1. I am a physical and financial burden to others.
External factors and difficult circumstances both cause millennials to feel like they’re a burden to others (especially to their parents) simply because of the pressure to earn a living by a certain age based on a certain timeline of societal expectations. Millennials who have failed to do this often find it difficult to cope with being seen as immature children who are failing in life after being rejected from countless, typical corporate America jobs and settling for underemployment. If they live at home because rent is unaffordable, they view themselves as a “waste of space” and “always getting in the way.” Because they believe that their entire self-worth centers around being able to be self-sufficient immediately after graduation and making their parents proud for doing so, not accomplishing this causes millennials to feel like a huge burden, which leads to a downward spiral of self-doubt, guilt, and paralyzing fear of the future.
2. I don’t deserve to live because I haven’t found “success” at the age of 23 and I’ve failed too many times (examples include not having a high number of followers on social media, being rejected from jobs, failing to get a certain GPA, and not being able to get out of debt).
Millennials have tremendous amount of pressure to “have it all.” They think they need both a cushy office job with benefits and a very lucrative side hustle that generates high levels of passive income from a significant number of followers (due to a very unpredictable economy). They think that they need to pay off debt right now or else they’re financial failures and destined to be chained to their debt until they die. They also feel pressured to keep up with influencers on social media, their peers, and generally all of the people that they look up to. Not being able to keep up with these people makes them feel worthless because they haven’t been able to succeed at the same things by a certain age. They have a skewed and unrealistic perception of what success is because of highlight reels that constantly remind them of how much others have and how much they are lacking.
3. If I don’t get my shit together today, I never will in the future.
Millennials are obsessed with methodically planning every step of the future with bullet journaling, Google Calendar, an assortment of organizational apps, guided journals, and compulsive list-making. With the rise of highly successful influencers on the Internet, millennials want to catch up with what these successful people are doing with their lives, and while much of their advice can be helpful, millennials with depression feel terrible if they can’t plan out their entire lives in one day or stick to certain good habits that all successful people do starting from day one and continuing to follow through on a consistent basis. Because of their obsession with getting everything put-together on their very first try down to the last bullet point, they get discouraged with themselves and are more prone to giving up, feeling resentful of others who have what they desire most, and building internal resistance, since all aspects of life aren’t meant to be changed in one day and nothing can be expected to change overnight.
4. It’s my own fault that I’m depressed, and I don’t deserve happiness because I’m not good enough.
As a whole, millennials love taking charge of their own lives, propagating their individuality, and focusing on bettering themselves in their own way, often with an attitude that is mocking of previous generations’ standards of excellence. This can unfortunately contribute to self-destruction because millennials often blame themselves for falling short of expectations from their own generation and previous generations. They want to exceed the expectations of their parents and also be better than their peers. Because they believe that their self-worth needs to be proven by external measures of validation, they often beat themselves up and get angry at themselves for not achieving instantaneously high results within a strict timeline. Thus, they equate their own shortcomings with deficiencies in character, which makes them feel like they’ll never be good enough no matter how much effort they put in because of strong social conditioning that influences them to be intolerant of any sort of failure, loss, or rejection.
5. I cannot go after what I want in life because that would make me lazy, spoiled, and entitled, so I need to do everything the hard way.
Millennials who desire to change their lives for the better by forging their own creative career path often struggle with depression because of the way they’ve been raised – they were taught to obey all rules and succeed in conventional paths so that they can earn everything through hard work, discipline, character-building, and the consistent application of willpower. In essence, these set of expectations, external motivations for people’s approval, and life lessons come in conflict with their own desires and quest for purpose and meaning. Millennials with depression often make themselves feel guilty for wanting more than they deserve, so they feel trapped in a life that is totally out of their control and not aligned with their own life orientation – they make themselves work harder than they have to just so they can prove that they are tough, resilient, and able to overcome harsh circumstances, even when it exacerbates their depression and takes a heavy toll on their emotional health. They tell themselves that they can’t go after what they want if they don’t first work hard at something they hate, which they think defines their character and makes them somehow “better” than someone who pursues a dream.
6. My life is a big and catastrophic mess because it doesn’t look like so-and-so’s highlight reel.
Millennials with depression often get trapped in a poisonous web of comparing their own lives to other people’s – they scrutinize every little thing that they find wrong with themselves in contrast with everything that they find right in others based on a curated set of glossy images and eloquent captions, followed by a measurable definition of success, which comes in the form of likes, loves, and follower count. Depressed millennials believe that their lives are unable to be fixed or transformed into something as likable as someone else’s highlight reel because they don’t think they’re organized enough, visually-appealing enough, or interesting enough to be put on such a high pedestal.
7. I’m always letting others down. I’m always letting myself down.
Millennials with depression have unrealistic and high expectations for themselves because they believe that earning the approval of those who have underestimated them will help them feel better and somehow heal from depression – because of this conditional mindset that’s ultimately driven by fear of insufficiency, they think that accomplishing something worthwhile in the eyes of others will make their depression disappear. They also set lofty goals solely for themselves just to prove that they’re capable of making promises to themselves and following through, regardless of how challenging (and downright unrealistic) they may be for the following motivations: the defense of their pride, the internal desire to be in ruthless competition with their past selves, and the obsession with being in control and not letting anyone make them feel inferior.
Because these lies are so ingrained in everyone’s minds and are especially traumatizing and paralyzing for the millennials who have depression, simply telling them to “snap out of it,” “work harder,” “do what your heart tells you to do,” “stop caring what others think,” or “just let go of it,” will not help. These toxic beliefs and damaging lies cannot be undone, completely purged, or extricated by simply meeting external demands. It may take years for these people to heal themselves and finally reconcile their truest desires with their perceived roles in society through very intense cycles of catastrophe, catharsis, creation, destruction, denial, and radical honesty.