By Jackie James —

The letter Z. The last letter in the English language. Have you ever noticed that the letter Z doesn’t get enough credit? Think about it: Z is the least used letter in the alphabet, yet it has given us some awesome words like zesty, zombie and zayum. The same lack of respect is given to Generation Z, the group of people born anywhere from the mid-1990’s to the early 2000’s, just after the Millennials. But don’t worry, Gen Z, you are on track to one day rule the world.

What makes Gen Z so special? Your uniqueness. If you are lucky enough to be a part of Gen Z, you value your individuality and creativity. Pink hair and unconventional clothing styles don’t define you; they express who you are. You are less judgmental than other generations, and more accepting of others who don’t look like you, act like you and think like you. You don’t adhere to rigid standards in any area of your life, because those rules no longer apply. This isn’t your grandparent’s world, or even your parent’s world; it is yours for the taking. When older generations ask what you want to be when you get older, the answer isn’t some pat reply; you genuinely don’t know WHICH job you want to pursue because you haven’t INVENTED the job yet! You have an entrepreneurial spirit that hasn’t been seen in decades; you have little desire to struggle in the typical workplace and are on the cutting edge of technology, affording you opportunities that others have never experienced.

Unlike many older generations, you are socially and globally conscious. You care about the environment, equal human rights, and the plight of the animals on this planet. You will unabashedly voice your opinion on gun control, women’s rights, and gay marriage and stand up to the unjustness of the powers that be. While social causes are your passion, you are not strictly left-leaning, and actually are more fiscally conservative than the Millennials. While the world you were born into may have had stigmas and social mores, the world you are influencing has an attitude of acceptance and fellowship.

As an American Gen Z, you may be staunchly patriotic, but not necessarily blindly believe the propaganda that is thrown your way. You may believe whole-heartedly in our country, but not be afraid to address its shortcomings, or the people who run it!

Generation Z is the first totally global generation; you can access information and people at the press of a button. You’re not afraid of new technology; you embrace it. Social media, in all its forms, entertains, informs, and in many ways, dictates your life choices. The internet has opened up a landslide of opportunities culturally, economically, socially, and educationally. You have never lived in a world without people earning money from YouTube videos or having instant access to anything and everything in a matter of seconds. With this access to virtually…everything, there comes a responsibility, one that you willingly accept. Photoshopping is not okay; neither is cyber-bullying. Gen Z keeps it real.

You adapt well, and you accept change like no other generation before you. With the breakdown of the family nucleus and the ever-changing norms, you are resilient. You are not a slave to a brand name; where your parents or grandparents may have been fiercely loyal to the American-made Ford because it

was a Ford does not mean you will subscribe to the same philosophy. Instead, you make decisions to purchase based on your own findings, not based on nostalgia. You don’t feel the need to visit a mall or box store to purchase items; that is so 2001. You set the pace, with online purchases your “store” of choice. You are willing to try new things and will quickly move on if it does not satisfy your needs.

You may not remember a world before 9-11, school shootings or reality television, but you are influenced by them all in your everyday life.  Flying on an airplane has never been the same after the 9-11 tragedy, and in the back of your mind, you have to always wonder if a fellow student is going to snap. And the on-going saga of the Kardashian sisters—who’s having a baby, who is fighting with a pop star, who is earning millions of dollars for endorsing products she doesn’t use—these are questions you must constantly ponder. However, on a planet so influenced by what others think, do and say, you have the presence of mind to stay true to who you are.

Generation Z has courage. It takes courage to speak up, to embarrass yourself, have it caught on camera and blasted across the world for all to see. It is not without pressure, for sure, but your generation is one of the biggest and strongest we have had in many years. Your choices, purchases, and beliefs will set the stage for the next generations to come. It’s a huge responsibility, but one that Gen Z can certainly handle.

Say what they will about Gen Z, but your generation is poised to change the world. You have the ingenuity, resilience, will, tech skills and conscience to make an amazing impact on those around you, as a group and individually. Let the haters take their firing shots on your generation, but in the end, you will have the last word—and it will begin with the letter Z.