I have always been fascinated by millennials. I mean, I am a millennial but for my entire life, I've heard criticisms of my generation. We're lazy, entitled, anxious, depressed, etc. We are a generation that has inherited a lot of turmoil and has been surrounded by it our entire lives. We are the first generation to not be as well of as our parents. 

We watched thousands of people die on national television when we were kids, can't remember a time before the Iraq war, grew up with the mentality that we can do anything, were always busy, and then inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression. 

How are millennials NOT going to be burnt out, anxious and depressed?

That notion, that millennials are the burnout generation is fascinating and as an entitled, self-centered millennial, I love to get inside the psyche of my peers 

When I saw that this book, "Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation" was being released, I was really excited. It was exactly what I was looking for and the answer to all of my questions. The book was inspired by an article written of the same name, by the same author, in January 2019. 

I remember when the article was released, it took social media by storm. It was eye-opening and jaw-dropping so it wasn't a surprise that Petersen got a book deal out of it.  

The book was published in September 2020 and I immediately bought it. I read and finished it at the beginning of this year so I'm not sure why I haven't written a book review until now. 

Publisher's Summary

Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argue that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of the sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

My Thoughts

This book was like an inside look inside my own head. It was a psychological analysis of our entire generation and why we all are pretty much exactly the same when it comes to work and life. We are, as a generation, severely burnt out, overworked, and don't know how to disconnect.

This book took you through our life, from birth until the pandemic, and examined how we were raised and why we ended up being hardworking, overachievers who are never done hustling. 

It was really eye-opening and made me think a lot about my own upbringing, work ethic, anxiety, and debt. It was like a therapy session, in the best way possible and I'm so grateful for that. This book was a little long and I did feel like some parts were a little unnecessary, but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed every part of this book. 

While it might sound like this book makes excuses for millennial behavior, it doesn't. It gives that tough love approach but with a gentle side that shows that we are a product of our environment. It was just incredible and I felt so seen when I finished reading it. It was very refreshing! 

If you are a millennial and feel like you're spiraling, or deal with anxiety, imposter syndrome, or any other mental illness, you need to read this book. It's like looking into a mirror and has helped me so much. This is a book I will keep forever and continue to read and reference whenever I feel down. 

Would you read this book?
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