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You Are (Not) Your Work

A personal story on Millenial behaviour, mental breakdowns and importance of staying true to yourself.

Being a Millennial is not easy. You have to worry about local & global health, social, economic and environmental issues. Not to mention the constant checking whether you are as authentic as you can possibly be. You are also expected to put self-realization before seeking career in some evil corporation. Thus, freelancing and start-ups are synonyms to millennial lifestyle.

“You are not your work,” they say. “Don’t measure your self-worth by the work you do.” “Be your own boss.” The self-help industry will not let you forget about your “potential to create your own empire.”

My honest, Millennial answer to that is “Thanks but no thanks.” Even though I enjoy creativity, following freelance experts and admiring start-up founders – this is far from how I build my personality and self-esteem.

It is not easy to be a Millennial, who like a good old Baby Boomer, is work-centric. Or like an ancient Traditionalist – super loyal to the company, putting the best effort forward at all times.

Still, like a true youngster I already had worked for multiple companies. So, plenty of opportunities to test if my approach to work is feasible.

Times, when I regretted having such principles:

💣    Being asked to work overtime, switching workdays with colleagues in favor of time with family, holidays, education. Especially, when working in retail and having to write a bachelor thesis in the optometrist’s chair. Really could have handled it better.

💣   Working for a company that doesn’t pay you on time. Even if financial stability is a fundamental human need, I figured that the great work I do is going to feed me. Well, it didn’t.

💣   Having a manipulative boss. Honestly, I admire the person. He was able to use your own words against you, find common enemies and build confidence in lies. Every day for a year I sat depressed at my table, but still producing good results and believing that one day it will change. Well, it didn’t.

💣  Wrecking my mental health. Actually, it was already wrecked by working in the company I mentioned above. Instead of fixing that, I jumped straight into what I believed was my dream job. And while the work itself was perfect fit for me, the environment & my principles pushed me to going to the pharmacy in the middle of the day to buy Persen (if you know, you know).

After having multiple mental breakdowns and even being sick on the bus going to work, I had to give up my attitude. “You are not your work,” – I said to myself and after a couple of months of soul searching, I could finally be excited to immerse myself in new professional adventures.

While I am my work (again), this time I managed to connect myself to the personal (and of course, corporate) purpose so much better. With the Millennial traits in me, I can now relax, switch off the computer on time, have a luxury to think about preventing burn out, grow my own salad on the windowsill, enjoy the craft beer and do other Millennial stuff.

📢 Why am I talking about this? Feeling of belonging is also one of the fundamental needs. Whether it is a corporation or your generation, the tendency is to look for ways to be “one of us”. So, if anyone reading this feels similar in any other situation – you are most likely not alone. Self-help industry actually gets one thing right – your way is the best way. Cause it’s the way you learn on. 

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