If you’ve been on the internet sometime in the last month, you’ve probably seen Anne Helen Petersen’s piece on millennial burnout. It’s an interesting read that claims millennials are “self-optimizing” into oblivion, and, as a result, lack the basic energy and commitment needed to complete everyday tasks that won’t meaningfully improve their lives.
It’s not a shocking revelation that millennials are living different lives from their parents and grandparents when they were the same age. But the idea that millennials have a monopoly on work-related burnout seems…well, off.
In the article, Petersen writes about millennial parents, the relative financial rosiness they grew up in, the “vigilante parenting behavior” they imposed on their children, and how the constant risk management, supervision, and attitude of these parents produced a group of hyper-perfecting young people.
Contrary to popular belief, however, this doesn’t just apply to parents of millennials. In fact, it’s a common attitude among parents to want their children to succeed, be the best version of themselves, to achieve things they couldn’t, and to self-optimize. This kind of “vigilante parenting behavior” not only cuts across race and class, as Petersen mentions in the essay, but across generations, and it doesn’t have any particularly unique hold on parents of millennials.
Similarly, stress, anxiety, and burnout are not unique life conditions for millennials. We all live in that world now and walk the line between feeling connected and productive.
The forces behind burnout – overwork, underpay, shoddy management, lack of recognition, and discrimination – are ubiquitous and require a systemic solution. However, that doesn’t mean individuals can’t chip away at it to improve what’s happening, here and now. Do what feels right, whether that’s putting your phone on “do not disturb” at night or talking to your boss about unreasonable expectations.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution here because there’s no one-size-fits-all problem.
xx, The FabFitFun Team