WHY MILLENNIAL WOMEN (AND MEN!) ARE BURNING OUT BY 30
Some of you may have seen the article which I was featured on on news.com.au this week, talking about Millennial women burning out before 30.
Let's just say it was bit of a shock when I saw that I was the main story; I honestly thought I was just contributing my experience of my work/life balance last year to a story that was already written.
So you can imagine my shock when friends started messaging me having seen me on the news feed, and on the very front of the website. I feel like I needed to explain in my own words how I feel, as I was certainly miss quoted and made to sound like someone who was struggling to keep up with her "social diary". For those who know me, you'll know how I cringe at the sound of those words.
Here goes.. I feel like there has been a huge shift in the way that we work and the type of pressures that are present compared to mine and my parents generation. When my Dad entered the workforce up until not that long ago, when he left the office; that was it. Work was done until the next morning. Now I'm not saying that he didn't think about work, or feel stressed by the pressures of his job, but he was able to get home and gather his thoughts before going back the next day.
Today, that's very different. I by no means think that this has anything to do with gender. Both men and women my age are dealing with the pressures of being available 24/7. We live in a connected world where social media plays a huge role in many companies day to day functioning and the pressure to keep up to date is always there. People expect to be replied to almost instantly, and receiving emails past 10pm is the norm for many people.
My "burning out" experience last year was a culmination of some very stressful years prior. We had been through cancer after my boyfriend was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma when we first arrived in Australia. Cancer is never easy, and at the age of 24 and 26 we were thrown in the deep end. We got through it, and were given this incredible opportunity to come back to Oz. The UK was in a terrible recession, Kris got offered an amazing job, and I had the chance to really accelerate my career in an amazing company; so we thought why not!
Eventually, my stresses and work place pressure came from what many young people feel which is to try and be good at everything. You want to prove so much that you can do it. You come from a generation thats up to its eyes in student debt, a crippling realisation that you may not ever own your own house, and to top it off, the internet is covered with beautiful people who seem to have it together.. but you don't.
I worked hard in my job - really hard - and I chose to do that. Both Kris and I put work first, it effected our relationship, our moods and motivation. Last year I suffered with a number of illnesses and the doctor assured me it was all down to stress, and I thought to myself, WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!
Unlike many of the pretty nasty comments I've tried not to read once the article went live, I'm not a little princess who didn't know what hard work was. I'm an educated woman, who for years after uni did every free placement, shitty little job, moved cities, then moved continents to get ahead in the world. I left everything I knew to go for it! Like many people of my Dad's age, if you stuck with a company for 10 years you could pretty much guarantee a good wage increase, a few promotions and a pretty healthy pension at the end. Something that feels almost non-existent to those now under 30.
After everything we went through with Kris's illness, we promised we wouldn't let life pass us by. We would do everything that we wanted to do, but on the countdown for the new year I felt sick with disappointment that in 2015 we had done the exact opposite. So to the trolls who thought I was being precious, I was merely wanting to improve my life. I needed a change. I didn't want to dread Monday mornings for the rest of my life, feeling tired and working on a capped salary.
I had an incredible job, one that I am very thankful for and know that so many would have loved. I got to meet amazing people, travel the country and learn a considerable amount. But the stresses of work and life got too much for me, and as so many comments I've seen on the article have said, my life is and has been different to yours. I sincerely admire the stresses you talk of, I find it incredible that you have 3 kids by 30, have an amazing career and you're keeping it together. To you who's worked in your high stress job for 40 years, again that's a challenge you've chosen. If we're forever comparing who's the most hard done by, we miss out on giving people the support they need.
Neither do I want this to sound like some lucky, privilidged white girl moaning about my life. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to choose my life choices. I know that this will never be possible for many men and women around the world, and this is why we should embrace the fact that we are allowed to choose. When faced with illness you really appriciate how lucky you are, life passes by so quickly and so if it's making you unhappy, and you have the choice to change it; do it!
This isn't a story about women, but men as well, and young people as a whole. The values of our parents (of owning a house, a good car, getting married etc) are still very present in our society, and have not yet been adjusted to the circumstances that face young people.
So here I am, writing a blog on my website, a business I have recently started because I decided to make a positive change. It's scary, exciting and fun. I want to live on my terms, let the work stresses be from my own business and empower other women (and men) to use the outdoors as a release for their day to day stress. Nature heals everything!
If you got this far down the post then thank you (and well done!) for taking the time to read my response.
If you'd like to read the original article, you can here