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Born between 1980 and 2000? Congratulations: You’re doomed.

You’re also pretentious, entitled and consumerist. Self-aware and oblivious. Well-educated and unemployed.

You’re passionate about causes, but your activism isn’t active enough. You’re countercultural and you mindlessly follow trends. You’re a hipster. You hate hipsters. You hate irony, but you do it ironically. You have no future.

Has the identity crisis hit yet?

Generation Y — the Millennial/Hipster/Meme/Occupy Generation — is constantly being fed hand-wringing rhetoric about the drastically different world it’s facing compared to its predecessors. Labeled and re-labeled, a new epiphany with each new article, we’re applauded and condemned all at once with contradictory terms.

In yet another analytical attempt, The New York Times recently asked, “Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World?” Note that unsubtle separation between young adult existence and “reality.”

The pessimism is logical, considering “the average net worth of someone 29 to 37 has fallen 21 percent since 1983.” We’ve all heard the scary but no less true statistics. It’s tough out there.

We Millennials are coming of age in a culture where it seems the only way to understand us — barring those aforementioned statistics — is with pithy topical references.

Bieber, beards, “Breaking Bad,” broke — that’s us.

Want the key? Watch “Spring Breakers,” says one film critic. Or “Girls.” Or maybe check out Urban Outfitters or the Cheezburger Network. There are plenty of places you can look, especially if you’re looking for one facet in particular: our vapidity, or our neuroses, our absurdities.

We are admittedly many of the things on the ever-lengthening list of identities foisted on us. We are selfish, apathetic and naïve. We’re also intelligent, passionate and desperately searching for meaning.

The economy scares us just as much as it scares the New York Times. Heck, we frequently scare each other just as much as we scare the New York Times.

We know the solution isn’t to coddle us, but it isn’t to prophesy our failure either.

Youth has always been a source of anxiety, whether in the era of Grumpy Cat or “Rebel Without a Cause.”

Here we are in 2013, and you’re still tearing us apart, this time with financial doomsday predictions and career advice favoring safety over passion.

According to the rhetoric, our only chance is a job in medicine, business, or technology, with Forbes’ 2012 list of The 15 Most Valuable Majors almost exclusively math or science programs. Moreover, BAFTA reports youth are “being discouraged from pursuing a career in film, television or games.”

The message: Choose the “wrong” path and become a punchline for barista career jokes — a poor punchline.

The reality: a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If we keep hearing Generation Y and the “real” world are incompatible, we’ll stave off entering “reality.” If there are no expectations for us, we might stop having any for ourselves.

And if we’re told often enough that we can’t succeed, we just might start believing it.

The Millennial Generation might not be doomed just yet, but its chances of survival will stay in decline if society keeps performing autopsies before it’s dead.


Reach the columnist at or follow her at @EMDrown

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