‘Inside Out 2' adds ennui to its cast of emotions: How the feeling affects Gen Z workers, from a psychologist who worked on the film

Courtesy: 2024 Disney | Pixar

Last weekend, "Inside Out 2" scored the second biggest box office release for any animated movie. In it, Riley Anderson, a 13-year-old girl, grapples with the discomfort of becoming a teenager.

Along with the five emotions featured in the first installment of the Pixar movie — joy, sadness, anger, fear, disgust — creators added four new feelings that are meant to represent the adolescent experience.

Three of them you've probably heard of: anxiety, envy, embarrassment. The fourth, called ennui, is perhaps a little less familiar. Animated as a moody, purple being with bangs, it is the feeling of being both tired and bored.

Lisa Damour, a psychologist who worked on "Inside Out 2," says ennui is a coping mechanism for teens.

"It is true that one of the ways that teenagers manage the unrelenting intensity of the emotional experience of being a teenager is they find ways to disengage totally, to decide things are too 'basic' to be worthy of their consideration," Damour says.

While this emotion is more consuming as a teenager, it can play a role in the lives of young adults who are transitioning from school into the workforce.

Your first job can feel like 'a letdown'

Viral TikToks of twenty-somethings upset they have to work everyday have been met with both judgment and empathy. The feeling of being disappointed by your first job, though, isn't new.

"It's long been the case that one's first job, especially if one is very limited in one's options, can feel like a bit of a letdown," Damour says.

Some might feel like their school work was more challenging or rewarding than their internship.

"A lot of young people's early career days can feel quite tedious and they can feel trapped in a job," she says. "I have definitely seen young adults struggle with the transition from a more engaging time in life in college to what can feel like a much less gratifying professional life or early phase in one's career."

What Damour hopes "Inside Out 2" communicates is that it's natural to feel unenthused about some of life's less stimulating experiences.

"There are aspects in early career work that are quite boring and I think the lesson of 'Inside Out' is this is a normal emotion," she says. "And just because it's uncomfortable doesn't mean it's pathological."

Your summer internship after college probably won't be the most exciting part of your career, and that's OK.

Like other emotions associated teens, Ennui is often softened by time.

"One of the things that comes with age is perspective and coming to terms with one's choices and ones options and also learning to derive satisfaction from one's life, even if that means starting to really savor what are everyday pleasures," she says.

Your first job is being weighed against nothing in terms of satisfaction. But, as you get older you are better able to identify which experiences are truly terrible, and which are just a little boring.

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