Work hard and pay your dues: an open letter to an overly-entitled millenial

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Last week, San Francisco-based Yelp/Eat24 customer support employee Talia Jane Ben-Ora, 25, wrote an open letter to her CEO, Jeremy Stoppard, in which she claimed she was not paid enough. Within a few hours of the post going live, she was fired. Here,’s junior writer, and fellow millennial, Sarah Biddlecombe, argues that she needs to learn to pay her dues.

Dear Talia,

I am just like you.

Just like you, I think the cost of living in a big city is too high compared with the wages. Here in little old London, the average cost of a house is 14 times the average salary, and people fork out thousands of pounds a month to rent a living space the size of a cupboard.

Just like you, I struggle to manage my finances, and I am also swimming in debt. If the total sum of my student loan repayments was converted into physical pound coins that were placed next to each other in a line, I’m pretty sure that line would stretch halfway around the world.

And, just like you, I have been unhappy living in rented accommodation. I have shared tiny flats with strangers who are messy, inconsiderate, violent and rude. I've been late to work because I've had to queue to use a shared bathroom and housemates have stolen everything from food to makeup to clothes from me. I know the struggle of handing over the majority of my salary to pay my rent, and I too have lived a life of crying every week in the bathtub.

So these things make me just like you: an unfortunate millennial caught in a relentless cycle of living hand to mouth because, yes, our generation has been screwed over.

But, unlike you, I do not wear a sense of entitlement like a badge of honour. Your argument would have held a lot more weight with me had you ended it with the conclusion that you would take more responsibility for your own finances.

Because really, what makes you so uniquely special that you cannot get a second job to bring in more money, or join a houseshare, or sell your car to cut costs? I struggle to feel sympathy for someone who claims to be unable to afford food or heating but can pay for an iPhone, home internet and, I assume, a laptop on which those open letters were penned.

And while I empathise with your struggle to make ends meet on a meagre salary, your outrage that you would have to work in that particular department for “an entire year” before being promoted says a lot to me about your work ethic.

Your bitterness towards Yelp feels, at best, misguided. You weren’t happy with the healthcare benefits. You were provided with free snacks on every floor of your building, and a “whole fridge” full of bread you could eat at your leisure. But this wasn’t good enough for you: you were simply enraged the company dared only restock your complimentary food five days a week rather than the full seven.

I am, truly, amazed that 72 people (at the time of writing) have donated to a GoFundMe campaign set up in your honour to help you “eat/live”, particularly when there are thousands of people genuinely living below the poverty line in America.

Perhaps they need to have a look at these images of all the food you can afford to eat and cook (see below), and the expensive bourbon you buy - as testified by your social media accounts. They certainly seem at odds with your claim that you can only afford to eat plain rice, or that you have to drink water before bed so you don't wake up starving in the middle of the night.

I hope you keep true to your Twitter promise to match the $2,317 (£1,665) raised in your honour so far and donate it to a charity.

Because I can’t help feeling that if you did really want to “bring to light a struggle that shouldn’t exist” and “support the demand to find that solution”, you could have followed your other career options of going to law school or becoming a teacher.

But these options would, in your opinion, make you a “cliché”, so instead you took to the internet to write a 2,400 word blog post. 

It’s a shame that when you told your eight-year-old self “having a car and a credit card and [your] own apartment” were “what it means to be an adult”, you failed to include any of the qualities that would actually help you to become a grownup

You need to learn to pay your dues and work your way up the career ladder. Money is a necessity but you will be working for the next 40 years of your life, so make sure you choose a career path that you love. 

I quit my first job because it wasn’t right for me, and it is only after two years of hard graft that I am finally where I want to be. 

Besides, an achievement can only be called as such if you actually worked to get it.

Yours faithfully,

A fellow millennial

Image: Getty


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter