Think about it, there has been a constant rise in depression among millennials since 2013 and they have the highest incidences of anxiety compared to all other generations (can’t remember where I read this but think about it). The disturbing undertone of these statistics is how millennials have to bear a world that is constantly in transition, and yet they are deemed as ‘entitled’ adults with a permanent sense of boredom.
Still, one could debate about the context of historical vision because surely the previous generations had their own share of adversities. But how is millennial burnout different enough to be causing this generation to turn into cases of a neurotic mess?
Victims of millennial burnout easily become guilt-ridden and cannot rest even for short periods of time. This is where the burnout of the millennial generation deviates from the concept of simple fatigue – where an act of relaxation feels rewarding and does not leave any feelings of guilt afterwards. In the case of the millennials, a period of rest or inactivity may not mitigate their stress but rather increase it.
We get conscience for not utilising every moment to work towards our goals, pertaining to both our personal and professional life. I recently learnt of a term called ‘errand paralysis’ – a condition where doing simple chores becomes overwhelming. This burnout also induces doubt, low self-esteem, depleted energy levels and restlessness.
Unfortunately, many millennials already suffer from imposter syndrome as well. One of the things that have given rise to this condition is over-expectation from guardians who adopted parenting strategies that sent mixed signals, switching between over-praising and harsh criticism. Societal pressure comes along with the constant nagging sense of ‘always having to prove a point’. technological advancement, fierce competition in the job market and the dire need to achieve perfection in all aspects of life intensified by social media comparisons.
Yes, social media incites millennials to fall into a sad spiral of comparisons. They then resort to posting Instagram pictures of themselves, displaying their ‘good life’ – #LivingTheMoment. They paint a picture of themselves as young, happy and accomplished whereas, in reality, they are in distress.
This overworked, overexposed and overstimulated generation has to navigate itself through the maze of socially constructed standards of career, beauty and relationships, being thrown at them by screens of all sizes. Some of them work relentlessly. They are swimming in debt. They are struggling to attain the same living standards as their parents while striving for perfection in the face of constant changes. Their inner battles are taking a collective toll on their psyche and yet they have to maintain a temperament of having everything under control.
This situation is somewhat similar to the ‘duck syndrome’, a term that means putting up a facade of false ease. Picture a duck floating on water, gliding effortlessly, but below the surface, its duck feet are paddling furiously, violently. Millennials are not any different. It may look like they have it together, but underneath it all, they are pushing frantically and are running out of breath. They are not fighting the world war with guns and bombs, but they are fighting a different kind of war.