It is a typical Wednesday. Waking up at 6:30 to hit the gym before class. Class from 10-5pm with a 2-hour break in between. Then after class Photography club, then an art seminar, then I work at my campus's recreation center. It is 9 pm before I arrive home sling my bag down on the sofa, eat a quick dinner, and go to bed just to do it all again tomorrow.
Who has been here?
College life is full of opportunity and full of motion. Being in the middle of the hustle and bustle is where I consistently find myself. Odds are, if you classify yourself as an over-achiever, try hard, or go-getter too you probably crave a busy lifestyle too.
Balancing two jobs, an internship, volunteer hours, leadership programs, maintaining a social life, and taking care of yourself is a lot of work. Which explains why anxiety levels are extremely high in young adults enrolled in college.
Every weekend I am working either with freelance photography, homework, school projects, trying to keep my apartment clean, feed myself, or work on of my other jobs. With no breaks in sight, I felt claustrophobic. As much as I thrived on this busy lifestyle, eventually I hit a wall. This wall is also known as a burnout.
Or as Google describes it.
- 1.the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.
- 2.the failure of an electrical device or component through overheating.
Overworked to the point of combustion. Burnout is when you have been pushing yourself too hard. It is like filling up a water balloon. When you fill it up too much there is a point where it explodes spilling water everywhere. It takes longer to put yourself back together after you have already imploded. Think about trying to piece the ballon back together after the burst, rather than turning off water and pouring a little of the water out.
It is okay to lay in bed, sleep in, read a book, go for a walk, eat chocolate, or binge on Netflix. Being ambitious by nature is incredible, but remind yourself that you are human too. Striving for perfection will make you lose your marbles, but striving towards excellence allows for a healthy amount of effort. Push yourself, but remember that you are human, and it is important to treat yourself like one every once in a while.
If you don't believe me, trust me there will come a time when burnout hits so hard it forces you to slow down. If you don't take care of your intrinsic needs and mental health there will come a time where things that used to bring you joy will cause stress. Some of the positions I usually love doing suddenly became a chore because I had too many other responsibilities and thoughts spinning around my brain.
Taking a break doesn't mean you are weak, it means you are strong enough to know your own weaknesses. You can still become that CEO, social worker, photographer, or doctor even if you take breaks. In fact, you might find yourself coming back well rested and ready to take on more challenges after taking some time off.