What does it mean to burn out? Burning out is a term used to explain a period of time where an individual is exhausted and loses motivation for their job, schooling, and other activities. I didn’t think that such a thing could affect me, but it did. I was naïve, I took a plate that was too full, too heavy, for me to handle. I took on school, the honors program, writing, working 24+ hours a week, and still managed to have a social life. But for what?

Earlier this week I noticed that I was more overwhelmed than usual. I have an anxiety disorder so I initially dismissed my symptoms as that, but I was wrong. I was panicky, nauseous, exhausted and felt extremely depressed. So depressed and unmotivated that I didn’t care to do my work or watch TV or do anything for that matter. I wanted to lay in bed and be untouched. I felt horrible, more horrible than I had ever felt before and for the first time in my life, I asked for help. I sent my advisor at school an email. She agreed to meet with me and I carried on the rest of the week as best as I could.

When I met with my advisor she had me explain to her how I was feeling. I told her I was unmotivated, that I was angry and irritable and I told her I was exhausted. Beyond exhausted. She looked at me and I could tell that she was concerned. I continued to talk to her about my week until she eventually looked at me and said, “Well, of course you feel this way, you’re burning out.”

When she said that I swear I felt like my heart had stopped. When I think of someone burning out I think of a middle aged man or woman who has worked at the same job for years. Most of these thoughts are based on the countless movies I’ve watched, but still, I never associate burning out with a freshman in college. It felt kind of bad to hear her say that. I felt as if I was doing something wrong because in my opinion, I wasn’t doing too much in my life. In fact, I thought I wasn’t doing enough.

My advisor quickly explained that it’s normal to burn out, no matter what age you’re at and the more I look into it, the more I realize she’s right. Burning out is fine. You have so much going on in your life and it’s normal to be exhausted. Most importantly, it’s okay to be exhausted. I know that they say that life will stop for no one but if you need a break, take it. At the end of the day, your health is the most important thing and you cannot succeed if you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted. Burning out is a horrible feeling to endure, so if you feel like life continues to take your breath away, stop and take a breather and reignite your flame.