As the famous Greek dictum goes: “The unexamined life is not worthy living”. Thus, let’s dive right into some facts: Millennials are generation Y, those born from 1980 to 1999. Many of us are in our late 20s and 30s and by sheer force of numbers have incredible societal impact. Why? We comprise 75% of the workforce at the moment. Pretty mind-blowing, right?
It is also said that we enjoyed a much closer relationship with our parents. Baby boomers saw parenting become a serious occupation with the proliferation of baby books. These books often talked about how the early years shaped psychological health and therefore ignited the critical importance of the parent-child relationship. Hence, our parents are often qualified as our “friends” as developmental psychology lit up the “self-help” bookshelves at Barnes and Noble, because e-reader tablets weren’t a thing yet, obviously.
This also spread more individualistic tendencies and a higher level of social responsibility within our generation, with a strong value put on quality of life outside the office. Those values encouraged us to travel, seek novel experiences and foster the art of the side hustle.
Now, enter: the pandemic.
One year into this fiasco and we’re all longing for what “used to be”. Social anxiety has no doubt increased with the lower propensity of IRL dates and diminished instances of being around actual humans. Days spent on Zoom, Facetime, and the like have made us all the more obsessed with looking at our own faces rather than the other person.
Our generation is, by all accounts, burning out.
Call this an overgeneralization, or merely an extrapolation of anecdotal evidence, but having side hustled in PR for 10 years now, I’ve learned that where there’s smoke there’s fire. As such, we’re witnessing millennials and our collective mental health going under siege. Not just by this world health crisis (pandemic fatigue anyone?) nor by the constant onslaught of vax/anti-vax/conspiracies that are permeating our discourse, but by the never-ending influx of information we keep getting shoveled our way.
Plus, reminders that others are still moving forward with life things:
Virtual showers? Check.
Zoom birthday parties? Check.
Drive-by bachelorette parties? Check. Check. Check.
I’ve been anxious for a solid fifteen years now. Times were simpler when I grew up in the 90s, where nostalgia now runs deep for how fondly I remember that era. The angst came later. But with all due respect to my 22-year-old self, although dealing with very real anxiety, it was nothing compared to the complexity of what we’re living right now.
On a micro-level: I’m constantly feeling like I’m lagging behind. My very inexact scientific calculations have resulted in findings that are alarming: 99% of everyone I know is either on one end of the baby spectrum (expecting) or on the other (parent, twice-over). The urgency to get life “going” has never been felt more than right this second. Everything feels like it was due yesterday.
Then again, this just may be my anxiety talking.
Urgency is not just a construct, it’s the reality that despite there being a real-life world health crisis happening, we millennials still have to figure our $H!% out, fast.
Keeping a strong sense of humor, appreciation for irony and doing lots of meditation has taught me that, in reality, we all feel like we should be doing something more:
Let’s all take a breath. More is not more. Can we all stop and smell the proverbial roses? Let’s finally ask ourselves: Why is it that we’re working more hours during this pandemic? Why aren’t we exerting the proper boundaries for our mental wellbeing?
There’s power in less. It’s liberating. It’s simpler. It’s less time and energy consuming. Plus, you’re more likely to stay in that job you love so much if you don’t burn out. Neat, right?
I say we all try and take a really long inbreath, and an even longer outbreath. Slow your pace. Take those few minutes at lunch and go outside. We’re a year into this mess. Give yourself the gift of space. Get actual vitamin D through sunlight and not through a supplement.
For extra points: look up, not at your phone. Don’t worry - Your rsvp to the drive-by surprise birthday can wait.
Alexandra is the Host and Founder of the Anxious Millennial podcast, is obsessed with blueberries, drinks lots of coffee and loves all things chocolate. Season 2 of her podcast is taking off with a 148% increase in listenership. She exclusively interviews the loveliest of humans that have a ton to share on their life and business journey as social media marketers, coaches, business founders, authors, yoga/wellness studio owners, philanthropists, etc.
“GBE was, simply put, the catalyst to this journey. I posted my plan in February of last year to enroll in a Coaching program and boom, a year later I have my very platform, podcast and I am about to finish a gruelling and rewarding coaching certification. The mere fact of sharing my hopes and dreams with the GBE community made me feel accountable and as though the knowledge was public. No turning back now!”
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