On the Problem of Burnout for First-Generation Professionals Like Me

Jonita Davis
ZORA
Published in
6 min readOct 5, 2021

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The privilege and pain of admitting you need to quit a decent job

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

I recently had an experience where I found myself headed toward burnout fast, and I had to recalculate my life. If I didn’t, I was zipping toward a mental health break and that is not something a mom of six, freelance writer, and wife can manage discretely. A breakdown would have destroyed our reality, especially our finances, for quite some time. My biggest problem was that this burnout was caused by a very toxic work environment, and I did not see it coming.

Burnout is not something that I am accustomed to claiming. This sentiment, I believe, is especially true for first-generation college students (and first generation professionals) like myself. We don’t know what’s the norm! How would we? Ain’t nobody in the family been in our spot before. This makes the phenomenon of burnout more damaging for us.

I was raised to accept any job that paid me to be there every day and to thank God if they kept me longer than a few months.

Photo by Adeolu Eletu on Unsplash

My Burn Out Story

Think about it from my perspective. I am the first person in my family to ever see the inside of a college, much less complete two degrees. Then, I eventually go on to work for an unstable startup. Things are disorganized, informal. I use my experience to stabilize things and rebuild relationships with clients — even adding new ones. Things are fun and going well on the surface.

However, underneath, the cracks began to show. Suddenly, upper management swoops in and wants to micromanage things, adding unnecessary processes and rigid accountability standards. They implement the type of systems that companies turn to after a major fraud…but remember how I said…

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Jonita Davis
ZORA
Writer for

Jonita Davis is a writer, film critic, and professor. She’s a member of NABJ, AAFCA, a Rotten Tomatoes critic, author, DetourXP Columnist.