On any given day in her office, San Francisco-based therapist Tara Griffithhears millennials wonder aloud: Is this it? Am I failing at being an adult? How did my parents have it all figured out by this age?
“The messaging they’ve grown up with ― ‘Go to college and you’ll land yourself a great career,’ ‘You’ve always been a hard worker. Just do what you love and you’ll be successful,’ ― is at odds with their reality,” she said. “Feelings of disillusionment and being ‘stuck’ arise.”
Below, Griffith and other therapists share the most most common concerns they hear from patients in their 20s and 30s, and the advice they give them.
They may have gotten into top-tier colleges and landed decent-paying jobs at tech startups, but many millennials still doubt their self-worth and ability to make a decision. When it comes time to make the next big move in their life ― leaving their job for a new one one or taking a relationship to the next level, for instance ― they struggle to make the call.
“As much as we want to know which decisions will make us the most happy, fulfilled and confident in life, we can only do our best to tune into what it is that we want and go after our passions,” she said.
Many millennials are overeager to impress and feel a deep sense of guilt when they say no.
Parents also have high expectations for their children, which has led them to become adults who do not want to disappointment anyone.
“Use cheat phrases, such as ‘I don’t know if I can commit to this, but I’ll let you know next week,’” she said. “It’s a small way to begin asserting yourself and becoming more comfortable with saying no. Practice makes perfect.”
No, millennials aren’t blowing their cash on avocado toast and trendy restaurants. Instead, they’re freaking out and wondering if they’ll ever really feel financially secure.
This is, after all, the generation that’s been hit hardest by the 2008 recession and student debt, and the reality is that internships and freelancing may be the only way to pay the bills for a while.
Many millennials feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of terrible news in the headlines, said Rachel Kazez, a Chicago therapist and founder of All Along, a program that helps people understand mental health and find therapy. They’re especially concerned about inequality and the state of the environment, she said.
Millennials have grown up in a comparison culture and endlessly wonder if their real lives ― the ones lived off social media.
“For millennials struggling with self-consciousness, and by extension self-worth, I strongly recommend reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown to begin a journey towards wholehearted living.”
According to the American Psychological Association, millennials experience more stress and are less able to manage it than any other generation before them.
“We begin helping them gain control of their worries by reframing the problem. Anxiety is the physical manifestation of fear and worry, and millennials have zero to little experience managing all that’s coming at them from every angle,” she said. “In therapy, I remind them they can get through it.”