Is Burning Out Bad?

After speaking with my 13-year-old, eighth-grade sister, I started to think about the idea of getting “burnt out”. 


She called me to ask how I take notes. “I know I am spending too much time taking notes, but somehow find every other sentence noteworthy,” she said. 


My sister attends the same middle school I did— a place of high stress, at least it seemed so at the time. My classmates and I still joke that we have not experienced the same level of stress as we did in seventh and eighth grade. 


Why? Maybe it was because we did not know how to properly manage our time. Maybe we didn’t know what hard work looked like until then. Maybe we were fresh, new and eager to succeed. 


Are we still now? 


I told my sister that she should read her homework questions first, and then search for the answers in the reading. She replied, “So I shouldn’t read the whole thing? Isn’t that against the rules?” 


My 13-year-old self always read the entirety of any book or article, took too many notes, and wrote excessive answers to every homework question. I despised having to miss a school day, and my worst fear was losing a textbook. 


Now, I skim through my readings for the important information, only take notes when required, and write succinct, short answers to any homework, on the rare occasion I receive any. And now, as a college student looking back on middle school, I encouraged my sister to miss school for any opportunity and to go to bed rather than finish her homework.  


I am able to look back and recognize the unimportance of it all when at the time I thought one bad grade meant a ruined future. 


As much as I try to give my sister the “bigger picture” or put her age in perspective to life’s grander scheme, she still resembles my middle school try-hard self. 


Once she gets to college, will she regret not taking the entire week off for Thanksgiving break? Possibly. Will she regret all of the hard work she put in at an age when papers were graded with a check plus or minus? Probably. Will she be burnt out? Maybe. 


But, if I listened to my friends’ older sisters when they tried to convince me to “try less”, would I be the student I am today? 


Definitely not.