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Burnout From a Former 4.0 Student in High School

There was a point in my life when I prided myself on my academic success and prowess. I was the kind of student who would do anything and everything to maintain my grades, from pulling all nighters to excessive studying. I found myself basing my self worth on how I did in school, causing myself to break down because I always felt that I never really amounted to anything if my grades weren’t damn near perfect. I was an honors student who took several AP classes at a time all while doing various volunteer work and extracurricular activities. This is who I was and who I defined myself as.

[bf_image id="qalkyc-7r6oug-752t1r"] Then college happened, specifically college during a global pandemic happened. The world was prioritized with the fear of getting COVID and the increase in the amount of deaths caused by COVID-19 spreading. This fear and concern eventually led to schools being shut down, and in the middle of my senior year, for schooling to switch to  completely remote learning. 

It was at this time that I didn’t know how to feel about school;suddenly the motivation to try hard in school left my body and mind. There was a lacking drive that I have always had, and I no longer knew how to function, but in the end I was able to make it through highschool. That is a different story from my current college experience.

[bf_image id="q59evx-6l1jk8-m2v3d"] The lack of motivation while in college has only intensified, with little to no social interaction and a watered down version of the college experience, I felt myself realizing how much of an”option” college truly is. Why was I really at school? Am I doing what I want in life? I want to be at school and get my degree, but why do I feel so negative about college? 

With all of these questions running through my mind, it hit me: I was facing burnout.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that occurs because one is experiencing stress that has been prolonged. 

It only recently occurred to me that the reason I was so burnt out and felt such an intense lack of motivation to do anything was because of the stress I put myself through in highschool. For 4 years, I worked my butt off to get into a college. Now, facing the reality of my college experience being so drastically different from what  I ever could’ve imagined, my body finally gave up and allowed the final burn out to overcome me. Don’t get me wrong, I still try to keep up with school and I’ve done as much as I can. My work paid off as I was able to get a 4.0 in my first quarter ever in college, but I find myself questioning my intentions much more than I ever have before. I am doubting myself and my choice to come to college in the first place, even when it seems like I am doing just fine in school. Academically I seem strong, but mentally and my attitude towards learning and college have shifted due to my burnout.

[bf_image id="kbv9c9s8445bvzmg3rsr8bgb"] This is a case of burnout I have never faced before, I find myself doubting everything I do, wanting to just drop out and go back home, or just not feeling the motivation to do anything. But the one thing that has kept me from acting on these thoughts, is focusing on my future. The future that I set out to achieve by going to college and getting that degree, and while my burn out is definitely still within me, I am trying everyday to get back to how I once was. It is and has been a journey, but I am learning from myself, taking the time to really focus on just me and my mental health in order to get out of this burnout; taking it one step at a time because burnout and finally getting back to “normal” is a process, one that cannot be rushed.

Jade Zuniga

UC Riverside '24

I am a third-year Psychology major with an Organizational Behavior minor, looking to improve my writing skills. I love listening to music, watching movies, eating and trying different foods, and playing with my cats.
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