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Here's Why a Stunning 63% of Americans Under the Age of 42 Feel Burned Out by Adulthood

Here's Why a Stunning 63% of Americans Under the Age of 42 Feel Burned Out by Adulthood

Money woes are the chief concern of todays stressed-out younger people.

A recent survey put out by the insurance company Insuranks uncovered some rather unnerving news: well over half of the members of the Gen Z and Millennial generations are already feeling burned out by life.

Put into numbers, roughly 90 million Americans in today's world are feeling beaten down by life.

What has got so many people in this country feeling so down on life? It turns out that it’s unfortunately a wide variety of factors, and we’ll look at some of the specifics each in its turn.

But first, let’s establish who we’re talking about here.

Putting Millennials and Gen Z Into Context

Generations can never be defined perfectly neatly, and of course, the oldest members of any so-called generation will have more in common with people from the generation above them than with the youngest members of their cohort.

With that in mind, though, note that the Millennial generation (sometimes called Generation Y) is made up of people born between the years 1981 and 1996, per Pew Research. The oldest Millennials are now 42 years of age, while the youngest are in their later 20s. All are then, by all accounts, adults.

Generation Z, of course, includes people born starting in the year 1997 and born through the year 2013. Thus, at the time of this writing, some Gen Zers are technically adults, while many are still inarguably children.

Both generations are comprised of around 72 million people, meaning a combined size of 144 million. This is where we get that number 90 million from, that being 63% of the total, being as, per Insuranks, 63% is the percentage of younger Americans burned out.

Now to what is burning them out, which, simply put, seems to be the very demands of adulthood.

Why is adulthood burning out so many younger adults?

The survey in question included around 1,000 people in total, all from one of the two generations in question. (For reference, according to Great Brook, 200 responses is enough to get a roughly accurate data set, so the fact that 1,000 people chimed in makes this a solid survey.) 

Adulting 1

One key takeaway was that many younger American adults do not competently know how to complete a bevy of tasks often seen as everyday things, and this lack of capability is a source of stress and even shame. These tasks include:

  • Tying a tie
  • Changing a car’s tire
  • Using a grill
  • Changing a diaper
  • Ironing clothing
  • Filing taxes

And there were several other routines “adulting” tasks noted as well. Of course, some tasks were divided along generational lines, with more Millennials knowing how to change a diaper compare with Gen Zers, but still, it’s clear that most younger people feel they are lacking in certain skills perceived as requisite for life.

Even more crushing to the spirit of those surveyed (and to their fellow young Americans, therefore, were financial matters. Of those surveyed, 67% said they had trouble managing money, 49% struggled with saving for retirement, 48% had trouble saving for a home, and on those issues went.

Interpersonal challenges were also top of mind for many respondents, who identified maintaining relationships and dealing with family — especially with aging parents — as pain points in their lives.

Adulting 2

Long story short, there are many reasons that younger Americans are feeling burned out by life these days, and many of them overlap with one another, further compounding the problem.

The “Fallacy of Relative Privation”

Too often people who are struggling or even suffering in life are dismissed by others due to an all-too-common fallacy known as the "Fallacy of Relative Privation." This error in thinking can be summed up as “it could be worse,” as in when someone complains of a headache only to be told by an associate that there are people who are sick and dying, so their headache isn’t actually that serious. This approach dismisses and minimizes real suffering that may be minor compared to death but that is nonetheless real.

When it comes to the burnout so many younger adults are feeling these days, it’s easy to write it off and think things like “people younger than their age fought in World War II” or “other generations lived through the Great Depression or the fears of the Cold War!” Yes, there have been challenges in the past, and there have been times that were objectively “worse” for the American public than the present may be. But does that mean we can simply write off the struggles and stress of young people alive today?

No, not at all — not unless we want to engage in that fallacy of thinking.

How to deal with a sense of burnout?

As so many of the issues that are causing young Americans to feel burned out are caused by a perceived lack of competency, there is always the option to set goals to learn the skills one feels he or she is lacking.

But another approach is to reframe your thinking. Do you have a baby or are you expecting one? If not, then not knowing how to change a diaper is not a problem.

Do you have a place down the street that can change the oil in your car for you? Then learning how to do an oil change is not really a needed life skill. Do you need to wear a tie every day? Then not knowing how to tie one is not a big deal. (Though that one can be learned very fast.)

Perhaps the biggest problem for many people these days, though, is not knowing too little but doing too much.

Far too many of us are spread far too thin between work, our social lives, family, hobbies, and other aspects of our lives. By learning to say no to more things, by compartmentalizing our work life from our personal life, and by making time to take care of ourselves we can better live a life where we feel productive instead of feeling like burnout is just the way of things.

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