I have always been someone who puts too much on their plate… and I mean that in every sense of the phrase. From joining multiple clubs that kept me in school until 6 pm every day while I was in high school, to filling my salad bowl with way too much salad at the cafeteria so that I can never seem to finish my food and end up wasting a perfectly good bowl of veggies (I’m not bitter), I seem to have a habit of overdoing it.
This habit of always doing the most has followed me to college. As a freshman finishing up my first year of college, I have overloaded courses during both semesters, been part of copious student groups (six to be exact), acted in a play that rehearsed every day (Monday thru Sunday, baby!), DJ’d my own radio show, and had a job.
Now let’s get one thing clear, I’m not trying to flex about how much I do or give you my entire resume, I’m just trying to drive home a single point: I do a lot.
This knack that I have isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Joining copious clubs has been an excellent way to meet friends and has been a great way of keeping me busy. I also have the chance to further my passions outside of the classroom.
I had always heard of people getting burnt out from doing way too much. Even though my life seems to fit the perfect schema of burn out, I felt like it was something that would never happen to me. I thought that my habit of having long nights that turned into early mornings was normal. I figured I’m in college – nobody sleeps!
But, it wasn’t just my lack of sleep that was a telltale sign of burn out. It was the overwhelming stress that I felt trying to balance everything I had going on at once. In my fall semester, I was able to handle it pretty well. It wasn’t until my spring semester when I decided to join a couple more clubs and take a couple of longer classes that I realized that it was starting to be too much.
Now, here I am, approaching the end of my spring semester. I find myself feeling tired all of the time. I’m stressed about a lot of stupid things. On some days, I find myself unable to complete the simplest tasks. On other days I feel ready to take on the world. I worry about my future, both in terms of the long-term and in terms of what I have due tomorrow.
I want to be clear, this is a pretty small-scale burnout. This is me doing a little bit more than I can handle, which has led me to form some bad habits of not sleeping and stress-procrastinating assignments. While this burnout is small compared to some other ones, it’s still pretty real.
This whole burnout thing hasn’t been so bad, on the contrary! While being burnt out sucks, it has given me a newfound perspective I never would have gained otherwise. It has also taught me a lot about myself. For starters, I have learned the importance of being honest with both yourself and those around you.
This process has also helped me to see the things that I really truly care about. I have learned the value that my time holds and realized that I have the power to control where I spend it.
Finally, this burnout has shown me my limits. I know where the line is and I definitely know not to cross it again.
If you feel way too stressed, it’s okay to take a break. Here’s the hard truth that I’ve come to learn – it’s okay to quit (shocker, I know!). If you find that you’ve taken a class that is WAY harder than you thought it was going to be, or you find that you don’t care about a club that you joined at the beginning of the semester, it’s okay to take a step back and admit that you can’t do it anymore. Trust me, you’ll be thankful that you did it later.