Why Millennials Are The Most Stressed Generation Right Now
A friend recently brought to my attention a study in which Millennials reported the highest stress level of any generation. At first, I was kind of sceptical since, on the surface, our generation seems to have things far easier than our parents ever did. For example, I’ve heard multiple stories from older people about how they were forced to work gruelling part time jobs or live in meagre accommodations in order to make ends meet during college. In contrast, most of my college friends had significant financial help from their parents and certainly didn’t have to worry about how they’d pay tuition next semester.
Nonetheless, after giving it more thought, I realized that Millennials are burdened by certain types of stress that weren’t even relevant to previous generations. For example, almost every friend I’ve known has experienced some kind of existential crisis in college where they questioned if they were truly passionate about what they were studying and where it would all lead in the future. Many of my peers even confided in me that they felt depressed and overwhelmed for months at a time due to all the decisions looming ahead of them. The bottom line is that while Millennials have more doors open to them than any other generation yet this sense of “freedom” ends up being both a blessing and a curse.
Our generation is unique in that we’ve always been told we can do anything. From an early age, we’ve been told to follow our dreams, study what interests us and pursue a career we are passionate about. However, this notion of choice sometimes end up being a significant burden at times. It ends up making us feel that something is wrong unless we are completely in love with it. This notion is probably responsible for Millennial’s reputation for being indecisive and not being able to commit to a specific job or program. For example, I’m sure we’ve all known that one college friend who switched majors multiple times because they had a bad experience in one course and then concluded the program wasn’t the right fit for them. The reality is that we should not be deluded by idealistic visions of having a perfect job or college schedule that we absolutely love going to everyday. No matter what door one chooses there will always be challenges to overcome.
Furthermore, Millennials are slowly beginning to realize that times have changed and we want different things than our parents did. For example, I know that for my parents, just graduating college and acquiring a decent job was a major accomplishment and undoubtedly something to be proud of. For them, stability was their main concern because they came from unstable backgrounds — even having a steady office job to go to every day was a huge step forwards. But, for most of my friends, graduating college doesn’t provide us with the same sense of fulfillment — it’s merely something we are expected to do. As such, it’s no surprise then that most Millennials find themselves wanting more out of college and traditional 9–5 jobs despite the fact that our parents would have relished such opportunities. Most Millennials struggle with the fact that despite what we’ve been told, the world is not here to cater to our needs and society views certain skills as more valuable than others. I’m certain that this conflict between doing what we enjoy and doing what society values is a large part of the contribution to the stress levels of Millennials.
Ultimately, we need to define success on our own terms as opposed to what society is telling us or what worked for our parents. For some, it might be the case that a steady 9–5 job is what makes them content but others might find more happiness starting their own business or creating a product. The point here is that since our generation has a plethora of choices at our fingertips we need to carefully think about where we want to go or else we’ll just end up wandering around aimlessly and never feel satisfied
In conclusion, every generation has its own challenges that are distinct from the previous ones. For Millennials, the main source of our stress is due to the high expectations we have placed on ourselves due to the limitless choices around us. However, we need to understand that the grass is not always greener. There will always be obstacles present no matter what decisions we make and we should not always change paths at the first sign of difficulty. Instead of feeling anxious about all the choices ahead of us, we should be grateful that we even have so many options available and think carefully about what is truly worth pursuing.