30 years ago, the term Burnout had yet to begin its rise.
Tired heroes are getting younger
It seems unlikely, but 30 years ago, the term Burnout had yet to begin its rise.
Overworkedness was called it and it occurred mainly in people in their fifties. And, befitting the times back then, it exclusively affected men. Gladly, at the time, I would have coined the resounding name - weary heroes. A buzzword. Men who worked hard, carried a lot of responsibility and cut the meat on Sundays.
Position in society was their identity, salary their contribution to the family. With the advent of the computer, their prestige faltered. Younger colleagues, fresh out of school, without experience and matching wisdom, frolicked up the ladder of the pecking order. Gone carefully accumulated status, crumbled self-esteem.
The heroes got physical, became ill and a shadow of themselves. Exhausted and tired.
Overworked has a reverse career door run through the ages.
From being under strain to a burnout
Meanwhile, Overworked has a reverse career door run through the ages. After the fifties, he became a frequent guest among forty-somethings, persecutors thirty-somethings, and now he is a child of the twenty-somethings. And in this age of equality, both among men and women. A new time, a new name. And we call him: burnout.
For the new porters, no slogans. Those who didn't make it. Young, promising and burnt out. In a world that offers, as never before, so many opportunities. To so many. And circumstances that are malleable.
Cause I wonder sometimes / About the outcome / Of a still verdictless life / Am I living it right?
- John Mayer.
Quarterlife crisis, or be successful!
At a quarter of your life. Your head filled with possibilities, expectations, choices, opportunities, career. As well as missed opportunities, lost loves and goals not achieved. What is new? It's been this way for ages. Look in life's mouth and jump.
Jumping still happens. Practised no more. There is no playing time. You can make a mistake once. Then you have to stand there. Knowledge is everything, experience suspect. What you need to know comes with the speed of the internet. And is accessible from an early age. It's all about the cloud, stupid. The amount of daily information has increased enormously and is literally incalculable.
When Canadian psychoanalyst Elliott Jacques coined the term quarterlife crisis in the 1960s, it involved an existential struggle.
A question about the meaning of life. Like Benjamin in Mike Nichols' film The Graduate. Those who do not ask themselves this question do themselves and life disservice.
A battle that cannot be won?
Now, however, the term is associated with burnout. At a quarter of your life, already having to give in. Because the battle is unwinnable. Outwardly, everything is fine. Highly educated, nice career, rich social life the future still ahead of you. Inside, there is restlessness, uncertainty, a sense of failure, panic for what has not yet been achieved.
It used to be that having a choice was a luxury, making it an enrichment. Nowadays a loss. Because we have to be able to do everything, now and at the same time. Hesitating, pondering, pondering, taking a moment, not committing yet, can no longer be done. Here are all the opportunities, available to everyone, what are you waiting for? Make the choice. Be successful!
The burden of success?
If you don't succeed, dare to fail!
When success becomes a choice, and being successful a duty, failure is a special way to stop time. And make space.
The burden of success.
And if it doesn't work out? When being successful doesn't make you happy? The excessive flow of information can't be contained? You can't shut yourself off from sky-high expectations? Success becomes climbing a mountain without the right equipment and protective gear. Being successful becomes a choice and obligation. Instead of a reward, later, after the climb. An increasing number of people between the ages of 20 and 30, experience being successful in multiple areas of life, at an early age, as an unbearable burden. It makes them gloomy, anxious, indecisive, passive and gives a great sense of failure and being a failure.
Dare to fail and reap the sweet fruits
When success becomes a choice, and being successful a duty, failing and being unhappy is a special way to stop time. And make space. It takes courage to consider whether succeeding in life makes you happy. Who doesn't want to succeed before the age of 30? Maybe you do. Because you want to take the time to figure out what really makes you happy. Because developing yourself is more valuable than standing there right now. Because you want to know who you really are.
After all, you have three quarters of your life left to reap the sweet fruits of that. And then to wait until they are so ripe that the juice runs down your chin when you eat them.
Ewoud Dekker MSc.