Nowadays, millennials and generation Z'ers are more involved in the workforce and starting their careers sooner than later. One of the factors of this may be the fact that technology that has become increasingly more accessible over the years, and with that came the rise of social media platforms. These give us an insight into the lives of others that we necessarily don't need to know about or wouldn't have known about without them posting it on the platform.
Some people post every aspect of their careers and doing this can make us feel like we're behind, that we aren't moving fast enough in the game of life and that if we aren't thriving with thousands of followers, set our Instagram accounts to a business format or use stories to promote our skills that we may feel aren't as good as someone else, that we are failing. So what do we do? We take on everything possible.
"We" in this case could just mean me since this is something I do often. I've since limited my Instagram stalking but months ago, I would spend hours a day scrolling through my feed aimlessly doing nothing productive. All I would get out of my scrolling binge is feelings of dissatisfaction with myself, and my work ethic.
"This person just got their dream internship and they're only a sophomore."
"Wow, they made their first short film in high school and its nominated??"
"She's 23 and already has her own web series."
These are all thoughts that go through my head and their success does inspire me at times- but what did it take for them to get to that point? Perhaps endless working. Taking on more jobs and tasks than humanly possible. And yet, they're doing it.
"If they can do it, so can I," is my mentality as I undergo as many things as possible for me to try to catch up to the success of my peers. I've been working since I was 17 and my first job was in retail. From then on I've undergone countless of jobs in various fields- administrative jobs through a temp agency that I'm still involved in, freelance gigs through my township to hone my production skills, as well as a part-time job at a movie theater just because I need more money for better equipment so that I could have a web series at 23 myself- all of these on top of going to school full-time.
To many people, this may seem like a lot. To others, it may be the tip of the iceberg. I know some people who work AND go to school full-time, on top of outside responsibilities such as maybe family obligations, or trying to maintain a social life or the most important and often underrated things: self-care. I have learned the importance of self-care recently and I realized that it isn't something that you just have the time for on your schedule- you have to make the time. Now on top of my regular duties, I had self duties to attend to. This was something I was never used to so I still struggle to find time for myself. But lately, my body has been reminding me whether I like it or not, to take a break.
I thought it was just feeling "tired," but this was a whole new level of tiredness. It's a complete shut-down, like performing a force shutdown on a computer or laptop. That's what I relate it to. This feeling of intense exhaustion to the point of near collapse is called burnout. I have heard the term before, but didn't really know what it meant until I experienced it. It got to a point in which I had to go to the hospital. The burnout was not the only cause of my hospitalization, I had mental and physical health conditions that were not attended to prior to it. However, because of the burnout, I realized that I was doing too much and I was not okay.
I just kept going. Despite my body feeling as if it was hanging by a thread, that I could fall asleep for days at any moment, I ignored all the signs of exhaustion and kept going. It took drastic circumstances for me to take the actions necessary to get my life back on track and we as young adults and innovators shouldn't have to get to such a drastic point to realize that we need a break. Just because we're doing the most, doesn't mean we are at peak productivity.
In fact, studies show that if we do take 5-15 minute breaks in between our assignments, whether school-related or personal, we'll be more alert and productive. Plus, our performance quality will increase too. It's not always about just getting the job done, but doing that job/task at the best of our ability.
Sometimes we feel as if we need a life vacation... a break from the hustle, from people in general. I remember feeling like this a few days ago. I love keeping myself busy but I had once again given myself too much to do and not enough time to take breaks. And this doesn't just go for things related to advancing in my career. I was extremely socially exhausted in this case. By my third day of socialization, I had just wanted to go to my room, curl up under the covers, and escape into the world of Hulu, Youtube or Netflix.
That was the only activity I had the energy for... until I fell asleep by force of my body's exhaustion. I think that's what a lot of us in this generation tend to do as well. We think if we are tired beyond belief or have only gotten to eat one meal a day, then we're working hard, giving 110% and we're gonna get ahead of the game. But really all we're doing is setting ourselves up for a huge collapse that may set us even further back than we think. It's time to stop wearing exhaustion as a badge of honor. Instead, we need to use it as an indicator of when to pause, take a breath and live instead of merely exist in the busy world around us.