Nearly nine in ten high school students today say that they would use the word “confident” to describe themselves. And according to a November, 2008 Pepsi Refresh Optimism report, zero percent of Millennials said that they lacked optimism about the long-term future. This report also found that 81 percent of Millennials chose the word “hopeful” to describe their feelings about the future, 65 percent chose “optimistic” and 57 percent chose the words “confident” and “excited” (note: 72 percent chose “concerned,” most likely a reflection of the souring economy). Even more impressive, is that 95 percent of Millennials reported that “It is important to have a positive outlook on life,” with 77 percent strongly agreeing with this statement. This all suggests that Millennials are a very confident and optimistic generation.
Millennials have been raised to believe that we can accomplish anything. Our parents, teachers, counselors, coaches and all adults who have been a part of our lives really, have drilled it into our heads that “if you believe you can achieve.” This must have made an impact because we do have a lot of confidence, some may say a little too much (these are the ones who like to say that we are just a bunch of spoiled, narcissistic brats). Our parents especially have made sure that we know how special and valuable we are. The term “helicopter parents” was coined to describe the extreme involvement many parents have in the lives of their children, hovering overhead to make sure everything is okay and intervening the moment it isn’t.
But our sense of “specialness” is what drives our confidence. You see, we really do believe that things will get better. A February, 2010 PRC survey found that while only 31 percent of Millennials polled said that they earn enough money now, 88 percent say that they believe they will earn enough money in the future. And results from the May, 2010 Harvard IOP survey revealed that although less than half (46 percent) of 18-to-29-year-olds polled said they felt that they would be better off than their parents are now when they reach their parents age, only 11 percent reported that they felt they would be worse off (24 percent felt they would be the same and 18 percent said they weren’t sure). This is quite incredible considering the state of the economy right now.
Even though times are tough, Millennials aren’t throwing in the towel. When asked which groups will be most likely to help America toward a better future, Millennials chose “young people” second only to “scientists.” In other words, Millennials believe that our generation is a key factor in the future success of our nation. It isn’t an individual confidence that fuels this attitude, it is a collective confidence. We just aren’t letting these immense challenges that we have before us dampen our spirit—that would be totally against our civic nature. Instead, we are becoming increasingly determined to work together to solve these problems.
Our confidence will certainly be an asset as we tackle the tough issues that threaten our future. Negativity and doubt will only hold us back as we try to get through these tough times. But we obviously believe in ourselves to get the job done, which is typical of Hero/Civic generations. And thank goodness, for if we didn’t believe in ourselves, our country–and the world–would be in some serious trouble.