Young Woman Discovers How the Working World Works In Epic TikTok Meltdown

tiktok work life balance
Screenshot YouTube : Michael Knowles

As a millennial professional, I have been inundated for the last 15 years with articles, seminars, and tips on mastering “work-life balance.” Even while I was in the United States military as a senior leader, I would get lectured and told to push this concept as a way to make sure we don’t burn ourselves and our people out.

At its most fundamental principle, the idea of work-life balance isn’t new; it’s not even a creation of my generation. Work-life balance has been around since the ancient Stoics.

Seneca once wrote:

“The mind must be given relaxation. It will rise improved and sharper after a good break. Just as rich fields must not be forced…so constant work on the anvil will fracture the force of the mind.”

But the idea of a perfect balance has always been a unicorn, something that can never be completely achieved. Unfortunately, the youngest professionals amongst us are cracking under the reality of what work-life balance means.

Welcome to reality

TikTok is riddled with Gen Z professionals weeping into their camera phones on the immense unyielding pressure they feel living in the real world. Having to get a job, pay their bills, manage their own lives, and do it all over again day after day is something that most of them weren’t aware was a part of adult life.

Many of these young professionals are women, and I can’t help but wonder if they seem to be more apt to spill their over-dramatic feelings on camera due to our inherent biological penchant for expressive emotions or because of the usual unrealistic images of young female adult professional life they’ve been inundated with. As a professional woman who works from home, I always find articles and images on social media of women seemingly just like me looking fabulous in their perfectly coifed, soft-looking home offices, wearing chic loungewear, and looking perfectly rested.

The reality of my professional life is much different than that visage. I often wear professional attire and juggle the demands of my children and home life with online meetings and deadlines in an office that, while clean and organized – doesn’t look like some spa waiting room.

It’s also important to note that I didn’t enter adulthood with a remote job. I spent two decades right out of high school working in the military, where I had to get up early, physically go to a location to work, and, more often than not, come home very late.

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This wasn’t a lifestyle I thought was strange; in fact, it seemed very normal to me…because it was and still is. Being an adult with a job is supposed to be time-consuming.

Being an adult is tiring

The young woman in the TikTok video below is really struggling with the idea of a 40-hour workweek. She says:

“Why is it that I have to work 40 hours a week just so I can have a place to live?”

That question alone is fantastic because, since the dawn of work, it’s been required to work in some capacity for some length of time to afford shelter. Now, as she illustrates in her video, rent is ridiculously high in every city compared to when I was a young professional.

Buying a house right out of college is understandably not a priority for many Zoomers, as it wasn’t for me either, besides the fact that it’s virtually unobtainable for anyone at this point to buy a home regardless of generation. However, her other arguments are just as ridiculous, if not more so.

She goes on to complain:

“Just working makes me so exhausted that I don’t have time either.”

I can identify with that feeling. I worked an average of 72 hours a week or 12-hour days while I was in the military for twenty years, and I can’t remember a day that I didn’t come home from work exhausted.

Now I work 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. My level of exhaustion is significantly diminished from when it was while in uniform.

Still, I feel a sense of mental exertion at the end of the day. That’s because I’ve been working, and working requires exertion.

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Welcome to the club

The young lady continues to explain that she gets off at 5:30 PM and that:

“I’m so tired that, like, anything that I need to do outside of work I then just push off to, like, the weekend and I’m, like, I’m just too tired to do this after work.”

I’m going to be generous with my assumption here that what she “needs” to do outside of work are things like laundry, cleaning the house, and maybe going to night school to get a certification or graduate-level degree. However, I wager she’s referring more to things like exploring her inner child through tantric goat yoga and facing her inner biases through her extensive journaling habit.

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She continues:

“I’ll wait until Saturday, so then I end up with so much to do on the weekend that ends up having to be split into two days. So I have to do stuff on both Saturday and Sunday!”

Imagine if this woman had procreated! Saturday and Sunday are the perfect times to catch up on all the personal and family stuff you can’t get done during the week.

This isn’t new to you, honey; this is called adulthood.

Not made for this

This poor young soul, through tears, says:

“So then I don’t get a day off. I don’t get a day to relax. I don’t get to decompress.”

I can’t imagine having an entire day to “relax.” I’m happy if I get an hour.

She then claims:

“So it is really like working seven days a week constantly.”

No, it’s not. If you want to feel what it’s like to constantly work seven days a week, find your local military recruiter and enlist.

What she is experiencing is a very typical work operational tempo. But it’s the following line that illustrates to her credit her self-awareness:

“I’m not made for this.”

Her parents, teachers, professors, and the cultural lens she’;’s been exposed to via social media are largely to blame. Real life is trying, work is exhaustive, and balance isn’t what she’s been taught.

Balancing work and life is precisely what she described. You spend 40 hours a week working to have the funds and benefits to do life things like bettering yourself professionally and physically and doing the mundane chores of life during all the other hours of the week.

It’s not about those times being equal or spread out the way you wish. Do what the rest of us did and continue to do…wake up earlier, learn to prioritize and multi-task, and pick up a nasty caffeine habit to give you an early evening boost.

Welcome to adulthood, honey; it’s hard because it’s supposed to be. Now stop crying and get back to work.

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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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