by Clare Coffey Read the Original
It is often assumed that personal struggles can be blamed on the systems of capitalism, but this ignores the individual experiences of those suffering. We cannot rely on a political program to relieve us from our burdens and must instead take responsibility for our own lives. We should strive to make our own choices and not be afraid to pursue a career, devote ourselves to a cause, or play the meritocratic game. Life is ours to live and it won't wait for permission from others, so we must take action and live it ourselves.
- Personal problems cannot be excused away as political ones.
- Don't rely on a political program to relieve you from struggling with life.
- Take responsibility for your actions and strive for a better life.
- Don't let fear stop you from pursuing a career, devoting yourself to a cause, or playing the meritocratic game.
- Take action and live life yourself, without waiting for permission from others.
- Summary Notes
- Key Learnings
- The Personal Is Political: A Hollow Excuse?
- The Collective 'We' of Millennial Burnout
- Taking Responsibility in a Broken World
- Overcome Fear to Live a Good Life
- Take Charge of Your Life!
The Personal Is Political: A Hollow Excuse?
"The personal is political" is often used to explain away personal problems as political ones, excusing those who invoke it from dealing with their personal issues. Capitalism is used as a catch-all explanation, but this fails to address the underlying causes of our struggles. “Capitalism is the reason we sometimes tie our identities to material status objects.” We are often driven by the pressures of our socio-economic systems to prioritize material goods over personal growth. This can lead to a reliance on external factors instead of taking responsibility and striving for a better life.
The Collective 'We' of Millennial Burnout
Anne Helen Petersen's writings on burnout and exhaustion have presented a picture of millennials as overwhelmed and unable to cope with modern life. This is a cross-class phenomenon, but the personal experiences of those suffering vary widely. However, it is often collapsed into a collective "we" by culture writers, requiring the subsuming of individual pain into a larger social problem. “'Why aren’t I working more quickly, doing more?' thinks the capitalist part of my brain.” Capitalism can lead to a mentality of feeling inadequate and unproductive unless fulfilling certain obligations and expectations. This can lead to a fear of taking action and pursuing our own goals, instead of waiting for permission from others.
Taking Responsibility in a Broken World
We can't rely on a political program to release us from having to do more than we can handle. We must take responsibility for our actions and strive for a better life even in a "broken" world. Otherwise, we risk being excused from revolutionary action and a life of honor. "We compartmentalized the stress and ongoing trauma, flattening it into something survivable, but we nonetheless ate it for breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. We swam in that stress. We slept in it. We swallowed it in gulps. We lived through it, and we told ourselves stories of resilience, because what other choice did we have." Stress is often unavoidable and can consume us, but we must find ways to cope and keep going, even if it seems like the only option.
Overcome Fear to Live a Good Life
We may be overwhelmed by the expectations of life and the difficulty of making our own choices, but we should strive to make those choices anyway, whether it be pursuing a career, devoting ourselves to a cause, or just playing the meritocratic game. Don't let fear keep us from living a good life. "It’s wishful thinking to believe that those anxiety levels will be collectively reduced once the election is over." Political events and socio-economic issues cannot be used as a crutch to avoid addressing personal problems.
Take Charge of Your Life!
Life is yours to live and it won't wait for you. Don't wait for permission from others, take action and live it yourself. “Poke it a few more times, give it a bit more language to understand itself, and it might, might begin to understand itself as an early, bewildered, form of a movement.” Even the smallest acts of resistance can have big implications when done collectively.