Before listening to this podcast, which interviews Anne Helen Petersen, the senior culture writer from Buzzfeed news who wrote the article “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation”, please read the original article here!
The podcast references another article, “This is What Black Burnout Feels Like”. Please peruse that one here!
After reading Anne Helen Petersen’s “How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation” and listening to the aforementioned podcast, I had TOO much I wanted to say! I attribute this to the fact that despite missing the cut off for being a millennial (which is 1996 and I was born in 1997), I can relate to this so much. I feel like I am in a unique position where I can relate to characteristics of millennials’ childhood, but also saw the transition to a new type of childhood that she describes in her article. For example, I grew up playing unorganized games in the backyard with my neighbors (who didn’t love a good game of capture the flag?), but I also played organized sports. I got my first phone in 7th grade, which was not a smart phone and essentially had no social media besides Facebook until high school, but the kids in the grade below me all got iPhones that next year for Christmas and started talking about Instagram. I witnessed the changes she describes just at an earlier age. Regardless, here are some things that came to mind while reading and listening.
- The never ending to-do list with high effort-low reward tasks that never gets done exists on my phone, on the white board in my room, and written down throughout my planner. That size too big ring I bought on Etsy and wanted to return in March (over 6 months ago)? Yup, still sitting on my desk. Those airline miles I meant to register from my spring break flight, but stopped when I couldn’t figure out my password? Yeah, that never got done either. Let’s talk about my computer microphone that has been broken for over a year. I decided not to submit a video interview of myself to a company when I discovered it was broken and thought that it would be too much effort and hassle to get it fixed in time to do it. “I’ll do it later”, I thought. I thought wrong. Plus the job wasn’t a “cool job that I am passionate about” like Anne describes (can I tell you how many times I have heard that phrase from all of my friends scheduled to graduate this year???).
- The financial crisis Anne described can easily be repeated in my generation. In fact, right now we are worried about a recession in 2020–the same year many ’97/’98 babies will graduate college. Will this all start again? Should we be panicking if we don’t have jobs locked in now? Should we take them even if we don’t want them long term to avoid working 3 retail jobs post-grad? The impact of student loans and the recession on millennials may be why many 2020 presidential candidates are advocating for student loan forgiveness. The fear of an oncoming recession and the impending doom of repaying student loans once we exit our institutions may be why we are listening closely to these candidates…
- I have said that I should mediate more. I have thought about calling out sick from work and then didn’t all of co-op. I have put limits and timers on my social media usage. I have thought about performing more acts of self-care and delegating tasks within my relationships and organizations. All of these things Anne mentions in this article and I admit that I should do them, so why haven’t I? I make up excuses such as, “I don’t have time”, “I can’t quiet my mind”, “The other interns don’t call out sick”, “I won’t make money”, “I will look bad”, “Self-care is expensive”, “I can do this task faster/better/the way that I want”.
- My co-op company offers employees the opportunity to work 48 hour work weeks for bonuses. I noticed in my first few weeks that many of the people who consistently opt into working extra hours every week are millennials. They are the ones who are paying off student loans, getting married, starting families, and looking into moving. Some of them have openly expressed how important those extra dollars are for them and one talked about finally getting to move out of his parents house now that his loans are paid off.
- When I over plan and schedule things, I make something fun like seeing a friend from home feel like a task I am checking off a list. I noticed this past summer that I was starting to feel like this especially as I tried to fit in seeing as many people as possible.
So after reading the article, listening to the podcast, and writing this stream of consciousness, I started to reflect on what are the things I can do/have done to alleviate my feelings of burnout. This is what I came up with so far:
- I took no classes the last term of my co-op to give myself a mental break from school.
- I found intellectual pursuits (learning guitar and Spanish) that I can pick up/put down when I have time. I am telling myself that it is okay if I am not quickly progressing because the process is fun! I am not setting deadlines or goals for learning these things, but rather working on enjoying the pursuit for what it is.
- I am setting a goal for Fall term that after field hockey on Tuesday and Thursday nights, I will not do homework, but rather I will go to bed.
- I am taking small moments to breathe–on the train to work, walking back to my apartment from class, a few minutes before bed, etc. It isn’t the same as meditating, but it is the best I can do for now.
- Writing this piece. Acknowledging that I was having feelings of burnout made me motivated to combat them! Now that is something on my to-do list that I can’t ignore.