Beginning Pioneers of Generation Z vs Millenials

If you were born in the mid to late 1990’s, you’re probably curious if you’re truly a Millennial, or if you’re a Generation Z. 

Many decided to split that dividing line right down the middle and picked a perfectly round year, but history was never so simple. A psychologist and historian decided to pick 1995 because somehow a year is the defining marker on something as malleable and fallacious as human memory as being “the year you don’t remember 9/11”. Being born after this dividing line, it’s safe to presume that I’m generation Z as 1995–X births, but it feels odd to consider yourself a new generation when you’re close friends with people one year older than you. The last I heard of 1994 before Generation Z started was something about an earthquake, and an A’s game. Hearing that reference of something before you were even born suddenly made you feel as if you were non grata plopped into the world into a new age.

I’ve always thought I was a millennial. One of my favorite colors (I love all colors!) is pink. I love traveling, and I love fine wine and dining, and face-to-face meetings with those I care about and friends, with mentors and professors. While I never experienced or don’t remember 9/11 as a Flash bulb memory, I still empathize and know the significance in the pain in caused in the people I meet. In high school, everyone already had smartphones, and we all had Motorola Razrs in elementary, the year before Apple made its first iPhone. While I seldom used them, I saw DVD players, watched Pokémon and Grandma’s random Kung-Fu movies on VCRS when I was three (I was adopted by my grandparents as my very young millennial parents had me way too early). I definitely knew, that there was something that antediluvian, almost sub-altern that existed before me.

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However, I also grew up in the age where it’s normal to Line or text my husband when he’s in the other room or next to me to open a google doc, and for me, not an engineer to have multiple monitors. No I’m not talking about my smartphone or my tablet. Included, that would probably make 7. Apple watch is the 7th one.

I grew up in the age where it is normal to be texting at 90 miles per hour during a prestigious research university seminar, while debating Shakespeare’s conception of the human psyche and its fallacy and paying attention to Justin Beiber’s arrest and egging his neighbor’s houses.

I grew up in a generation gap between generations that likes reading on Snapchat that is financially literate and even invested in its first IPO and release at $25 with its newly innovative glasses, but fears of posting on it. The gap across Limbo where you stand on this grey bridge that understands both worlds and are force to choose like Harry Potter on King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore, where everything is white yet confusing. I wished I could say that I don’t know what generation I am, when scientists decide to split the generation right down the middle of a year, but I have chosen.

One thing I do know is that we grew up in a age of color. We set the trends before Millenial Pink became popular. It is seen in the little heart on Brandy Melville and the Rose Gold color of your iPhone. I know I’m not the end of the Millenial generation or the last survivors. “Post-millenial”, some call us. “iGen” others say. We are the pioneers of a new generation, a mutant of the past, as we gaze into the future. We grew up when it was normal, to have a Black president, to fight for diversity, and watched Hugh Jackman die as we carried or own mutations in our X’s. It is an age where women are empowered with choice, to be housewives and #girlboss, to be supermoms because we can #haveitall. Where people used to make fun of us for endlessly hashtagging in things but where we are unabashed to be ourselves and hashtag everything.

 "Kindness is the new cool."

We grew up in an age where it was okay to speak out, to be competitive and individualistic and embracing other people’s fears. We were raised by millennials, who loved LV’s and logos, and inherited their frugality as they saw parents or lived themselves through The Great Recession. It was because of their legacy and their mentorship that we were able to not only be successful and grow fast, but to be leaders ourselves.

They say that we don’t have teamwork in work, that we’re born into ADD, that we’re not interested in an education or mentorship, but that is not true. We saw our parents taken advantaged of because of their inability to cut out toxicity or recognize it, we saw how they could have succeeded if they had entrepreneur environment of succeeding on their own. We lived in their bitterness, as my dad once stated, “Socialism feels like someone taking the A you earned and distributing it to an F student so you get a C”, where value was not always based on merit, but satisfaction came from team culture, that even a flawed system of meritocracy was decent as long as it was for the greater good. Although we are ambitious, we only take what we need because we did not grow out of age of a Recession or scarcity. We are confident that even in adversity we will never have to step on others to get our share.

They say we are not loyal to company or brands but that is not true. We are loyal to brands that speak to us. For me, it is Wildfox and Glossier, and Sephora, brands that encompass color and happiness that diversify not in their logos but allow us to shape their culture as well. We want to be heard, as we are the future, that will make your team. We don’t want to just be on any team, but a team of people just as ambitious, just as competitive as us, and we want to be mentored not by a boss but by a leader who has passion in their field. We know at the end of the day, it is love and passion that matters as we preach veganism and are the change that we wish to see. We love handmade things, your Brick and Mortar as we saw the beauty of experiences our millennial parents showed us as not in the corporate worlds and huge megalomaniac brands that we navigate but the small ones, even vintage, with a touch of love. We also see how we ourselves, are our own brands, as we learn as aforementioned teamwork and collaboration, with like-minded and successful individuals that help us grow.

They say we’re not interested in experiences a millenials but that also is not true. We love cool products from cool places that make us remember who we are and the experiences we’ve travelled. I have a memory box of all the antiques I collected in South East Asia when traveling with my husband. He is happy with photos and wants to create new experiences, but sometimes just holding an antique someone made in another land makes you remember the tears that fell before you left it.

They say we have a high bull-shit meter. We have to. We are not in the age where the last president we will forget to remember is Ronald Reagan but one who we never can that occasionally spurts #fakenews in the age of Donald Trump. Having a high bull-shit meters means that we know when to walk away when a job opportunity isn’t right for us, we know when you are just speaking your views and we’re okay with you being you. We might disagree and argue, but at the end of the day we know we have our views too. It’s not that we don’t care what you think as feedback is great, but we were also shaped by mindfulness and gurus that have taught us to know better. No, they were not the mindfulness gurus of the Beatnik generation. They are ones that preach our goals, goals, goals and make it accessible. We were born in an age where power lies in speaking out as the media is in our hands. Is it fake news? Yes, as it’s always biased.

They say we’re not feminist enough. You would learn from millennials to not label people. The millennial wave of feminism was that “real women have curves”, of denouncing Disney princesses and analyzing them to the T because they were weak and frail instead of acknowledging that they did the best in their time. The Disney Princess I idolize the most is the most mindful “With a Smile and the Song”, the most hardworking “Whistle While You Work”, and the most that experienced misogyny and spoke out bravely in what she wished for against Grumpy, and was kind to not turn her back on even her enemies. Of course, the first crowned Disney Princess of them all, the only one fairest of them all to have her own Hollywood Star of Fame Snow White. She was forward thinking, and knew the best will always come, “Some Day My Prince will Come” and was a lover and dreamer at heart “I’m Wishing”. Coming with our bullshit meter is calling out on these things, as we see the glamorous lives of both Housewives and Girlbosses and realize that they’re both awesome women, and sexy and glam in their own ways. We want both.

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We just know what we want and are unafraid to go after it. I wanted to be a Disney princess and I didn’t buy into this Millennial feminism culture that feminism is about sexuality and ending women repression through sex and went for what I wanted. To me, it was unfeminist to devalue myself as a woman to have sex with men simply to defy a standard or utilize that as excuse for a voracious sexual appetite. I wanted to be a Disney princess and a girlboss and I knew getting married early would help me not only achieve that status but ground my career. I wasn’t going to make the millennial mistake of having kids in high school or ostracizing the whole better lot of women that are married.

We grew up in an age when the Harry Potter Movie released was of Cedric Diggory’s death, whom fell in love with Bella Swan not because she was the strongest vampire but because of her invisible shield. She had the super power, of not letting other forces influencing her while concomitantly allowing them to persist. We grew up in an age where those bullied (ahem all Hufflepuffers) stood up to their peers for their queerness, stood up for themselves without mitigating their character, and walked away.

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We see ourselves as not the end, but the pioneers of a new generation.

A lot of  competitiveness and ambition, and veganism and dieting and health did not tear individuals apart but brought them together. Where it was okay to be beautiful and smart, to be different, and have others to be different and have the confidence to be themselves too. This is a new world, a world shaped on kindness and diversity, where it is not status or logos or monetary wealth that matters, but recognizing that every human being, and every species does.

"They call us dreamers, but we are the ones who never sleep".

–Kiyoko Osone