Trivial Grievances

Bridie Jabour

Trivial Grievances
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Trivial Grievances

Bridie Jabour

In the last days of 2019, journalist Bridie Jabour wrote a piece for The Guardian about the malaise of 31 year-old millennials and how the painful, protracted end of their adolescence is finally hitting home; they’re hitting their thirties and the vast majority are neither famous, award-winning or rich - and that’s making them miserable.

The article went viral overnight, the response from readers was overwhelming, and Bridie decided the time had come to write a book about her generation - those much-maligned millennials. After all, she reasoned, this generation is coming of age in a fairly unique set of social and economic circumstances, including precarious work, delayed baby-making, rising singledom, a pandemic, a heating planet, loss of religion and increased unstable housing. But much to her surprise, despite her assumption that this generation of 31-year-olds is the most miserable ever, she discovered that wasn’t the whole truth…

Forthright, funny, incisive, provocative and insightful, Trivial Grievances is truly a book for our times, and for every twenty- or thirty-something anxious about their place in the world.

Review

In late 2019, Guardian Australia opinion editor Bridie Jabour wrote a viral article titled ‘The millennials at 31: Welcome to the age of misery’. Jabour wrote it believing the unique social and economic circumstances millennials grew up in have led them to become the most miserable generation ever. When she set about turning the article into a book, however, she discovered that isn’t actually the case. In this essay collection, Trivial Grievances, Jabour explains why, backing up her discoveries with research and interviews with various academics, and mixing cultural critique with observations from her own life.

Within its pages, Jabour discusses differing views on marriage, whether to have children or not and how the pandemic has affected millennials compared to other generations. She deflates the deceptive allure of travel, explaining why it won’t make you a better person. She examines productivity and burnout, arguing that although we feel immense pressure, we don’t actually have to accomplish something every day.

As a 28-year-old, reading this book was often difficult. I saw myself in many examples and was often cringing as I turned each page. Jabour has taken any beliefs I had that I am unique and different and crushed them between the pages of this book. I am no different to my fellow millennials, but I am also no different to my parents’ generation or that of my grandparents or great-grandparents. As someone with a dedicated Instagram account for my books, the point that hit hardest was when Jabour was imagining how her great-grandchildren will react to her posts: ‘Ugh, why did they post photos of books they read back then?’ / ‘They thought it made them look cleverer than they actually were.’

Overall, I was left with some hope as I turned the final pages of this book. Jabour has reminded me to look for the tiny joys in everyday life and to remember that ‘feeling strong negative emotions is the most powerful motive for change’.


Lucie Dess is the marketing assistant at Readings.

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