I am exhausted, let’s start there. I am mentally and emotionally exhausted. This semester has been all gas and no brakes are anywhere to be found. You know, colleges are doing something really interesting this year where they don’t give us a spring break, so we have literally been going non-stop in online school for 13 weeks straight now. And I know what you are thinking, Payton when you get a big girl job you aren’t going to have a spring break. And you would be correct in that thought, BUT when you have a big girl job you don’t have to stay up until 11 pm staring at a screen every night just to turn in assignments before the deadlines. Jobs are 9-5, college is literally 9 am – 11 pm (or later depending on the night).
But I’m not writing this post to complain about school, because I can do that anytime. I am writing this week to tell the college kids that it’s okay to feel like there is nothing left in you to finish the semester and to tell the adults that you need to give your kids some grace because we haven’t had time to rest recently.
A little story to show you exactly where I am in life. I have been in online classes for over a year now and it’s exhausting, so whenever I do have free time I soak up every minute of it. But sometimes I make the fatal mistake of thinking I can do a lot more than I am actually capable of. For example, this past weekend on Thursday, I went out to dinner with some friends which then turned into going to the bar. Friday we went out for my roommates birthday, dinner, drinks, and dance clubs. Saturday, I spent my day at a retreat with our college ministry and at that point I hit a wall. I was exhausted, almost falling asleep during the speakers, coffee did not revive me, and I was just grumpy for a majority of the day. And I hated feeling that way, I wanted to soak up every minute I had there, but I really had no gas left in the tank and I was about to crash. I also knew that Sunday I was supposed to go on an hour and a half drive for a baseball game in another city while I had to prep for interviews and the upcoming school week. So, I got home on Saturday night, and decided that I was not going to go to the game on Sunday. Even though I really wanted to, I knew I had to take a rest day and get the more important things done.
Sunday I slept in until 9:45, woke up knowing I had to get my stuff done, but I had no motivation, which is a feeling I have been experiencing a lot recently. I went to a coffee shop, got a cute little latte, and sat staring at my computer wanting to do literally anything than the work I had to get done. I wasn’t magically cured from my exhaustion because I slept in a little more than usual. I wasn’t mysteriously refreshed and ready to take on the last 3 weeks of school full force. No, I sat at that coffee shop, forcing myself to get my work done so that I could go home and just lay down and stare at the wall. My brain is constantly moving 1,000 miles a minute, and it feels like there is no time to take a breath.
Even though I am “caught up” on my work, I am still exhausted. I am burnt out, and I know you probably are too. I was talking to my mom about an internship opportunity, and just got so frustrated on the phone. I wasn’t frustrated at her or the opportunity, I just had no more energy left and I had to hang up and sat in my chair and just started crying. I wasn’t sad, I was genuinely just so exhausted, and all I could do was to cry it out. Even now, I’m lying in my bed typing this up and just wanting to sleep but knowing how much more I need to accomplish before I wake up tomorrow morning because there is never enough time in the day.
So, to the girl who has burnout, join the club. You are not alone; I am exhausted and just as tired of working around the clock with not enough time to finish all we need to. But, when you have the chance to, take a break and recharge. I know it feels like there isn’t time, but maybe you are going to have to tell someone “no” in order to give yourself a breather but do whatever you need in order to survive the next few weeks of non-stop work. Lean on others, cry when you need to, take a walk or a run, and don’t forget to eat. I promise the burnout won’t last forever, we only have a few weeks before summer break, persevere and know you aren’t alone in this. I’m right next to you trying to push myself up the same hill you are, so let’s do it together.