• The Good: Interesting interviewees
  • The Bad: Anecdotal evidence
  • The Literary: References previously published article

In early 2019,  writer Anne Helen Petersen published an essay diagnosing “millennial burnout”. Instead of a burnout that ends in a dramatic life change, this type of burnout exhibits as a chronic state of stress and exhaustion. This new audiobook reads like a podcast in which Peterson interviews five millennials in diverse situations about their relationship with burnout.

In addition to talking about her own personal life, she speaks with Kevin, a veteran working in social work, Kate, a first generation college student with around $100k in student loan debt, Haley and Evette, two writers in the media industry, and John, a pastor leading a new type of Baptist church. Every interviewee has a different relationship to burnout and the seemingly unending struggles they face.

Kevin, in particular, contrasts his current burnout with his previous life as an active-duty marine, as well as the year-long hospital stay and physical therapy he endured after coming into contact with an IED. Following military orders and then learning to walk again were difficult on many levels, but he had one singular purpose, and never felt so un-burned out.

The primary reasons given for this new form of burnout include debt, social media, and the blurring boundaries between professional and personal lives because of technology. Millennials are constantly trying to optimize for efficiency, whether by meal prepping for the week, finding a second job, or treating self-care as a checklist item.

As an older millennial myself, I only connect with some of the explanations for burnout, but certainly some ideas resonate, including the idea of project-managing my personal life and occasionally disconnecting from work. The experiences of the interviewees are both varied but also narrow, since they all seem to be of similar socioeconomic status and live in the US. Most of all, the book’s conclusions and remedies are nonexistent. We’ve already heard the advice to put the phone down and go for a walk.

Recommended as interesting slice of life for anyone who is already feeling burned out and wants some company!