By Tess Brigham (CNBC)
Let me start by saying that I never expected to be a “millennial therapist” when I entered the field of psychotherapy 10 years ago.
But five years into practicing, I began to notice an influx of millennials seeking my help. Now, 90% of my patients are between the ages of 23 and 38. (The rest are mostly parents of millennials.)
As a Gen X’er, I’ve heard all the millennial stereotypes — they’re lazy, entitled, self-centered, oversensitive and unprepared. But after studying and getting to know them, what I found was a rising generation of smart and highly ambitious individuals.
They’re empathetic, diverse and eager to make a social impact. But there are also many anxieties that hold them back.
The biggest millennial complaint
On any given day, a handful of millennials will come into my office and express their most pressing concerns: “I’m worried I’ll never make enough money to retire.” “I feel like a failure.” “I don’t know if I’m setting up my adult life the right way.”
But the complaint they bring up the most? “I have too many choices and I can’t decide what to do. What if I make the wrong choice?”
Yes, decision fatigue is a real thing, especially in today’s world, where we are overloaded with information and have an immense pressure to succeed. There are so many big life decisions to make — who to marry, what career path to take, where to live, how to manage our money — and so many options.
While having an abundance of choices might sound appealing, studies have found that it often causes us to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
In modern “emerging adulthood” — a term that psychology professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett defines as “the period between the ages of 18 and 25 when many directions remain possible and very little about the future has been decided” — delayed choices ultimately leads to confusion about one’s identity and purpose in life.