millennial women. burning out. by 30.

Here’s a link to an interesting article from Forbes.com about millennial women in the workplace. I saw this pop up all over Facebook and Twitter and spark some uncomfortably comfortable conversations. The overwhelming consensus was that this hits a bit too close to home, and we should probably find some sort of answer. [Don’t worry – as soon as I finish this post I’ll begin work on a solution.]

It’s going to 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 type-casting women into condescending categories. Instead of looking at the root causes of scenarios like women not advancing into upper management roles, I fear these articles often perpetuate negative stereotypes.

This sentence appears in the second paragraph: “A growing number of young professional women who seem to “have it all” are burning out at work before they reach 30.”

It’s an interesting thought, but I’d first like to know what’s included in “it all,” and how “burning out” is defined. Here’s what I think:

1. You can ever have “it all.” If you did, you’d most certainly die of complacency rather than burn out.
2. There’s unfair societal pressure for women to devote themselves to a successful career OR a happy marriage OR having a nice home OR social causes OR motherhood (and we’re supposed to be thin, too). It’s inferred that by choosing one thing over the other, we’re missing out on something. Skimming the surface of the holy grail “it all”.
3. I hope I’m not alone here, but I burn out about once every three or four weeks. It’s life, and it’s a crappy feeling, but learning  to navigate through these experiences is what propels me forward, more equipped to handle it better the next time.

Here’s another interesting quote from the article: “Many [women] also didn’t think of their lives beyond landing the initial first job. “They need to learn life is a marathon, not a sprint,” says Kelly Cutrone. If you ever watched The Hills (don’t lie) you’ll recognize the author – she was definitely not someone I see myself taking advice from – because she was scary as hell.

“Even those who did plot out their lives past the initial first career [be still my heart, women with foresight?!] have unrealistic expectations about full-time employment. It’s not as if these women expected their jobs to be parties and good times, but many underestimated the actual day-to-day drudgery.” Um, yeah. Who didn’t? I had an internship in college where all I did was fold t-shirts in a closet. Unless you work for Google or Zappos, it’s safe to assume there are a few mundane moments in your week.

Again – I think this article brings up a critical point. 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. It’s stressful and demanding, but it doesn’t leave us crying for sympathy. It might make us tired, and sometimes we need a break. But if there’s ever an assumption we won’t succeed, think again.

Feedback to this article sparked a response from the author you can see here. It seems more than a few of us have opinions on the issue.

 

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