Under 25, they burned - The360 Lifestyle

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  • Sunday, December 1, 2019

    Under 25, they burned

    Under 25, they burned

    Burnout, which neither France nor the WHO still fully recognizes as an occupational disease, seems to be reserved for adults. However, young graduates like high school girls collapse, exhausted by the schedules which overflow since childhood and by the obligation of performance. 


    On paper, Alexia had everything. "I was the Parisian who lives in London, with a buyer's CDI at Asos, a very decent salary for a 25 year old girl, a lover, a great roommate and friends." Graduate of the best British fashion schools, with ties to Buenos Aires and Dubai, Alexia was thinking of building a dream life. But here it is: the young woman tells us all this ... from Playa Venao, Panama, where she has been living for a month. At the age of 26, she sent everything to join Selina's marketing department, a network of hostels and coworking spaces spread across Latin America, where she found refuge after three years of psychic distress. Panic attacks, malaise and emergency room visits begin in 2017 in Paris. Just graduated, Alexia is recruited as a buyer by the Merci shop, a fashion and decoration brand with a sharp selection. His days are those of any young Parisian active: a lot of work and a social life that overflows. "It was a constant stress," she explains. I did not even have time to think, to know if it was really what I wanted. I felt like I was emptied. Six months later, the young woman went to London and was hired by the ready-to-wear giant Asos. But the horizon is just as blocked on the other side of the Channel. "I imagined it would be my life for the next ten years," she says. Be on the lookout for a promotion, wait for my 200 € annual increase, always find the same people in the same places... I was suffocating."

    Lost illusions

    Alexia is not an isolated case. "Young employees who are subject to burnout are full of hope and projects that are not always realistic," says sociologist Marc Loriol, a CNRS researcher and author of several books on suffering at work. The first professional experiences are a kind of period of adjustment to the real world. A world where profitability prevails and where means are lacking, far from the dreams of a passionate young twenty-one. Some digest the disappointment and adapt to their business. Others, convinced that they can change things and that their job is worth it, are over-investing in their work. And the mechanism starts: exhaustion, collapse of self-esteem, withdrawal, depression. The immediate environment plays a role in this infernal cycle. The young recruits rub shoulders with older colleagues who, they, have posed healthy limits to their personal and professional investment. And who have neither the time nor the desire to guide newcomers into the company's jungle. Not to mention that, in the labor market, the rules of the game have changed significantly. Who still spends ten, twenty or thirty years in the same company? Working hard at ungrateful tasks no longer guarantees an interesting evolution or a job for life. "As soon as they arrive in the business, or almost, young people are told that they must develop their employability to find work elsewhere, says Marc Loriol. They are under a lot of pressure. "

    A dangerous marathon

    For the psychologist and neurobiologist Béatrice Millêtre, author of Burn-out of the children: and if they were asked too much?, "those who crack at 25 or 30 are those who have never been listened to, who have not been given the opportunity to be themselves". Children considered bad pupils and directed from the start to short courses or, conversely, first class pushed to the most demanding sectors without them having a real say. This is what happened to Louise, a young journalist, as a teenager. She is a good student and pushed by her parents to exploit her full potential. "They aimed at the royal road: a preparatory class, Sciences Po and a school of journalism recognized," says the young woman. Louise multiplies options, private lessons and outdoor activities, under the watchful eye of her parents. Those who do not see or do not want to see that their daughter is isolated, becomes angry, insomniac and in a word, unhappy. After the baccalaureate, Louise goes into prep and then gets off two licenses head-on. "At this time, I sink into the depression but I hang with the pressure that we put the teachers. "She ends up getting the precious sesame: the entry into a school of journalism. But she is at the end of her strength and sinking into depression for good. "I was unable to get up and provide the work I needed," she says. The finish line passed, the body and the spirit of Louise decompensate. More goal to reach, more next step. Anguish-which, by force, had become an engine-is no longer there to keep it going at all costs. The young woman made five suicide attempts. Since then, despite repeated sick leave, she has managed to finish her apprenticeship in a writing and to graduate. "But I am regularly obliged to rest," sighs Louise. It takes a long time to climb the slope."

    8-year-old children exposed to burnout

    Like Louise, a quarter of students risk burnout, according to a study conducted by the Smerep, the administrator body of the Student Social Security, in 2018. But their malaise has older roots. A high school student or a cracking student is actually exhausted from not knowing who he is, or what he aspires to ... from a very young age. These questions emerge very early in the child, from elementary school. Immediately crushed by the simultaneous awareness that adults are expecting something from him. But what ? What does it mean to be up to it? And above all, how to achieve it? This is what mobilizes his energy. A 2014 Unicef ​​study of more than 11,000 minors aged 6 to 18 reveals that nearly 40% of them are in psychological distress, and 45% feel anxious about not doing well enough at home. school. This is enough to make some of them flinch in primary school. "Those who burnout very early are sensitive children who want to do well but who, at some point, do not understand what is expected of them," says Béatrice Millêtre. Like a child who has good grades, but to whom the teachers would blame a lack of participation in class. Or an average student who would need to revise his lessons, but who would have been enrolled by his parents in three sports clubs and two music lessons. On all fronts at once, the child gets tired from day to day. "I see real little business leaders coming in," says child psychiatrist Gisèle George. 10-year-old patients who tell me "you do not realize, I have lots of things to do, I have a lot of evaluations that I must have 20/20, in addition I have to shout at my brother in the morning because he's always late, etc. To free themselves from this stress, some children would need to learn to take care of themselves, without a defined framework or objective to achieve. "From an early age, you have to encourage them to play with three pieces of wood," says psychologist Béatrice Millêtre. These moments allow them to discover who they are and how they work, without any pressure of any kind. At their own pace, in short."

    The obsession with the useful

    But here it is: parents and teachers are under a lot of pressure, which affects the younger ones. In 2015, an Ipsos survey revealed that 87% of respondents believe that their children are one day more likely to experience poverty than they were for their generation, even - and this is new - in the classroom. socio-economic wealth. 55% even think that this risk is much greater. "This insecurity explains a requirement for increased success. Being a "good parent" today means having a child who has found a job and will not be unemployed, "says child psychiatrist Gisèle George. It is also to allow his child to pretend to the most beautiful careers, in a hostile world where the places are expensive and the future, uncertain. Every minute counts. After school, the evenings are filled with piano lessons, judo training or swimming. On Wednesday afternoons, it is a private lesson of Mandarin and, on Saturday, a volleyball match. The child is asked to perform: he is there neither to relax nor quite to have fun but to acquire the taste of effort, perseverance and team spirit. If not, how could he succeed in life?

    "Where does this terrible competition come out of school!" Exclaims Béatrice Millêtre. Parents are constantly comparing themselves, as if it were mandatory for children to do six activities in kindergarten. In her Paris office, the psychologist welcomes patients aged 8 to 15 years. "They are first of all victims of nervous exhaustion: they do not sleep, have tears in their eyes and are irritable," she explains. Then, when they crack, it turns to depression and suicidal cravings. To make a burnout is like breaking a leg: there is a before and after. If they are persuaded to do well, the parents she receives sometimes forget to ask a few simple questions. Would they bear the fast pace they impose on their child? What is a 20/20 worth of forceps to a depressed child? And if "doing well", it was also - first? - help children feel good about themselves, let them breathe?

    The fear of failure

    For if some children need to be pushed, others must learn to protect themselves, including themselves. Like Jeanne, a lawyer of 24 years. In high school, this brilliant student works from 8 to 22 hours. "I had decided, alone, that not having the mention Very good Bac will be a failure," she says. His parents, worried about his excessive efforts, encourage him to get off his feet. In vain. Her diploma and mention in her pocket, Jeanne starts a double degree in law and languages. Again, she is gripped by the fear of failing. The young woman works tirelessly and turns a blind eye to her psychological distress. "I cried from morning to night, sleep was my only refuge," she says. It is an accumulation: you do not realize that you are bad so you continue, until you can not do more. After two months, she is no longer able to go to class and consults a doctor. "He told me that what I had was like depression related to overwork," says Jeanne. She is prescribed three months of antidepressants and a week of rest. At the end of the first semester, the young woman is up and ... major promo. But his main victory is to have learned to maintain a balance. What if we taught this at school?

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