Calling all stressed-out millennials that never learned how to set boundaries
A bit of background: I grew up in the 90s, got my university diploma in the 2010s, and started working one day after my graduation. I lived through dial-up internet, one-peso-per-text messaging and still memorize our (now defunct) landline number. Yeah, I know what it’s like to work an office email simultaneously with a fax machine. I am, to cut it short, a born and bred millennial who remembers the old world and can keep up with the new one (at least for now).
You’d think knowing the old and embracing the new would work to my generation’s favor, but it just doesn’t seem like the case.
Millennial hustle, hustle, hustle
As a millennial, I know the benefits of a sideline. It’s usually quick, straightforward and pretty good money. The thing is, I also know that sidelines don’t pay you 12 months of the year. So what do we do? We do both, mixing sidelines with our corporate jobs in the hope of getting the best of both worlds: a steady income for the steady bills, and the occasional project that pays for the “fun stuff.”
The result? Some nine hours dedicated to one company, an extra three hours for another, and the last hour or two of the day for eating, hopefully bathing and falling asleep to a series we swear we’ve been dying to watch.
The death of passions
Because everything can be sold, it gets difficult to differentiate and draw the line between work brain and life brain. Passion points can be monetized, so why not sell our knowledge to the highest bidder? We’ve learned to be frugal and to dig deep for sought after pieces, so why not start an online business? It wouldn’t hurt, and you think you aren’t losing anything because it’s just something that you “already do.” And then we wake up six months later with a little extra cash in our bank accounts, but that same fire that kept us alive is already dying.
Digital is now the enemy
While the digital world comes with multiple benefits—movies, music, series, the world’s knowledge at our fingertips—we cannot deny the fact that it’s also the reason for our burn out. We witnessed the world embrace digital, and we transformed right along with it. Our hands and eyes, as the joke goes, are glued to our screens.
But our penchant for connectivity means that our work emails and messaging apps are everywhere: on every device and the notifications are always on. I don’t know about you, but I miss those first years of work when work hours meant work calls on a landline; they couldn’t get to you as easily after 5PM.
Millennial in this pandemic
For almost three years, it has been about the pandemic—but can you blame us? Working from home used to be a privilege, but with it being the norm now, the hours have blurred. When you weren’t at your desk in the office, that meant you were in a meeting, on your break or you had gone home. But now that we can’t physically see each other. We’re going through the motions not just with our own work hours, but everyone else’s. A boss that starts at 8AM, another that works until 9PM and a colleague that has lunch on their desk? Guess you work from 8AM to 9PM, and have lunch at your desk now, too.
The truth about the “best” of two worlds
But if I’m being honest. My real gripe—and I might speak for most of the millennial generation here—is that we know how important it is to show face. How to be there, to do more, and to have answers. We also know that the real deal should be measured solely by our output. Our older peers put valid importance into relationship building, but our younger colleagues are right that once you’ve delivered, nothing else needs to be provided; you pay for a service and nothing more than that service deserves a place on the table. The millennial generation is right in the middle of this career shift. We see both sides of the coin being pulled into both directions.
It sucks, but what can we do? We can’t choose sides because we are in the middle. We are the filter between one generation and the next, we are the transition phase. As a millennial, I know what my problem is in the workplace, but I cannot alter an entire generation’s thinking. If my boss tells me to show up for no other reason than showing up, I will show up. And if those that report to me ask to be dismissed early because they’ve already delivered the day’s tasks, then I let them.
Ask any millennial. They will definitely tell you the same. We are of two worlds, and while they each have their merit, being the “in between” is not all it’s cracked up to be.
Art Alexandra Lara