In 2017, Millennials are under a lot of scrutiny. The generation, as a whole, is criticized for being lazy, entitled, technology absorbed, self-centered, and needy. Ask anyone on the street what a Millennial looks like, and the answer will likely include an image of an unemployed 20-something living in his or her parents’ basement.

And look, there’s no denying that some of that is true. As a Millennial myself, I can say we’re always on our phones, we post a lot on social media, and a lot of us spend some time living with our parents after completing our education.

But the stereotypes aren’t all accurate. You might think a college educated 20-something working as a barista has no ambition and would rather mooch off his or her parents for the foreseeable future, but that is almost never the whole story.

The story for those young adults struggling to get a start often begins and ends with student debt. And here in Connecticut, it’s worse than anywhere else in the country.

According to The Ridgefield Press, “Connecticut has the highest student-debt-per-borrower average in the United States.” The average debt per borrower? $35,947.

Think back on when you were first starting out. You just finished college. You’ve got your degree in hand, a spring in your step, and a bright vision for your future. Only you don’t get to start out fresh. No, you’re starting out almost $36,000 in the hole.

Now, you have to find a place to live, a place to work, and do it all while finding a way to make monthly payments on what amounts to a 2016 Hyundai Azera that you don’t get to drive.

Oh, and while we’re at it, do that in a world where the biggest cities are also the most expensive places to live and the job market is terrible and also shifting more to part-time labor. Sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it?

And look, I’m not saying we need to pay for all these kids to go to college. The fact is, there are actually plenty of career options that pay well and don’t require a college degree and the crippling debt that comes with it. The trades are a great option where we need more people.

But as long as we’re burying Millennials in college debt and then blaming them for not succeeding under unimaginable circumstances, we’re going to lose in the long run. So maybe next time you’re asked what a Millennial looks like, reconsider the couch potato stereotype we’ve all embraced in the past. A lot of us may be living with our parents, but believe us, it’s not because we want to.

What do you think? Comment below