Elaine Tat (@elainetat)
Age: 24 | Profession: Registered Nurse
Elaine is a hard-working professional who enjoys things like travelling, fashion, and eating at the trendiest restaurants. Before we sat down for our millennial spotlight, we chatted about everything from eyelash extensions to her upcoming Miami trip. Some may see these treats as extravagant, but her strong work ethic and humble values combats the stereotypical idea that a millennial is “spoiled, shallow, and self-absorbed”.
Read more about Elaine’s thoughts on our generation below in today’s Millennial Spotlight.
1. What are some characteristics that you share with other millennials?
I definitely like eating trendy foods (i.e. Thai icecream rolls) like other millennials. I think we are exposed to so many cultures which also inspires us to travel and try different foods. Exposing yourself to new experiences can be really humbling. Besides food, I also have traditional, goal-centered values that I learned from my mom like saving money, buying a house/car/general assets, and having a safety net mixed with modern values that I gained from university.
2. What negative perceptions can you think of, and do you agree/disagree with them?
Past generations have the misconceptions that: millennials don’t work hard, they are never satisfied with their job position, and they expect to get a promotion without doing hard work. It is true that we can be unsatisfied, but that is okay because it comes from knowing that there are so many ways to make money and advance in your career if one job isn’t working for you.
To the older generations, success is very linear. You stay in a company for 20 years and gain seniority, and that is considered successful. But now, you can find success if you try new things. Jumping from job to job can help you find what you truly love and what is right for you. For example, one of my friends is a teacher who loves to travel. She was teaching supply teacher jobs on the side but recently found an online teaching job where she can travel and teach on the internet at the same time. We should be less afraid changing jobs. Changing jobs shouldn’t represent laziness, but courage to break out when you don’t want to pursue the 9-5 job.
3. What makes this generation different from the last?
We don’t really know how to save money which comes partly from seeing how hard our parents work. We just want to enjoy life and spend the money on ourselves versus our parents who spent it on kids and a house. We use money to travel where other generations think it’s a waste because they would rather save up for a down payment. I think saving money is tough because when you’re with friends, they encourage you to work on yourself like your mental health and your life and that is considered more important than saving money. Just saving money can be really draining. I remind myself that I am young and I did everything on time (i.e. going to school for years, graduating on time, getting a job right after school), so if I am making money then this is the time to spend it on myself before things like marriage and kids.
4. As a Registered Nurse, can you speak about millennials in regard to mental health?
There are some points in time at the hospital where I see about 50% of patients who are in for psychosis induced by marijuana. More and more people are coming to the hospital for this problem. The accessibility of weed is concerning because this temporary psychosis can lead to long term impacts like the development of schizophrenia, and there is really no good treatment for schizophrenia. The accessibility of weed is only going to increase with legalization of weed, but this is a whole other topic for another day.
In general, mood disorders are subjective and everyone experiences it differently so it’s hard to talk about broadly. If you are looking at a general trend, I think all millennials experience a mood disorder that is situational or chronic at some time in their life. Right now, people our age (20s) have lives that are pretty predictable, so I’m finding that those who come in the hospital for mental health issues are people going through less predictable times in their life like teenagers because they are experiencing alot of changes into adulthood, or people in their 40s who may be going through a traumatic situation like losing their job, their house, or their partner. I also think there aren’t many millennials coming into the hospital because the hospital treats extreme cases of mental illness. Millennials would probably be seeing their family doctors, so they aren’t representing a huge population in the hospital. The younger people that come in the hospital that are treated for mental illness sometimes also have behavioral problems as well. For these people, the treatment is not just medicine but they require major life changes to improve their mental health.
Our generation is different from the last in terms of mental health because we have increasingly difficult school systems that place alot of stress on the individual whereas the past generation was less focused on the individual and more preoccupied with building up the country after war. Where PTSD was more prominent in the past, now we are dealing with other mental health problems. Our generation is also better at talking about mental health and raising awareness about what it is because many people realize they are going through it. To them I would say that it’s important to have coping strategies for all types of mood disorders.