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The parents and elders of millennials distributed bad advice and sold young adults a dream of what would be available to them if they followed a template for success. To be fair, at the time, those handing out advice had no malicious intent; they were simply sharing their lived path to  success and what they’d seen work for their peers over the years. 

The formula was quite simple; go to school, get good grades, graduate, get a good job, buy a home, start a family, retire and live off your pension in a warm climate until God calls you home to your final resting place. Seems simple enough, right?

The issue with this formula is it didn’t account for the friction of life and capitalism. Our elders — Gen X and Baby Boomers — didn’t provide pivot options for a depression-like recession, housing crisis, pension overhaul, union busting, inflation, wage stalls or a global pandemic. These occurrences over the last two decades have made the original formula for success obsolete, leaving many millennials with more debt than income and a need to “Occupy Wall Street.”  

Fast forward to today, it is overwhelmingly clear that the dream of retiring and maintaining a lifestyle with funds from a pension is simply that — a dream. Need proof? From 1975 to 2017, the number of companies offering traditional pensions plummeted from 103,000 to 46,700, according to reports from CNBC

Langston Hughes wrote a famous poem about what happens when dreams are deferred. Much like his poem, the dream of graduating from college and obtaining a mid-level management job has dried up like a raisin in the sun. 

Since the days of protesting on Wall Street, millennials have been aware of their embarrassingly low salaries and increasing job demands— but with little applicable advice from the older generations, we were stuck trying to figure out the route to financial stability. With no template for success, we have been forced to construct our own paths to happiness. For many, that has meant submitting two weeks’ notice and quitting corporate jobs as part of the current Great Resignation.  

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, white-collar workers were given the opportunity to work remotely and ponder their relationship with their employers. With death swirling around, reminding everyone across the globe about their own mortality, the time away from the constant hustle resulted in many asking themselves if dedicating 40-plus hours a week to the mission and goals of another is what they wanted for themselves. For a sizable number of millennials and Gen Z, the answer to that question was a resounding “no.” 

With fewer employer benefits, the incentive to remain loyal to one employer over the course of  one’s career is extremely low, resulting in the “job hopper” stereotype of millennials. After about two years, if there are no signs of promotion or raise, many young adults go on the prowl for greener pastures. The pandemic has broadened the possibilities of the pastures available. 

Exploring entrepreneurship, back-packing across Asia, learning a new language, or pasta making are all possibilities for those embarking on their pandemic-induced sabbaticals.

While living in too small apartments with too high rents, millennials were able to face the realities of their own burnout and devise a plan to overcome the churn and burn of Microsoft Teams meetings, Slack messages and virtual happy hours.  

As some workers return to the workforce, they have new expectations and demands for their employers, including more flexibility and higher salaries. Millennials want the freedom to work from whatever side of the globe they choose with salaries that make living comfortable lifestyles a realistic option. 

For those who have not taken a sabbatical, they have made it overwhelmingly clear that they have no issues with leaving one organization to head to another if the pay and culture align with their expectations. As of last fall, about 55% of adult Americans said they have plans to search for a new job within the next 12 months — with the majority of that make-up being Millennials and Gen Z adults, according to

In the case of the service world, many have not been afforded the luxury of living off a 401(k) while they back-pack through foreign lands and figure out life. So they resorted to taking a short break away to find other flexible methods of generating  income. 

Upon their return, they resorted to organizing and utilizing the power of unions and togetherness. At the end of 2021, a group of Starbucks employees at the Elmwood Avenue store in Buffalo, N.Y., became the first unionized location in the United States, with more that have followed suit.  

As workers have the opportunity to reflect and organize, they realize their power. This realization is causing a historical shift in the dynamic of employment and the nature of working.  We are witnessing the rise of the worker. A worker revolution.

is a Chicago native who enjoys travel, music, and food. Zara is also the lead host of the Read A F*ck!ng Book club.