The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: burnout, daily stress and anxiety, stressors.

Goodreads Rating: 3.5 Stars

Review:

Following up her January 2019 Buzzfeed article, Petersen delved into what she has dubbed millennial burnout- a phenomenon that describes the feeling of being overwhelmed by “always on” behavior and under high pressure/ low reward expectations. Petersen described how she felt as if she should always be working, doing, creating… and yet sometimes even the simplest tasks would fall to the wayside because she struggled to unfreeze from the paralysis of having to actually do them. And before you start to think that I’m being facetious- I’m not, because finally someone explained exactly how I feel.

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Let me just freestyle here for a minute. I’m 28, and I fall into the millennial category. I work two jobs, one seasonally part-time, one full-time. I work odd jobs to help cover miscellaneous expenses. I am in debt- school loans, mortgage, car payment- and I live paycheck to paycheck. I have family, friends, a social life. I have a social media account (and some multiple accounts) across over a dozen platforms. I am attached to my cell phone and laptop. I have three email accounts for work, personal, and blogging. This is my life.

I have always been a busy woman, and I pride myself on my ability to juggle it all. However, I get the feeling of being always on. And, this isn’t even everything I have to do on the daily- there’s so many minute tasks like laundry, and taking photos for the blog, and adding that book to this list, and and and… it gets overwhelming. There is so much to do, and I am one person. I can easily see how others can get burned out, and I sure as hell feel like I’m dangling on the cliff of it myself. And that’s coming from someone who hasn’t been diagnosed with anxiety or any sort of imbalance- it’s just the “normal” pressure of my day to day life.

When I saw this audiobook on Audible as a free exclusive, I had to give it a listen. Even though it’s a short six hour audio, Petersen gets into her personal struggles with burnout, and then interviews five other millennials in the same boat. Each one has interesting perspectives on how they have attempted to face their burnout, but also acknowledge the difficulties in changing their situations, and how individualistic each situation is.

The audio formatting is great, and almost feels closer to a podcast than an audiobook. I’m always a fan of nonfiction audiobooks that sound more conversational than scripted. Petersen aimed (successfully, in my opinion) to capture multiple perspectives and influences in each of her interviewees, so the reader feels like they get to hear many sides of the story, rather than hearing the same thing from five different people. It’s engaging, and as I said, there were many points that I found accurate and applicable to my own situation.

Although I think this is a great starting point for conversation, I do have to say I wish they had done more comparatives to other generations, because what I often see is disregard for anything associated with millennials- which means there is a broad audience out there who are just telling those mentioned in the audiobook to “buck up.” Six hours of audio is a strong start, but we need to get some statistical evidence, and not just interviewee examples, as to the legitimacy of millennial burnout. Petersen could have dug deeper for evidentiary support, and created a stronger, more compelling case. This could certainly be a task too big for Petersen, or just any given author- I’m not suggesting it’s a simple fix. However, if we’re giving an audience this kind of audiobook, we need to at least make sure it’s backed up by facts.

Published: October 3, 2019

Publisher: Audible Original

TL/DR: The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Petersen is an audiobook focused on discussing millennial burnout.

Read it? Yes, give it a listen if you think you are struggling with burnout- or skip it and read the original article.

Recommend it? Because it’s a free audiobook, yes I recommend you give it a listen, and think of it as an extended podcast.

Buy it? No. It’s not a compelling enough audiobook to consider it as a reference necessary of purchasing.

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Categories: Book Review, Culture, Nonfiction, Self Help

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2 replies

  1. I image each generation can point to its unique stressors! My 93 year old mom has shared about the hard physical work she experienced when she was younger growing up on a farm (wringer washers and hauling bath water for example!)….and the depression etc. it would be interesting to highlight different generations and what they feel are the greatest stressors! Vietnam Nam and the draft was a huge stressor for my generation!

    • Exactly! I imagine the further back we go generationally, we’ll see that the biggest stressors lean towards physical stressors rather than creative stressors, but no matter what generation, survival and safety continue to be a constant. I think it could be a very interesting study, if there isn’t already research being done.

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