Are Millennial Women Burning Out Too Soon?
If we’re supposed to have it all, why do we feel so lousy trying to get “it?”
– Jessica Taylor
The provocative article “Why Millennial Women Are Burning Out At Work By 30” by Larissa Faw was published on Forbes.com recently. I saw mentions of this piece pop up all over Facebook and Twitter. It sparked some pretty heated conversations. The overwhelming consensus was that this hits pretty close to home for a lot of us.
It might sound like I don’t agree with this article–-but that’s not true at all. I think it’s an awesome piece that raises critically relevant points. What I disagree with is grouping women into categories instead of looking at the real causes of issues. I worry that this type of article could perpetuate stereotypes about women by lumping us all together.
It’s hard to nail down everything that this article and many others consider “it all” and what, exactly, equates to a burn out. I think that happiness and success are defined differently for each of us, regardless of how many items we can check off on our accomplishment lists. And as far as burning out goes, I do it once every few weeks! It’s life, and it’s a crappy feeling, but learning to navigate through challenging experiences is what propels us forward, more equipped to handle it next time.
If we look toward famous women who’ve achieved great milestones in their lives, from Hillary Clinton to Oprah, there are still aspects of their lives that people criticize. It’s kind of crazy to think that no matter how much success a woman attains, it’s never enough to deflate all the stereotypes that exist about how we should live our lives. Martha Stewart was someone who many considered to have it all, from her career, to lifestyle and personality, but the pressure to succeed ultimately drove her to the opposite extreme.
I think that you can have an incredibly fulfilling life without achieving all the criteria that some people consider “it all.” The pressure on women to devote themselves to a successful career OR a happy marriage OR having a nice home OR social causes OR motherhood is huge (and we’re supposed to be thin, too). It’s inferred that by choosing one thing over the other, we’re missing out, when in fact, stretching yourself too thin can take the joy out of any of these areas.
Among my circle of friends, some are perfectly happy devoting their lives to their careers. Others would kiss their jobs goodbye in a heartbeat to be able to stay home with their kiddos. And a few are happiest when they’re volunteering, running marathons or at church. So I guess my opinion is that we don’t need to have everything, as long as we have a balance of things that bring us joy and inspiration.
As young women, our parents and mentors want us to achieve everything in the world. It motivates us to seek out challenging careers and engulf ourselves in opportunities. This is hard work, but it doesn’t leave us crying for sympathy. It might push us to the limits, but if there’s ever an assumption we won’t succeed, think again.
Tell us: Do you feel pressured to have it all?
Jessica Taylor is a corporate communications professional in Phoenix, Ariz. Find more of her writing on her blog.