Trying to navigate burnout

Drew Hoffmaster | The Chronicle

How many tough classes does it take for us to start to slow down? What is the point where we begin to feel like we are going insane? When do we lose hope in continuing?

Everyone expects the possibility of burning out near the finish line but no one expects to burn out at the start. As a high school student with endless possibilities looming ahead, I feel like I must pour every ounce of energy into every single thing I do, but I have found myself questioning if this is sustainable. This school year, I have taken two AP classes. I have been pushing myself to strive for the grades I want while trying my best not to break; however, it is tougher than it looks. I have been finding myself constantly feeling fatigued and procrastinating most of my homework. Whenever I get home from school, I will find an excuse to not do my work, even if it is a two-hour lunch break. I know this is bad, so I keep telling myself, don’t procrastinate, but the cycle just never ends.

As I see my fellow peers, friends and family burn out, I keep thinking that I will be the exception or that this will never happen to me. But, this school has been quickly teaching me the falsity of this statement – we can burn out with anything. No one is a superhero.

We often hear: if you feel like you need a break then take a break. I wish it were that simple.

Yes, some can just do that, but we all are not in a position where we can just drop everything and run away. I can not just one day stop showing up to my classes, leave my job, or walk away from my black belt responsibilities. Throughout high school, I have learned all about what I love. If I let any of this go, I feel like a part of myself will disappear. In the groups and activities we join, we gain many important responsibilities – as a leader, a friend, a supporter, a student – that make it so difficult to walk away. There is the fear that our goals, dreams and aspirations might never be achieved.

I cannot just quit.

What I want most is to live a life that I am happy with, but burnout gets in the way of motivating me to try new things or focus on doing what I love. I have been trying to find ways around it; whether it is taking a five-minute break or forcing myself to get the sleep I need. I still struggle to do this, but I know from the times I have managed to, that I felt a lot better.

No matter how much we want to quit school or give up, we know that we will miss so many different opportunities. We can still balance school with living a happy and healthy life. High school is temporary whereas the rest of our lives are not. Right now, we need to focus on setting up for our future success by balancing our stress and our academics. Whenever stress lights a flame and starts the fire that is burnout and we start to be consumed by it, we have to remember to step back, take a break and look forward as we trudge through the fire of burnout toward greener pastures. That is why I keep going, why I do not give up, why I keep trudging.