Melissa Frey

Fiction Writer, Freelancer for Hire, and Paleo Enthusiast

An Open Letter to My Seasoned Coworkers from a Millennial

An Open Letter to My Seasoned Coworkers from a Millennial 042816

Dear Seasoned Coworker,

There are so many things I wish I could tell you in person, things I wish you understood. Here are the top three: First, I’m not as lazy as you think I am. Second, my smartphone will be on my person at all times (it’s too expensive to be left anywhere else), and third, and most importantly, we’re on the same team.

That day when you rolled your eyes at me for checking Google before I cracked open a phone book, I wasn’t mad. I actually kind of get it. For years, the phone book was the gatekeeper to everyone’s phone numbers, and you probably can’t understand why I don’t even bother with phone numbers anymore. But I can honestly tell you that I have no idea how to use a phone book. This may be why you think I’m lazy, but I’m really not.

You see, the world has changed, and is still changing. I’m sure that’s readily apparent to you. But what you perhaps do not understand is that I’ve lived in a constant state of change my whole life. With the advent of the Internet and social media, which are changing literally by the second, my entire life has been a succession of one change after another. It’s truly exhausting, but I’m adaptable. I’ve adapted by taking in previously unheard of amounts of data and filtering them like an expert to retain what serves me and discard what doesn’t.

Remember when you were upset that I was constantly sending emails back and forth to vendors and customers and you weren’t able to catch every detail? I’m not trying to circumvent you, I promise. Delegation is part of my filtering process, which is necessary to keep my head above water in the endless stream of information assaulting me from all sides. I am trying to take things off your plate, especially things that I know frustrate you. Plus email is infinitely faster for me than making a phone call.

We all need to slow down. I get that, more than you realize. I do that with a yoga video I found on YouTube. I meditate in silence, then draw inspiration and spiritual guidance from books on my iPad. I play soothing music on Spotify, pull up recipes on my favorite blogs, then FaceTime my nephew three time zones away.

My life is a constant influx of information. Call it being a product of my environment, and that’s probably true, but this is where I am, who I am, who we are: our lives inexorably tied to a screen. True, we need to learn to unplug at times, but to disregard technology entirely would be a disservice to all the friends we’ve never met in person, or all the people we’re able to help that live on the other side of the world, or the mentors we can learn from that happen to live in a different state than we do.

But here’s the bottom line, what we really want to say to you: We need you. We promise you’re not irrelevant. Your methods may seem outdated to us at times, but you’ve walked this earth longer than we have, and we would put ourselves at a disadvantage if we ignored all that knowledge and wisdom.

So work with us, please. We’re young, yes, but we have so much to offer the world. We just want to make things better, and you can help us do that.

We want to incite change in our company, our environment, the world, and we want things to change for the better. But we can’t do it alone.

Sincerely,

Your Millennial Colleague (you know, the one on their iPhone)

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5 Comments

  1. Ooooo I really like this, Melissa. I especially like the last part about saying that we need the older generations and that they’re relevant. Wise words and true. I had a co-worker who was the eye-rolling millennial IT guy with a chip on his shoulder – so kind of the opposite to your story. My good friend in the teller window next to me was in her 50’s and was treated so condescendingly by him. I was so ashamed to be so close in age with someone who so quickly viewed the older generation’s lack of ease with technology as frailty and idiocy. Grr. She taught me a great deal about life until she quit because of the toxicity at work. 🙁

    • That’s so unfortunate! It’s tempting and easy to be condescending, but I wrote this mostly to remind myself that there is much to be learned from the older generation. A little empathy and understanding goes a long way!

  2. I love this– There can be a palpable disconnect between generations, and unfortunately it sometimes results in an “us vs. them” dynamic. But regardless of whether it’s an older person who can offer experience and wisdom, or a younger person with adaptability and dynamism, we should each use our strengths to work together and make things better!

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