newsflash: everyone’s burnt out.

newsflash: everyone’s burnt out.

you know, millennials, i didn’t really understand all the flack and outrage toward you. as a half millennial myself, i kind of understood (i’m a xennial – born in 79). i didn’t get the special snowflake syndrome. i thought the hipster phase was quirky. i was annoyed by the articles pitting boomers against millennials, but that was mostly because i was wondering “where am i in this?”

but overall? millennials are ok. i have siblings who are millennials. rock on.

until this article: “How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation”

But when it came to the mundane, the medium priority, the stuff that wouldn’t make my job easier or my work better, I avoided it.

Burnout and the behaviors and weight that accompany it aren’t, in fact, something we can cure by going on vacation. It’s not limited to workers in acutely high-stress environments. And it’s not a temporary affliction: It’s the millennial condition. It’s our base temperature. It’s our background music. It’s the way things are. It’s our lives.

i read this article slack jawed, reading how people in their mid 20s-late 30s are not going to the post office, avoiding getting their knives sharpened, not submitting insurance claims to the tune of $1000. and how life is hard. the recession killed jobs. but now they’re working all the time because it’s expected of them. and most of all because they’re ill prepared for life.

before i get too far, i have a couple caveats: i’m an oldest of four. my mother was a taskmaster to all of us. minus the guy with a TBI, we’re all gainfully employed and able to make it in life. a lot of this i attribute to excellent parenting.

but, that’s not to say that being an adult is not HARD WORK. there were a lot of things as an adult* that i was ill prepared for, ESPECIALLY in my 20s and 30s.

and that’s how i became extraordinarily irritated at this article, at the author, at the stupid unfinished to-do list, at the millennial generation. sure, they can’t all espouse these ideals, but really? really?

then here’s a secret: we’re all burnt out.

i kept thinking about my mom while reading that article. the woman is probably one of the hardest working people i know. in the early 90s, she quit her job to go back to school with a house of four kids and my dad (who was kind of in and out of work and more SAHD). add on top of that managing a household, little income, and no one to tell her how to do all that – talk about burnt out. now, she’s still working, houses my brother with a TBI, and has an octogenarian husband (hi dad!). i’d imagine she’s still burnt out. and she’s no millennial.

we all had to work hard in our 20s. we all didn’t have a $45k/yr job waiting for us out of college. we all had to work at making ourselves indispensable at work. and we all can figure out how to get to the post office to put our ballot in the mail. or not, if that’s what we choose to do. this is not new news.

i left college in 2001 and worked at a newspaper for $7/hr (almost $10/hr today). then i decided to go to grad school to amass more debt, i guess. new job for $12/hr. then i got laid off. in 2006. (that’s pre-recession.) then i graduated from grad school and worked at target. then i got a job for $12/hr, where i worked for 5 years over the recession years, making it through 6 series of layoffs, until i quit to pursue a job that actually made use of my skills. that job that finally was what i wanted to do? i got it when i was 33.

from what i can tell in the article, the burnout comes from working too much. i can’t figure out if that meant that people don’t want to work 40 hrs/wk anymore or if millennials are working 60-hr weeks. and part if it, i gleaned, comes from the expectation that they would work that much. well, STOP IT. salaried? put a max on the hours you will work. yes, we know there’s work to be done, but if i stayed til my work was done, i would have to work straight for a month with no sleep.

worried about getting replaced? you’re cheap (see $7/hr above). and, if you can make yourself indispensable at work, then all the better. the reason i survived 6 rounds of layoffs was because of that. i was the last person to be hired in pre-press, and 5 people were laid off before i quit. you can learn new things – cross train, work hard during your 40 hours, and be open to change. another pro-tip: get an hourly job if you can. i have NEVER been salaried, and if i go over 40 hrs/wk, i am paid OT.

so what was i ill prepared for? budgeting was not a fun thing for me. dealing with bad roommates, figuring out how to manage school loans, debt, and eating. awful jobs. more awful jobs. bosses that sucked. figuring out what exactly i did want. you know, what most people deal with.

i’m sorry that we can’t all be a trust-fund baby, not work, and have a butler to do all our bidding. you don’t think all people would take that if offered? you’re not the lone generation to not want to do that. i think the only thing from the past that espouses the ideals that millennials would like to aspire to are the 1950s white men who went to work, came home to a meal on the table and a sparkling house (thanks to their wives), then got to sit in the living room afterward reading the paper and drinking a scotch until it was time for bed. talk about making america great again.

my dad once told me that the best time for americans was in the late 1800s. i scoffed at that and told him that may have been the best time for white american men. now is a pretty great time considering rights and amenities for women and POC, even with the current administration. if i think about if i’d rather live and work now or in the late 1800s, i’ll take now in a heartbeat. think about no electricity, chopping wood, killing and growing your food, preserving it, saving seeds, tilling with handheld tools, doing laundry over the course of 2 days, cooking on a woodstove, etc etc. it had to have been backbreaking. they weren’t watching netflix for five hours straight, that’s for sure.

i think a huge part of why millennials think they got the short end of the stick is that now there is this platform that shows everyone what CAN be. what we should strive to be. instagram, facebook, twitter – the way to show our best faces. all we see of others is the good stuff – the perfect lives. so why wouldn’t millennials be confused when we don’t have that? and better question: why don’t millennials get that that’s not real life?

real life. here’s what real life is: leaving work and heading home right away even though you know you should stop at a grocery store and pick up some milk. making a frozen something food even though you should make some real food. sitting on the couch and watching netflix even though there are clothes to be folded. getting up to run on the treadmill because that’s the one productive thing you’ll do tonight. glancing at the dirty carpet and dishes on the counter even though you’d feel better if you cleaned it up. putting off cleaning the catbox even though the cats would be happier and you’ll regret it when you finally do get around to it. and on and on and on.

and i’m not a millennial. and i’m not burnt out.

this is life. for most everyone.

sorry to break it to you, but this is how the majority of people deal with life. now think about people who are in poverty. think about oppressed groups. think about those who work two full-time jobs in the service industry. think about veterans with PTSD and other mental health problems.

not so burnt out now, are you. cuz here’s some news:

being an adult sucks.

life blows sometimes. you deal with it and make the best of it the way you can until you feel pretty ok with your life balance.

*adult? i mean, i still think of myself as 8 years old sitting in second grade staring at the guy picking his nose wondering why he’s an idiot. a lot of the time i’m not sure how anyone thinks i know what i’m doing. fake it til you make it!


here’s some pro-tips for those who can’t be bothered to sharpen their knives or go to the post office:

  • i bought a fancy electric knife sharpener. best thing ever.
  • get a kitchen scale and weigh your packages with it. buy postage online. if it fits, put it in your mailbox. if not, check out your work’s mail room – they may accept outgoing mail, including UPS and fedex. if not, and going to the post office is inevitable, leave the package on the counter, skipping the line.
  • i don’t know what to do about rebates. i wish they would all move online. but you can buy single stamps from the customer service counter at a grocery store, and they usually have a mail drop.
  • most insurance/HSA things accept online submissions these days. i was annoyed the first time i got a note that i needed to submit my receipt, but after i saw how easy it was, i got over it. save a PDF from one thing and upload it to another. can’t figure out how to save a PDF? take a screenshot. can’t figure that out? visit google.
  • i now have catfood delivered to my house through chewy.com. my next step might be litter.
  • if you hate grocery shopping, use free grocery pickup! i just learned from my cousin that it’s free at walmart. (i do not hate grocery shopping, so i will continue to peruse the stores.)

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