Being a young person starting out in your career is not a fun time. There’s the constant worry, wondering if you’ve even picked the right field, and the changing economic climate making job security less certain to contend with.
Although this quarter-life crisis concept has been around for a really long time, the millennial generation seems to be feeling the Job Fear the most, and one writer and economist for The Harvard Business Review has a few ideas as to why the career struggle truly is so real.
Emerson Csorba conducted a series of interviews with twentysomethings across the UK and came across one common theme among all of them.
This makes sense, as due to our constant connection to a digital world where we can see what others are achieving anytime we want, it has become even easier to experience feelings of inadequacy when it comes to our careers, (and life in general).
Csorba identified three root causes that contribute to this toxic comparative culture.
False representations of success on social media.
Young people feel pressure to keep up with peers on social media platforms who broadcast their accomplishments on social media (see your friend on Instagram who documents her shopping haul with every pay rise).
Media stories of exceptionally successful young people.
We’ve all read them. Some 18-year-old toddler has successfully created a startup health food company that has been bought up by Mark Zuckerberg himself for millions while you’re wondering if you have any ketchup to make your plain pasta more appetising.
Remember, a lot of people who are documented as supersonic successes are often well-connected, and usually have either worked hard for years without media attention or had a little financial help from the bank of Mum and Dad.
The sheer amount of choice young people face when it comes to choosing a career.
The number of different career paths this generation can take is massive, and can seem daunting to young people, particularly those who subscribe to the theory of ‘achieving your potential’. How do you know what choice is the right one? Are you wasting your time? Do you have a tension headache right now?
So what do we do, you ask?
Reflect on the hobbies and particular interests you have as an individual. Maybe you are creative, or good at languages. The skills and talents that are unique to you will resurface over time, and keep you grounded.
Look at your career in the long-term rather than short. People don’t seem to realise that in this fast pace world, but most successful careers are built over decades. So breathe a little bit.
Embrace being alone. Disconnect from your devices for a little while every day to allow you time to decompress, reflect and contemplate the big questions. The snap stories will still be there in an hour when you get back.