On Work Ethic and Tiredness
I saw a post this week where capitalism priests were complaining that people are tired of working. I found it hilarious because I have heard this said in many variations, especially from *that* generation, about mine. “Children of nowadays don’t like to work,” they say, “you people are so lazy, all you know how to do is press phone all day.” Or if they’re trying to play nice, they throw “friendly” jabs at Gen-Z, talking about our approach to work, our no-nonsense attitude, and the ease with which we attempt to navigate life, and so on and so forth. It’s never really bothered me when I hear things like that because I understand that conversation is often a product of vast differences. Tall people make jokes about short people, everybody makes jokes about Geminis, and Gen-Xs and Millenials enjoy throwing digs at Gen-Zs. It’s life. I mean we do the same thing sometimes when we talk about the mannerisms of older people, and how they don’t know how to use technology. I don’t know if you guys remember the bants on Twitter last year between millennials and Gen-Z, it was so fun. Good times.
Sometimes though, like yesterday, after a very stressful afternoon in the bank where I was reminded of my Gen-Zness, I think about these things on a deeper level. What do they really mean when they complain that people don’t like to work these days? And that Gen-Zs “don’t like stress?” Is stress something we’re meant to like? I feel like there is so much premium attached to suffering, especially in this country. You hear people exalt others in magnanimous speeches, and the most tangible thing you’d be able to deduce from what they’ve said is how much the person suffered before they succeeded, and how that makes them worthy of praise. If you don’t believe me, observe what men write for their mothers and wives on Mother’s day.
I think this mentality exists because there is a deeply held belief that suffering must be rewarded. It sits comfortably within our skewed perspective of life. “If bad things happen to me, good things must happen to me after,” we think, with a firm nod, waiting for the good to fall into our laps while remaining faithful to our suffering. But life is not a Mount Zion film. Your future does not lie in the hands of a Nollywood film director. The good guy doesn’t always win, and the babe that denied you when you were poor will not be walking on the streets of Lagos while you splash muddy water on her with your Lexus. You are not LayiWasabi. In fact, she would probably be living in Canada with her white husband and fine children that are ‘allergic’ to things. Big corporations are destroying the planet, but I haven’t seen any Forbes list CEO drop dead from a thunder strike. Even if they do, people drop dead every day and we could chalk it up to the rules of natural selection. And so, if you remove the fact that nothing under heaven is guaranteed and you might not receive any reward for bowing your head in servitude, does the suffering remain worth it? Or is it not better to aspire to softness and make decisions that bring you long-term comfort and ease?
I don’t think it’s a bad thing that people are tired of work. I think it is perfectly normal to feel drained living in a world that stews in chaos. We just came out of a global pandemic that affected us all in varying degrees, the economy is in shambles and large corporations are laying off employees like crazy. We live in a country where people get shot at by the government and get missing every day. Boys leave the house with their hearts in their stomachs, and all their finance apps hidden, in case they get stopped by law enforcement officials. Last week, my friend was extorted of so much money after the police went through his phone and discovered that a friend had sent him a skull emoji on whatsapp. A SKULL EMOJI. The universal dfkm sign. Damn. The government thinks women are property, and children can be married under our laws. I think it is crazy that we even pretend everything is normal and go about our daily business when life is indeed a shit show.
More than that, I believe the stereotype is also deeply untrue, and a way to guilt-trip people who are already exhausted to work harder, funding the lives of those who are well up the corporate ladder (and are usually older). Every day, I see a new classmate drop a post on the class group chat announcing a logistics or perfume business. Everyone works in tech now. People in my generation are juggling two to three jobs to survive, along with school. I think it is deplorable that they try to discredit how much effort we have made in trying to keep our heads above water with their commentary on how lazy they think we are.
Our parents didn’t go through all the stress and pressures we have to go through as Gen-Z. They went to school, and when they were done, they got a job. They could buy houses with relative ease, and the economy smiled at their efforts. They also grew up in a time with less mental stress. They were allowed to form their personalities and choose their values outside the influence of social media. For them, ignorance was truly bliss. They might have been pressured to be perceived as one thing or the other, but it was mostly from the neighbour across the street whose father changed cars every year. Now we’re trying to compete with Hyoyeon that lives in South Korea, and the other 5 billion people that think the internet is a safe space. It’s exhausting. There is no escaping it either. Global trends and occurrences, like Facebook’s Meta announcement, show that a digital world is rapidly becoming a reality. I work at a company that exists purely online. We can work and get so much done without ever having to interact in person, so staying plugged in is soooo easy. Algorithms are competing to have our attention 24/7. Have you ever used TikTok? It’s a time trap.
Life is crazy, so if you can, pat yourself on the shoulder. You’re doing well. You may not be where you want to be yet, and you may not even know where you want to be, but you are fighting so many battles right now that getting out of bed every morning is worth celebrating. Don’t let anyone deny your struggles. Being Gen-Z is not something that should make you feel ashamed. You don’t have to smile and pretend everything is okay. Keep speaking back, keep finding smart ways to make life easier for yourself (sha don’t do anything that will land you in jail o). Make your TikToks, wear your crop tops, and leave work once the time is 5 pm. Wanting a stress-free life does not make you a shallow person. It’s okay to protect yourself, and your space. Practice the art of complaining. Silence kills. Be as unapologetically Gen-Z as you can possibly be. And Happy International Youth Day, by the way. I’m rooting for you, always!
On Media I consumed this Week
This week I re-read this article my friend wrote for this year’s Mother’s day. Somehow it ties in with what was discussed in the newsletter this week: learn to celebrate people outside of suffering.
I also read this book about dealing with the guilt of resigning from a workplace. It’s so important if you are a people-pleaser and you get emotionally involved with work. The book is also free!
I listened to a few episodes of the Modern Love Podcast too! In this one, a woman finds the love of her life again after a promise made to each other five years ago. It made me emotional. In this, we realise that love can exist in varying ways, and it doesn’t have to take up space, sometimes it is just fine standing next to a door.
I listened to Lorde’s Solar Power album. It was deeply ridiculed when it came out last year, but it is actually a very good piece of work. It has helped me tackle work this week. Peaceful, inspiring and calm. I also listened to Omah Lay’s Boy Alone album. It’s a thing of great beauty.
I watched Alchemy of Souls. Beyond devastated that there won’t be a new episode this weekend, so I’m rewatching old ones and my, the plot is really amazing!
That’s all I guess. My hair iron stopped working so I’m trying to figure something out. As always, thank you for reading the newsletter. Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the topic discussed this week! Sending you lots of hugs and kissesss! Xoxoxo
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