A stable sense of self across time makes life meaningful; it allows us to experience and transmit a sense of “authenticity.” But this stable, authentic self tends to be represented as the means to its own end: You achieve a self by being yourself and finding yourself. This tautology sets us up for failure, and for the endless labor of trying to express and realize ourselves. Sociologist Alain Ehrenberg (in a passage Byung-Chul Han quotes in The Burnout Society) links this burden with the rise of depression as a mental illness: “Depression began its ascent when the disciplinary model for behaviors, the rules of authority and observance of taboos that gave social classes as well as both sexes a specific destiny, broke against norms that invited us to undertake personal initiative by enjoining us to be ourselves … The depressed individual is unable to measure up; he is tired of having to become himself.”