inner circle. And I feel like providing some counterpoint. Toward that end, I’ll list some great qualities that the millennials I know have in common. Of course the truth is that generalizing about a whole generation is a bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall. Some sticks, some doesn’t. But why not counteract some of the negative stuff I’m tired of hearing? It’s the mood I’m in.

So what follows is my own POV. And if you don’t know, that’s screenwriter talk for “point of view.” Because one thing the millennials I know have in common is that they’re crazy about… movies! In fact, the combined knowledge of my three grown sons in the realm of filmmaking—directors, genres, styles, technical and creative nuance, and all manner of related info—is a constant wonder to me.

Most importantly at this moment, I say that awareness of POV is healthy, and smart. It’s about truly getting that we each have a certain perspective, certain biases of our own, rather than making blanket assumptions that others see (or should see) things the way we do.

So as I share my POV on the attributes of some wonderful milliennial-type people I know, consider how yours may be similar to mine or different. And off we go.

Millennials’ bullshit detectors are sensitive instruments.

To put it bluntly, surely you’ve noticed that millennials are quite willing to call bullshit when they detect it. Do you flash on an example as you read that? I do. Many. And I respect that superpower. It contrasts sharply with my memories of myself as a young adult, thoroughly trained from childhood as a people-pleaser.

And of course expressing one’s POV respectfully and/or gently makes a difference in the trenches of everyday life. In light of that tall order for all of us, I say that increasing life experience over the long haul tends to soften the sharp edges that any of us may wield, whether intentionally or not, while we’re living and sharing our perspectives and values.

Meanwhile, some folks probably experience this quality of many millennials as knee-jerk suspicion and premature judgment. But if my own experience is any indication, you may find that in sharing your perspective with millennials in a relaxed way, with curiosity about your differences, you can engage with them in some very satisfying dialogue.

I say take the time, while doing the work of keeping your own mind open. The quality of our relationships is worth that good work on all our parts, perhaps especially right… about… now.

Millennials are values-driven.

Generalizing is tricky, right? Because of course it isn’t true that everybody born between 1981 and 1996 is particularly values-driven. And yet, consider how little of what grounded us older folks as children and young adults is still running the show. Consider the reality of millions of young people coming of age in a brand new millennium.

Yes, in truth, life here in the early 21st century is so vastly different from my young-adult boomer days that it’s hard to comprehend. Maybe, while growing up with so much change, uncertainty, and resulting chaos, millennials have had to make their own meaning in order to make life make sense and feel worth living.

Because with all of us more and more free to be ourselves, free to determine as individuals whatever that is and means for us, I see the millennials I know as utterly willing to discover and act on their own individual values. And in the midst of that necessary work on their part, it sure seems like a brand new kind of 21st century social consciousness is emerging. If so, I say look out, world.

Millennials are environmentally conscious.

Indeed, I see environmental consciousness as a case in point. And even more than just being conscious of environmental issues, millennials are doing their homework, then taking meaningful action. They’re making life choices based on how our habitual ways of living, consuming, and doing business are affecting our precious planet.

What’s more, as their ecological knowledge continues to grow, and they begin getting really clear about what in fact advances or inhibits real progress, I predict they’ll begin dominating the conversation. Even something as straightforward as their buying power can make a real and permanent difference in the world.

And just imagine their voting power. When millennials truly grasp the reality of the power they hold politically, I say it’ll be nothing less than a game changer. As a case in point, with their unprecedented level of engagement in the 2020 election as a teaser for what lies ahead, well, again with feeling, look out, world!

The millennials I know are utterly willing to act on their own individual values.

Millennials are socially conscious.

The millennials I know have zero patience with isms like racism and sexism. They’re also squarely laissez-faire in the realms of lifestyle, gender, and relationship choices.

The bottom line is, don’t waste your time or theirs on petty or even philosophical diatribes around these issues. Or feel free to go for it and get an earful in return. It’s “live and let live” with them in ways that renew my confidence in our future as a global community.

Millennials are effortlessly tech-savvy.

They’re like smart devices themselves, wired to connect without special effort via ever-changing technology. I’ve been aware of something new—their extreme neural plasticity relative to all things technological—since my now 33 year old-son Taylor was five. As I’ve sweated to hold my own with all that, I’ve marveled at their keen capabilities and called on them as expert resources.

And of course one juicy question is what will they do with their technological superpowers? Where are we really headed now, as a species? As a planet? In the ongoing evolutionary process that they will soon lead, I’m banking on my hope that their strong connections to one another will ease the existential alienation that seems baked into our increasingly digital lives.

Millennials have strong friend communities.

Because speaking of superpowers, the millennials I know have the strongest friend communities I’ve ever seen. After all, they came of age as so many cultural, social, and religious rituals were losing their remaining relevance. So, perhaps in an evolutionary demonstration of emotional plasticity, these days millennials are crafting their own satisfying, even ritualized ways of being in community. It’s inspiring to see, and to experience firsthand in special moments.

Millennials demand healthy relationships.

For years I’ve had the sense that these young folks have seen it all. To be clear, I don’t think they think they know it all, but they do know what they don’t want. They want authenticity, yes. But they also want stability. And they Do. Not. Want. Drama. Don’t try it.

Or go for it if you must, given your own conditioning. If you do, my prediction is that millennial-type people like the ones I know will just check you with some countermoves that help them continue to grow, and force you to as well. So maybe it’s in fact all good.

The millennials I know are crafting their own satisfying ways of being in community.

Millennials transition with caution from romance to commitment.

Did you know that the 50% divorce rate we’ve been hearing about so depressingly for the last few decades has been changing lately? That’s because, in contrast to the way we Boomers blew up the stability of marriage and family life, GenX couples are so far staying together in greater numbers.

In contrast, the current “millennial way” is to proceed with caution in the realm of traditional committed relationships. I interpret this as part of their values-driven consciousness. They value stability, authenticity, and individual freedom. It’s a lot to integrate. In the process, they don’t mind waiting.

They also have the capacity to be truly straightforward with one another about what they want and are ready for—or not—in relationships. And I get the sense that, if the inherent messiness of living lands them at relationship endings with children involved, they’ll do things differently. Less Kramer vs. Kramer‘s tortured despair. More It’s Complicated‘s nuanced problem-solving. Another promising sign of our continuing evolution at a critical juncture.

And to end on a delicious note, millennials are foodies.

Just like plenty of folks around all of us these days, millennials are quite serious about food! So if you’re trying to connect with a particular young person or two, you may be able to do so quite enjoyably through your culinary appetites and explorations.

You may learn some things from them, too, in the realm of healthy, conscious deliciousness, with those multiple aspects of our food choices increasingly integrated. And when you think about how fundamental all that is to the sustainable human journey here in the 21st century, well, I see millennials’ best food-centric instincts as more signs of promise.

It’s time to move forward, together.

And of course I hope my POV is helpful. Feel free to let me know while you walk your particular path, living the life you choose, relating enjoyably to the millennials in your circle. After all, it’s as true as ever that 1. the one constant in life is change, and 2. the young ones in our lives really are the future. Let’s move into it in creative conversation and collaboration with them.

Meanwhile, remember, the journey really is the destination, for all of us. Relish yours in all its super-weird, ever-changing glory.


Teresa Young
Teresa Young
TERESA YOUNG is a certified professional coach with a central passion: the human journey. She says the ways we connect with life keep evolving as we do. The point is balanced personal, creative, and professional satisfaction that morphs with us throughout our lives. So flexibility matters. Our willingness to allow ourselves to change matters, especially if we want healthy longevity over the long haul. We deserve nothing less. But it's up to us to accept nothing less, working through seasons of confusion, dissatisfaction, exhaustion, or ill health as needed. Best of all, the payoff always begins right away, because the journey really is the destination. Think about it. "If you're on the path, you're at the goal." — Carl Jung

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  1. Love this Teresa. I enjoy working and talking with millennials. While some are offended when they see young people checking their phones in class or at a presentation, I am not. As I speak, they are fact checking. Once they discover what I am saying is not “bullshit” they become very engaged. I hear millennials aren’t loyal, but what have they seen to make them loyal. For example, NASA to people my age is a good thing – man on the moon; NASA is not a good thing for them as they saw a teacher get blown up. They saw their parents lose jobs through no fault of their own as companies relocated positions overseas. They saw their parents and grandparents lose their homes through no fault of their own during the housing crisis. They saw no viable plan as COVID entered and ran rampant throughout the country. What they witnessed has been people in positions of leadership taking not leading. They are going to wait for things to happen, they are going to make things happen. These millennials give me hope.

    • Exactly, Frank! They give me hope as well. Thanks so much for reading the piece, for your very insightful comments, and for “being the change” in championing this fascinating generation.

  2. Teresa, this provides such great insight, and I love: “Let’s move into it in creative conversation and collaboration with them.” A Baby Boomer myself, I am surrounded with this generation who energizes and inspires me when I carry the right mind set. Full transparency, there are some thought processes I might resist, yet I remain curious always. #lovemymillennials

    • Awww, Carolyn, your #lovemymillennials hashtag says it all. I just got a wave of emotion as I read it. And I appreciate your honesty regarding resisting certain thought processes. Sometimes the frankness with which the young adults in my circle express themselves takes my breath away. I’m learning to quiet my thoughts, reflect on the issue at hand, and then choose my next steps toward continued collaboration, enjoyment and growth for all, including and especially my own. 🙂 It’s a long game, and it’s work, right? But such worthwhile work, like all the most important parts of our lives. Thanks very much for reading and for your soulful comments.