Virgil Abloh is Going Through a Burnout and You Might Be Next

Millennial burnout is about to be an epidemic


How many IG profiles have you come across boasting lengthy (and often self-ascribed) titles like influencer/creative director/DJ/photographer? Too many to count. 

Virgil Abloh, most millennial creatives’ career idol and a serial slasher (someone who is known to juggle multiple job titles at once), is officially the first high profile case of millennial burnout. This should serve as a poignant red flag for his countless followers. 

As Louis Vuitton’s menswear art director, designer (and CEO) of Off-White, global DJ, contemporary artist, architect and board member of the CFDA (and someone who takes eight international flights per week), Abloh has been forced to take a serious step back from his work commitments for the next three months.

In an interview with Vogue, Abloh said he was simply “just tired”, so he went to the doctor, who explained to him that ‘this pace that you’ve sort of pushed your body—to fly all these miles, do all these different projects—is not good for your health.”

And Abloh is not alone, he joins the tens of millions of millennials who have become known as the ‘Burnout Generation’. Now deemed a chronic condition officially recognised by the World Health Organisation, they’ve defined “burnout” as “a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” 

Needless to say, those of us aged 38 and under are not particularly good at managing ‘workplace stress’. And that’s in large part due to our inexplicable and incessant desire to add as many work titles as possible to our CVs, even if they’re completely unrelated or more importantly – are likely to push us over the edge psychologically and physically.

Our affinity towards slashing isn’t entirely inexplicable. This millennial behaviour pattern is due to the fact that we’re the poorest generation yet. As writer Anne Helen Petersen put it in her widely-shared piece for BuzzFeed ‘How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation, “Financially speaking, most of us lag far behind where our parents were when they were our age. We have far less saved, far less equity, far less stability, and far, far more student debt.”

And if you think you can’t relate because you don’t fall into the category of poor, you’ve probably been impacted by “the societal and cultural shifts that have shaped the generation,” as Peterson put it. Serial slashing is a distinctly millennial trait and not one that is exclusive to the poor and declining middle class. Case in point: Virgil Abloh. 

For Abloh, there’s a whole team behind him to take on his tasks for him. But for the rest of us, who don’t have entire offices in Milan and Paris to take on our workload, taking mental-health leave can only result in our long list of job titles dwindling to none. Corny as the phrase might be, we’ve collectively got to figure out a way to work smarter, not harder. Work is not, and should not, be our be all and end all. It’s not that serious. 

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