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Many Millennials 'Can't Even' Find Their Footing In Adulthood

In her new book, Anne Helen Petersen explores why Millennials are barraged with work, still broke and 'Can't Even' with Boomers.
Posted at 6:10 PM, Sep 24, 2020

Millennials — perhaps you've felt that you "can't even."

You could be trying to remember a time when you could, but you just can't. 

Tasks like run errands, pay bills, find hobbies — why should millennials do those things when they can reflect on the system that's preventing a generation from achieving adult milestones and the ability to feel authentic joy about the future?

You see — if you're a millennial and relating to this, you could be familiar with burnout. And, Anne Helen Petersen knows all about it. 

Petersen wrote that Buzzfeed article about burnout that likely got shared across your entire office because, like, it us. 

Her new book, "Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation" gives a language to the precarity millennials are living through. 

Petersen spoke with Newsy's Cody LaGrow to discuss how some millennials became brokemore anxious and depressed in the pandemic and why the book calls for sweeping change. 

"We are one of the richest nations in the world, and everyone I know is overworked, exhausted and scared. So, there's something broken," shared Petersen. 

The Atlantic said "Millennials Don't Stand a Chance." Student loan debt is an enormous burden. The number of young adults living with their parents rose to levels not seen since the Great Depression era. And, the coronavirus pandemic is the second financial crisis millennials have endured.

"I think of the pandemic as this great clarifier. It's like someone has a black light that they're shining on all of the things about our society that we had managed to hide or to pretend weren't a problem," explained Petersen.

She went on, "Something as simple as getting unemployment insurance. That has always been a huge problem for millions of Americans. But, we haven't thought of it as a societal problem because somehow it's not affecting enough Americans."

"Now, the question is, are we going to actually address those huge cracks in the foundation or are we going to continue to try to do this patchwork of incremental nothingness?" wondered Petersen. 

"Can't Even" unpacks burnout birthed by college cost, being a person of color and society's toxic relationship with smart phones. Ultimately, it leads Petersen to deduce that the American dream is a myth for millennials, but they have a chance to escape their nightmare if they work together.

"You can't fix your personal burnout until we fix societal burnout, and that means fixing it for everyone," explained Petersen. "I think that right now, we have capitalism that is largely unregulated. So, when you regulate capitalism, you can make it a more humane capitalism."

Petersen describes her book as a language for millennials — putting words to their worries. The goal?

Petersen said, "Hopefully, I think that it will lead to places of change and small revolution."