There’s still some eraser left

A few days ago, Anne Helen Petersen published an in-depth analysis of millennial work mentality on BuzzFeed News. It’s well worth the read, but if you’re not in the mood, one of its major points is that my generation has been conditioned to optimized to be efficient at work. That’s our goal, how we’ll get ahead: The more efficient we are, the better off we’ll be. That’s the promise.

The breakdown comes when our efficiency doesn’t pay off – “Yet the more work we do, the more efficient we’ve proven ourselves to be, the worse our jobs become: lower pay, worse benefits, less job security.” Or, alternatively, when the things we have to do don’t seem to have enough of a benefit to justify doing: “The payoff from completing them is too small.” Especially when efficiency is the goal, it’s hard to see the point in doing things that don’t have any tangible benefit. This all adds up to burnout. That’s a dramatic oversimplification of everything, of course, and you should go read the article, but that at least gives you an idea of what I’m going to respond to.

I don’t like to make excuses for my shortcomings or faults, though, and to be honest, I was borderline skeptical of the article until I saw this picture of a pencil stub and instantly thought, “Why are they using this picture? There’s still plenty of usable eraser there.”

To be clear: That’s absurd.

I don’t have any more answers than the author herself does. I think doing things you genuinely love, that make you happy, instead of things that are “supposed to” make you happy. Know that it’s easy for something to go from making you happy to it just being an empty ritual. I don’t know what else.

But that pencil is used up. It’s okay to get a new one.