The ‘Burnout Generation’ – A Personal ‘Origin Story’

The ‘burnout’ generation, we’re called.

We are the new generation of homo sapiens. We have evolved into creatures characterised by chronic laziness, mindless scrolling and bilious behaviour specifically targeted towards parents and loved ones.

We consistently attempt to battle our deviant evolutionary course with Instagram, parties, ‘me’ time, self-care and ‘guys, let’s go for a break we deserve it’.

This is not a justification for the way we are. This is an origin story, an explanation of how we came to be – albeit with limited understanding and unprovable facts.

We start at the very beginning. The moment I uttered to my parents the three magic words, “I am tired.”

Since then, there has been no turning back. Every day, without fail, I vocalise this emotion. My father has pondered over this statement.

“You need to take Vitamin D.”

“Eat more green leafy vegetables.”

“You don’t even drink water, what are you doing?”

Valid, dearest father. Very valid. But I would like to place another argument. I live in a day and age where there is no proper time for anything. There is no proper time for meals because Swiggy can deliver whenever you want it to. There is no proper time for sleep because Netflix and Amazon Prime attract me like insects to a tube light. And most importantly, communication has no proper time because ‘if I message you on WhatsApp, why aren’t you replying immediately?’

You see dearest father, I am simply adapting to my environment as Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (a French naturalist) had said we all would. I just don’t think the environment is very conducive to beauty sleep and healthy eating.

However, I would like to take responsibility for the water bit. The app on my phone does a terrible job of ensuring my hydration. 

Now to my generational batchmates, my evolutionary amigos, I would like to claim something and say ‘same’ if you agree: we have the need to be consistently ‘on’ all the time. This need is not something provided by exterior stimuli any longer. The exterior has mixed with the interior and created a khichdi of confusion and exhaustion.

And for the life of me, I cannot switch it off.

Also read: Are You Burnt out at Work? Ask Yourself These Four Questions

Imagine this: it’s like there are insects in my stomach (preferably the ones already mentioned above). They buzz constantly, every day – straight up 24/7. During this buzzing, a new WhatsApp message enters my life.

Here is where the insects showcase their wrath. They begin to do a dance of sorts; not the chicken dance but the floss, at high speed. My brain begins to feel lighter, my legs feel weaker and before I know it anxiety is knocking at my door.

“It is the perpetual need and obligation to be ‘on’ that creates a sense of urgency which can never be quelled,” say the insects.

Valid, dearest insects. Very valid.

‘You should help more around the house’, ‘why aren’t you cleaning your room?’, ‘just deliver this to the post office for me please?’

I can’t. I just can’t. Simple acts become difficult. Shifting my clothes piled up on my bed to a cupboard is harder now than it has ever been. Before, it was laziness, now it is denial. Privileged, upper class and burnt out. What a conundrum I find myself in.

Without getting too deep into the social implications of my statement, I would like to ask: dear generational batchmates, what is the solution?

My mind is numb. I fall asleep in cab rides. My work is suffering, my friendships are decaying and clearly my cupboard is in a desolate space. My stomach isn’t going to be as healthy anymore if the insects decide to continue to infest it.

How do we get over this burnout? How do we turn ourselves ‘off’ for a while?

Hey, you know what guys? I have an idea.

‘Let’s go for a break. I think we deserve it.’

Eshna Benegal is a chronic overthinker, amateur writer, passionate dancer and also, she studies filmmaking.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty