The In-Betweeners: Millennials Who Aren’t Millennial Enough

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The In-Betweeners: Millennials Who Aren’t Millennial Enough

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

W

e’re living in a time when millennials are like the Taimur of the global media – everything about their peculiar existence is headline-worthy, with at least one new research report published about them every other day. Millennials are miserable and broke. Millennials are spending more time swiping for love on dating apps. Millennials don’t believe in democracy. Millennials prefer socialism over capitalism. Millennials are having a lot of sex and having lesser sex than the previous generations at the same time. Millennials are killing soap bars in favour of body washes. They are killing golf, malls, and movies too.

You read about all these trends, and for a moment you think “these millennials sound like a really pesky lot who just can’t make up their minds”, but then it also dawns on you that you are technically one of them too. You were born in the ’80s; it is your “label” too. You’re definitely miserable and broke, active on social media, listen to Rihanna, watch a lot of Netflix, and show some of these traits associated with millennials. Yet, you never really feel as millennial as these headlines make you out to be. You like to go on dates, but hook ups are really not your thing. You do like to party but partying all night is just not what you do anymore. You neither identify with the “taking it slow” attitude of Generation X nor do you fit in among your online, on-the-fly colleagues in their early 20s.

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That’s me, an older millennial in my late 20s, stuck in the middle, striving to find my own place. I am part of what I like to call The In-Betweeners.

In my time, people were raised to believe in the traditional way of doing things, like getting the right education to land that dream job. Choosing to opt for “unconventional” careers (I wanted to switch from being a CA to a content creator), launching your own start-up, travelling for a living; all these were not viable things to do in my adolescence. Back in 2008-09, a career in the creative field was not very accessible. Nobody had imagined that you could become a viral celebrity by just posting videos on the newly launched Youtube.

A few years later, by the time I finally did manage muster up the courage to jump ship from being a CA to a creative job, the internet was already crowded with content creators. For many of us, in the aftermath of this kind of transition, trying to meet the traditional parameters of success that were ingrained in us – earning a certain salary at a certain age, a certain designation, owning a car, etc suddenly appeared redundant. You try to abate the negative thoughts of how far you’ve gotten in your life vis-à-vis these stellar young kids, by pushing yourself harder to be able to catch up and also by thinking of all the life experiences you’ve had. I mean, I have worked as an auditor, an accountant, a teacher, a waitress in the Chelsea Football Club’s restaurant, and even as a freebie-distributor at a town centre wearing a bunny costume. That ought to count for something, right?

You begin talking the talk and walking the walk, but a voice inside whispers that this is not where you belong.

When you are an in-betweener still figuring out life, socialising can be a bit tricky unless you find other in-betweeners like you.  A lot of your peers are either married, looking after babies, settled abroad, or just busy being proper adults. So you are left with your younger colleagues and Tinder dates, those ubiquitous millennials whose ideas of fun are very different from yours.

You begin talking the talk and walking the walk, but a voice inside whispers that this is not where you belong. You withdraw, becoming the loner who binge-watches season after season of The Big Bang Theory. It’s a saddening shift, considering we are the last generation to have actually known what life without internet and mobile phones looked like. The last generation to know the real joy of finally watching an episode of our favourite TV show after having waited for it for a week. But I’m not saying the world sucks for us in-betweeners and we hate our younger millennial brethren. We just need our own lane in the middle of the road, a place that does not wear us down.

While I further contemplate how to remain relevant like a proper millennial and live up to that expectation, another Buzzfeed editorial pops up on my phone about the arrival of Generation Z into the professional world. God save us all!

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