In today’s world, filled with popular misconceptions and stereotypes regarding the young population, it’s a constant struggle for those of the Millennial generation to define and maintain their identity. With an ever-changing culture of social media, technology and worldwide uncertainty, this generation doesn’t have it as easy as you might think.

“Millennial” is the term most people associate with lazy, phone-obsessed people who spend their money on avocado toast and overpriced smoothies. Yet, although this generation is lucky compared to others in terms of a having an education, a job and a car or house, the journey to discovering self-identity is less straightforward than you may think.

Social media


hand holding phoneOur ever-changing world is filled with so many distractions—like phones and oh-so-many social media apps—that it can be tiring to keep up with. We’re at the age where, if we had to go a day without using our cell phones, most of us probably wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.

This dependence on technology has all but taken control of our lives, and as a result, we’re lacking a sense of purpose and meaning. Although technology has made our lives easier in some ways, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Every person has an identity. Most likely, when you meet someone, the first part of your identity you give is your name. However, today, many people tend to offer their Instagram or Snapchat handle after they meet someone.

Thanks to technology, we can meet someone new, and in a matter of seconds, browse through their social media pages and see their pictures, their thoughts and even videos of their life. This has created a culture in which people are beginning to base their identity on what others think of them instead of their genuine personality.

Although you may post Snapchat stories regularly, or have a thousand followers on Instagram, how much does social media really say about your identity?

A rollercoaster of emotions


The Quarter-Life Crisis, similar to the midlife crisis, occurs at a time between your twenties and thirties when you’re going through a rollercoaster of emotions and feel like you’ve hit a brick wall. It’s a time when you feel lost and confused about your purpose in life, and where your future lies.

Most millennials, at this stage, have recently left school or are starting a career. Most people start to get a taste of being a true adult: bills, bills and more bills. You may also start to feel the pressure from older generations to:

  • Save for a house
  • Get married
  • Think about retirement (and other financial issues)

To add insult to injury, you also have to go to the gym after work and go home and make a home-cooked meal. With so many things to juggle, it starts to make sense that so many young people are struggling to find purpose in life.

Although many people think their identity is represented by their job title, their relationship or an organization, this is really just a form of cultural identity shaped by the society we live in. A financial advisor’s purpose may be to help people save for retirement, and a teacher’s purpose may be to educate children, but this only defines what you do and not what you stand for.

With society being so centred on status, labels and image, this generation is focused on building an identity based on approval, rather than a genuine identity. A handful of Millennials are working hard towards something that doesn’t give them a sense of entitlement, though, since they’re seeking and searching in the right places.

Identity crisis?


thumbprintEvery person goes through a different journey in their search for identity. Some may have a long, short or unpredictable journey. Regardless, each person reaches a dead end where it seems like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

When you begin to have an identity crisis, this often means you’ve stopped growing and have hit a plateau.

This is where your character and identity really start to take shape. Persevering forward takes initiative, fortitude and most importantly, personal growth. When you begin to have an identity crisis, this often means you’ve stopped growing and have hit a plateau.

This is more and more common these days, because we have access to so much information that we don’t know what to make of it. When you have access to everything, it’s exhausting, and eventually leads to the seeking of simple, easy things like Instagram, Netflix and the cyber world.

It may be easy to browse Instagram for an hour or go on a Netflix marathon, but how much are you really learning about yourself? Moving forward requires us to take a step forward and start to ask ourselves some of these more challenging questions:

  • When was the last time you tried something new or truly did something for yourself?
  • When was the last time you did something because you care deeply about it?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What is your identity made of?

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Michael Li

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