3 min read

Is there a millennial state of mind?

We're at the carnival and we're watching everyone do everything.

I'm going to make a gamble in this newsletter. I will project my own state of mind onto a 'generation', and you tell me if I'm on point, or entirely off the mark.

We're at the carnival, okay? We're standing there in the centre of a world brimming with excitement, joy, despair and everything else. We've started to walk, and we're watching what's happening in one stall after another. We're watching little children playing, watching couples laughing together, watching a father feeding his daughter some candyfloss. We're at the carnival and we're watching everyone do everything.

We fear, at times, that our time at the carnival will be spent watching other people live their lives and we might never get around to living our own. We want to understand what we want from life. We want to make sense of our own emotions, our own ideas, find out who we are. And yet, the spectacle surrounds us at all times, and there seems to be no exit.

We're at the carnival and we're watching everyone do everything.

We get jaded, so we learn to quiet these urges and accept that our lives will be lived inside the carnival. We get on some rides, since that's what everyone else at the carnival seems to be doing. We become experts at muting our internal chaos, and start to find comfort our a bright and shiny world.

There are nights, though, when we're haunted by the feeling that something isn't quite right. We wish we could leave the carnival. We wish we could hear our own voices over all the noise. But what use is it to dream of a world that doesn't exist? We were born inside a carnival, and we must learn to enjoy the ride.

This Week's Recommendation

It seems to me, atleast, that the carnival is the overwhelming reality of my generation, whether that's millennial or Gen-Z. Borrowing these terms specific to the west and applying them to India is complicated, to say the least.

The essay I'm sharing with you today puts its finger on a different aspect of being a millennial: how challenging it is for us to do small chores. It blew up on the internet when it came out in 2019, and was eventually turned into a book. Here's a paragraph that goes straight to my heart:

Burnout and the behaviors and weight that accompany it aren’t, in fact, something we can cure by going on vacation. It’s not limited to workers in acutely high-stress environments. And it’s not a temporary affliction: It’s the millennial condition. It’s our base temperature. It’s our background music. It’s the way things are. It’s our lives.

Here's another, where the author talks about our collective faith that if we only worked enough, it would all work out:

We couldn’t find jobs, or could only find part-time jobs, jobs without benefits, or jobs that were actually multiple side hustles cobbled together into one job. As a result, we moved back home with our parents, we got roommates, we went back to school, we tried to make it work. We were problem solvers, after all — and taught that if we just worked harder, it would work out.

There are more such 'That's so true!' moments in this essay. It helped me contextualize my personal challenges within socio-economic conditions. It's also a much-needed reminder that I'm not alone in what I'm facing. Isn't that what we read and write for, after all? To tell each other that we're not alone?

How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation
I couldn’t figure out why small, straightforward tasks on my to-do list felt so impossible. The answer is both more complex and far simpler than I expected.