Can we be real for a second?
Nothing about burnout is noble or satisfying.
I had that mid-semester burnout a few weeks ago and the resulting meltdown would put the Kardashians to shame. Burnout is basically the time right after you've broken the stress wall and nothing you do is good enough and you can't think straight because you never get enough sleep because you're going and going and going. It's when you feel like you're in that movie scene where the main character is standing in the midst of complete and utter chaos, absolutely without control over the situation. Yet somehow, you are both the main character and the chaos. It's when your knee-jerk answer to "how are you?" is, "exhausted." Burnout is of the devil. And it is also highly overrated.
I don't know about you, but when I used to see a person experiencing burnout, I used to subconsciously think that they were really noble and selfless. Super strong mentally to be able to push themselves to that state. But the older I get and the more acquainted I become with burnout, the more I hate it. Or more importantly, what it turns me into. I start to become irritated by everything (actually vexed, not fake annoyed), I become highly introspective, and my general attitude suffers. What about reaching that point is admirable?
I'll answer for you: nothing. Where did this popular idea come from? That if a person is burnt out then he or she is somehow more responsible or stronger or just better? That puts more pressure on society as a whole. In the U.S., we have bought the concept that in order for our lives to be worth anything, we must push ourselves past that breaking point, that stress wall, and that's how we'll gauge our success. What's logically more noble, in my opinion, is when a person knows his or her limits and builds life up to those. To take on too much at one time so that everything suffers and you're miserable does not display maturity, it actually displays the exact opposite: your immaturity. Acting within your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual limitations is more the behavior of a successful adult. That's not to say of course that there are many adults roaming about who have no clue how this life thing appropriately works. Like I've said before: your maturity does not depend on how boring you get or how long ago you graduated high school.
If you're experiencing burnout this week, or if you do in the near future (because let's be honest, there is no cure for short-sidedness), stop for a minute and take deep breaths. Really. It helps. But also try to cut something our of your schedule (or actually make a schedule). Obviously, something isn't working, or you wouldn't be in this position. But stop making it out to be some noble experience that selfless people are privileged with. Act like an adult and run your own schedule, not the other way around. You'll be happier and more focused, and the people around you will notice that.
Published by Christina Rowland