SPECIAL REPORT

Millennial Me

By Debby Kwong
Photography by Chino Sardea & Jie Rui Tu
10 Jul 2019

Adulting on my own terms

Google the term ‘millennials’ and the search results will tell you it’s a synonym for Generation Y – people born between 1981 and 1996. I was born in 1988, so I’m at the midpoint. Does that make me the most accurate representation of a Millennial?

I’ve taken quizzes on Buzzfeed, New York Times and The Guardian, and my results always say I’m Generation X. Why? I grew up recording songs onto cassette tapes, watching Disney’s Aladdin on VHS, saving Word documents onto floppy disks, knowing the pains of dial-up Internet and shouting “MOM!!!” when she picked up the phone, using a clamshell mobile phone, and going to Video Ezy to rent the latest blockbuster DVDs. These are experiences that my cousins born in the early 90’s didn’t have.

So, I’d say the best definition of Millennials is a generation granted access to something previous generations didn’t have before – technology and all of the world’s information at our fingertips. And that’s the reason why Millennials know how to work smarter, are more aware of global issues and know there’s more to living than working at a 9 to 5 job to own a car, buy a house and be a ‘proper’ grown-up. But that has led to some negative stereotypes. Millennials are also sometimes known as Generation Me, Trophy Kids, Snowflake Generation or the Peter Pan Generation, terms most often used by non-Millennials which imply negative characteristics, such as being lazy, spoiled and selfish.

What are some of the other stereotypes? Less emotionally resilient, self-entitled, probably took a gap year, obsessed with social media, believes in a work-life balance, splurges on brunch (apparently avocado toast is why millennials can't afford to buy houses), dresses in athleisure on the weekends, supports ethical and sustainable businesses, works for passion not pay, still lives with his/her parents and possibly strives for FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early). I admit, I live up to 75 per cent of those stereotypes, and I’m proud of it. 

My weekday routine looks like this: Wake up at 6:45 am, walk down to the nearby Orangetheory Fitness studio for a one hour of high intensity interval training, have a leisurely half an hour breakfast, where I scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Feedly and check my horoscope for the day on Co-Star (a popular astrology app that recently raised over US$5 million in funding), before starting on my to-do list. As a freelance stylist and writer, that could involve pitching story ideas, writing articles, doing up a moodboard for a fashion shoot, coordinating the wardrobe and team for the shoot and having lunch with friends or brands’ PRs at new eateries that keep showing up on our Instagram feed. As an entrepreneur running my personal styling and home organization business, I schedule appointments with clients, update the social media feed, and plan potential partnerships and marketing efforts.

Most of this can be done from home where I’ve got my MacBook Air, my iPhone and Wi-Fi access. Obviously, this is something my Baby Boomer parents still haven’t wrapped their heads around. But that doesn’t matter to them, as long as I’m financially independent, not in debt and can afford my lifestyle. What matters to me? I’m happier, healthier, and fulfilled at work… now all that’s missing is a life partner. Am I swiping on Tinder, Bumble or Coffee Meets Bagel? You bet I am.