Take charge and listen to your inner voice
You’re staring at your desk at work, the clock strikes 6PM. It’s time to leave that chair you’ve been sitting on for the last 8 hours and make your way through the local rush hour traffic. A frenzy of thoughts occurs to you as you are stuck behind a chaotic bus: When’s the next Poya day? Is this gonna be another sleepless night? Do I really need to cook? Am I finally getting that promotion? But of course, these overbearing thoughts are just a daily occurrence in the life of a Lankan millennial woman.
For some, the term ‘millennial’ has now become synonymous with a flurry of negative stereotypes. Others might say it’s an over-used buzzword that reflects the struggles of those 25-to-30-something-year-old’s who are simply trying to navigate their way through life. But why is it that this word has become such a taboo, especially for women?
Most young women find themselves held down by the chains of sexism, ageism, racism and outright misogyny. We feel a sort of internalised pressure to keep working all the time and it is this pressure that culminates in a ‘burnout’. With the oldest of this generation now entering their 40s, millennial women are struggling to “find their footing in a knowledge-based economy” says D’Vaughn Bell, a prominent author, healer and businessman.
Finding a way out of these conundrums seems futile, yet, here we are, blazing a trail, breaking the chains, and paving the way for the age of the Sri Lankan female millennial. It’s time you hopped on this bandwagon and here’s how…
Make an escape list
That’s right, an escape list. This could be a mental or even physical list of things you need/ desire to escape a toxic situation. Don’t feel the need to pressure yourself into following strict long-term goals, even if this means taking the ultimate plunge and changing departments, moving offices, getting a new manager or even just finding a new job. A home environment that leaves you feeling overwhelmed more often than not may also be a sign that you’re on the crux of a ‘burnout’. So, take that day off and go get those stilettos you’ve been dying to wear, embark on that spontaneous solo trip ‘round the island, or indulge in some much-needed self-detox (after all, we are a country known for its Ayurveda).
Change the status quo
Millennial women are making empowerment their mission…and how, you may ask? They’re taking control in their male-centric workspaces. In jobs that are completely dominated by men, you’ll find women challenging their positions and pushing for higher paying and more senior level roles shattering the glass ceiling as they go. You can follow suit and change the status quo of your work dynamic. Start with baby steps. Declan Wilson, author of The Millennial way: Embrace the Generation Y Mindset to Navigate Any Career Change, primarily focuses on the millennial generation and states, instead of thinking “one day I want to…” think “today I am”.
Family and career can be complementary, not mutually exclusive
It is a well-known fact that as a Sri Lankan woman, there comes a time when “marriage” and “children” become the ONLY words that needs to matter. This shouldn’t mean that you totally disregard your burning ambition and dedicate yourself to a life of nappies, cooking and cleaning. Dr. Dulini Fernando, an associate professor at the Warwick Business School, said that many female careerists in Sri Lanka are socially endorsed for prioritising motherhood over paid work. Likewise, we can all relate to those conversations our aunties, grand-aunties, and, distant relatives from halfway across the globe, have with us to “find a nice boy” and “quickly start a family”. It’s time to reinvent the job description. You get to decide what you want and when, even if that means not wanting to have kids at all.
Get a side hustle
Can you feel it? That burgeoning feeling of utter dissatisfaction with your job? especially if it requires you to stare at a screen for 8 hours a day Know that you can manifest this sense of self-satisfaction elsewhere. Whether it be baking, starting up a small online business or taking up that mixed martial arts course, make this the space that might not necessarily pay you monetarily, but will definitely give you the satisfaction and self-respect you deserve.
Don’t hold back in fear of what others might say, think or do. Part of learning to let go is releasing judgment. So, if you wanna dance under the heavy tropical Lankan rain, or start a no strings attached relationship or become financially independent from your parents, then release judgement and go for it. This isn’t a mid-life crisis, just a grand wake-up call.
The fun part of being a confused, directionless millennial? You have the freedom to switch directions. This includes changing your lifestyle and work ethic even if it’s one of those make-it-or-break-it moments. You don’t have to have your life totally mapped out by your 30s. All things considered, these aren’t really mistakes, are they? just happy little accidents.
Make that ‘have it all attitude’ a ‘try it all’ attitude
Today’s ever-changing and flexible times can give you a space to forge a nonlinear life path instead of simply feeling compelled to create a ‘forced life’ like our predecessors (baby boomers and generation x). Statistics suggest that 96% of millennial women globally see independence as their most important life goal. This includes relaxation, traveling, focusing on personal dreams and hobbies. According to a study by Manpower Group 39% of working millennials worldwide would take time off to focus on these things. Don’t simply limit yourself to the dichotomy of work and home; know your worth, then add tax by trying different things that would increase value in your life.
Look at it this way, these so-called struggles are a blessing in disguise. A sign telling you to make your escape and that it’s time to go out there and show the world that you’re a force to be reckoned with in this millennial revolution. Which begs the question, debt-ridden, unmarried, idealistic, ambitious. What’s your truism?
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