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Gen Z speaks: Work-life balance and what it means for me.

I’m 19 years old and I’m trying to understand what work-life balance means for me.

I don’t really have the answers, because let’s face it. I’m young and I still have a long way to go. But I think the struggles that I have now is what many Gen Zs like me are going through.

It’s not even just work. School is intense.

I come from a typical Singaporean family: I went to a neighbourhood primary school and secondary school and now I’m in my last year at Republic Polytechnic.

I have big dreams; I want to be a journalist in our little red dot, the kind that brings change and shares stories that touch people’s lives.

But my whole life, I never had a single person telling me that I could do it. Everyone just says:  “You have to be the best to make it.”

What do they mean by “the best”? And when would I know when I’ve made it?

I don’t. But I don’t want to lose out.

So I work. As hard as I can, to be the best I can be.

Yet, little by little, I realise that I’m losing myself.

So here are some thoughts from a Gen Z who’s trying to find some balance in her life.

Making priorities

In our hustle, should we prioritise people or prioritise things?

Neither. We should prioritise ourselves.

We are more than a piece of paper listing our educational achievements. We are more than the role we play in an organisation.

Perhaps I don’t have any right to say this because I’m just starting out in a world of adulting.

But the mindset that “the work I do defines me” seems silly to me.

I look at the workaholics in my life and I don’t see happiness. I don’t see them get satisfaction or take pride in what they do.

Yet, I find myself following in these footsteps; I’m chasing after the generations of “zombies” that came before me.

But I don’t want to be like that.

@wealthlock Only 2 people you need to make proud 🙏 #motivationalclip #inspirational #makeyourselfproud #beproudofwhoyouare #lifequotes ♬ original sound – Christopher Claflin

Will we be the generation that gets to see things change for the better? Or will we just be like the generation before us?

I don’t have the answer to that. My only answer is: I want to be me.

We look for validation in things we do, but the only validation anyone ever needs is your own: Be proud of you.

To other Gen Zs, don’t feel bad about prioritising ourselves. It is not selfish to care for yourself.

Finding self-care

Me-time is important.

Self care can come in any form: Feeling the sun on your skin, taking a nap, watching a movie or doing something you love, like dancing or even cooking.

@wehave_time I want to make this a little series inspo from @jonnneh #fyp #foryou #thatgirlaesthetic #selfdevelopment #spiritualtiktok #selfcare ♬ original sound – vee

It’s not about being anti-social. It’s about recharging your social batteries — finding time to rest without having to justify it to someone.

Ever since the pandemic started, the lack of outside contact has shrunk our capacity to socialise.

@supp3rlon “⚠️” watch out, man is havin a #stepup ♬ Conceited (There’s Something About Remy) – Remy Ma

Thanks to Covid, many Gen Zs have missed out on parties and clubbing. We have become a generation used to social distancing. So we tend to be comfortable to spending more time by ourselves.

Sometimes that’s all we need to recharge.

Controlling our working hours

@jwg_01Can someone enlightened me, what is die?? 😂♬ original sound – The Goh Sisters 🐕

I worked part-time after my O levels. It was the start of the pandemic and I was working at a local supermarket chain.

According to the Ministry of Manpower, the maximum number of hours worked in a week is 44 hours. But it doesn’t apply to managers or executives.

While line workers like me had legal protection, my manager was working six or seven days from 6am to 8pm. I was always reminding her to rest but she couldn’t.

She was in her mid 30s then.

Now I realise that I have family and friends telling me to rest and not overwork — what goes around, comes around!

Working overtime should be the exception rather than the norm. Even if you are not covered by law, write it down somewhere so you can remember: Get some rest!

Or as my editor would say, “get a life”.

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To fellow Gen Zs, I know it is a tough time and we are all hustling for our own reasons.

Some of us might still be in school, and we are already stressed out.

Just know your limits. Please don’t feel bad taking a breather once in a while.

It’s okay to let loose. It’s okay to want to live your life.

Learning to say “no”

@tassilly #reminder #foryou #text #message #mentalhealthmatters #sendthistoafriend #sign #mentalhealth ♬ original sound – &lt/3

Many of us are raised to be people pleasers; ‘no’ is unconsciously forbidden.

We’re taught to complete our job and manage our time. If you can take up extra work, even better.

I get it. It’s hard to say ‘no’.

But we should. For our own sake.

Just because we get notified when an email or a text arrives, doesn’t mean we have to answer it straightaway. Smartphones should make our work easier, not harder.

Know when to respond. Protect your weekends and after-work hours.

As an intern, I still get super excited when I get an email notification. I feel important. But even I have to know my limits.

Stop reading emails when you can’t see the sun anymore!

“Work smart, not hard”

@josieanasngwe only had time for 1 try before our grab came so… 🥲❤️♬ angel baby slowed – xxtristanxo

I’ve heard this phrase so many times that I grunt in annoyance when an older adult says it to me.

It can be frustrating when an older person pretends they understand exactly what you feel. Another pet peeve? When they say “back in my day…”, I instantaneously tune them out.

Sure, a voice of experience and sound advice does help. But when given in a patronising or condescending tone, it does nothing but frustrate a person.

Also, people learn differently. And different generations find alternative solutions to a problem.

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Gen Zs use the term ‘fast game’ to describe doing something efficiently and swiftly.

So we’ll fast game finish work so that we can go catch the latest movie.

Of course, we still want to do our work as effectively as possible. You can fast game all you want; it doesn’t matter if the work is of poor quality.

We will work smart and hard. It’s both.

I think many older people think of Gen Zs as not understanding that life can be hard. The word “entitled” tends to crop up a lot when I share my thoughts with older friends and family members.

I disagree. I think Gen Zs do know that life is hard. I just think that we aren’t fully convinced that it must be that way, or that the older generations’ solutions should be our solutions.

We are finding our way to live our lives the best we know how.

Please be patient with us as we do that.

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