Caution: Pandemic Burnout Ahead

The core reason I chose to go to school in San Francisco was because of  the opportunity to be surrounded by a diverse array of identities and perspectives that the Bay Area offers. Once I started  my freshman year, I quickly felt at home with the people I met and the beauty and magic of a new, exciting city. In March of my sophomore year, my university decided to move online due to what felt like the sudden presence of COVID-19 in the United States last spring, and I soon found myself furloughed from my retail job and living back at home in Kansas with my family for the first time since I was seventeen years old. This succession of events made me feel like I had been robbed of the full four year experience I had invested in thinking it would all be spent in San Francisco.

Once I had come to terms with the fact that I would remain at home to complete the Fall 2020 semester remotely as well, I considered what this additional time away from San Francisco would mean. I was determined not to let the semester be one of moping and wishing for what might have been in a world without the virus. Instead, I looked at the potential of what I could gain from it.

I was thankful for the money it would allow me to save, not needing to work long hours to afford my $1000 a month shared shoebox of a bedroom Without astronomical rent to pay, this meant I would not have to work as many hours, I suddenly could afford the time to focus on school and extracurricular activities. When I was living in San Francisco, my life consisted of work, academic classes, studying, and enjoying the city in the little time I had in between. I was not involved in campus life because there simply was not enough time. With almost everything being through a screen this semester, the thought of this new found time was an exciting first for me. 

Opportunities to bolster my resume quickly fell into place as summer neared its end: a paid position as a general reporter for The Foghorn — USF's student run newspaper, an editorial internship with an independent Kansas City magazine, and getting to be able to be part of the executive board as Social Media Director for the relaunch of Her Campus at the University of San Francisco. 

Two part time jobs soon followed and my plan for a semester of more time for self care and exploring new interests was officially a thing of the past. Somewhere between the last half of Summer and the start of the Fall semester, I had convinced myself that being online, tasks would not take as long to complete and I would have more time to do more things outside of school. This was my fatal mistake. Though classes are not being taught in a physical classroom, time spent in a virtual classroom has still been very real, as has homework. Gaining the writing experience of working for the school paper and a well respected Kansas City publication has been great for bolstering my portfolio, but both deserve full care and attention to uphold their level of standards. It soon felt as though these extracurriculars had turned into additional part time jobs. 

As much as I have learned in my academic classes over the first half of the semester, I have also learned that I am still very much limited by 24 hours in a day. Though the pandemic has eliminated a great deal of physical human interaction, burnout still exists. I have a tendency to overextend myself, often standing by the idea that if I am not exhausted at the end of every day, I am missing out on an opportunity to make sure I am making full use of my time. This mentality will only carry you so far before exhaustion takes over and just trying to get through your day feels impossible.

Though I am a student who continues to learn on a daily basis, I offer my experience over the last two months to anyone trying to get the most out of the pandemic. There is no shame in taking time to allow yourself a moment to step back and breath. In the age of endless go, it is important to take a pause. I understand the panic of worrying about this time being wasted if we don't continue to find a way to move forward. However, I challenge all of us to consider the revitalization this time offers to slow down. The world will still be there whenever it is that we walk out on the other side to find whatever the new normal will be.