The need to Find meaning in Work leads to Greater emotional investment
to leverage on their online presence to the benefit of their employers, with the inevitable result that being connected 24/7 comes scarily close to working 24/7.
Viewed in this light, it’s not millennial burnout that’s remarkable; it’s that the majority of millennials manage, at least for now, to mask its telltale symptoms. But as Maria knows, if left unchecked, these red flags accumulate until they can no longer remain under the radar. Eventually, burnout’s symptoms become as glaring as a mink coat at an animal-rights demonstration; its obvious effects spill over from the workplace into personal relationships, self-image, and even physical health.
“’ Tantrum’ is the only word to describe my behavior on the day my boss insisted I take forced leave,” says Maria. “A client cancelled a gig at the last minute, and I totally lost it. I slammed down the phone, screamed a stream of f*cks at the top of my lungs, and didn’t come back for two days. I didn’t care what might happen. I’d stopped caring long ago...and not just about work.”
That’s how burnout begins. “Little by little, you care less and less,” she says. “You stop feeling invested, slowly, until pulling a sickie or being late or not delivering isn’t a biggie. It spread until I didn’t even really care about my friendships, my health—my entire life felt like a senseless chore.” She pauses a moment, checks her phone, smiles at some message notification and says, “I’m lucky. I was so burned out that I threw my name away. But I kept my job—and I still have friends.”