Sorry, this is so late! I originally had another topic planned for today’s #MondayMotivation, but then I read The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Peterson and felt inspired. Burnout is something I have struggled with a great deal in my adult life, and it can be very isolating. Hearing the folks’ stories that were covered in The Burnout Generation helped me to feel less alone in my struggle with this, so I thought I’d share my story with burnout.
After college, I think I expected life to be much easier. I expected to enjoy having a desk job because it would mean I no longer had to spend long hours on my feet. I expected to enjoy having set working hours and more clear barriers between my work and personal life. I expected to enjoy having the evenings and weekends to myself to pursue things that I cared about. I quickly found that was not the case. The mundanity set in, and it was so easy to slip into the cycle of sleep-work-tv-sleep-repeat. That’s when I started the blog. It gave me purpose and an escape. I decided I wanted to pursue this as my career. I treated this like another career. Then burnout began to set in here too. In The Burnout Generation, one of the people interviewed talks about how we can “project manage our happiness,” and when we do this out unhappiness feels like a “failure.” This resonated with me to the core. I realized I had turned all aspects of my life into a “job.”
It’s not entirely my fault though. Part of burnout stems from our culture. I am not one to blame social media on all the world’s woes, because I see it as a tool. Much like money isn’t inherently evil, but the love of money can be. However, if you aren’t being intentional with it, the worst parts of social media can get to you. You can start to compare yourself to others or find yourself draining valuable time just scrolling. The things you do on social media can have real-life consequences, as well. If you post something that a future employer doesn’t like, it can prevent you from getting a job or make you lose your job. This creates this sort of ideal that we have to curate a sort of “brand” for ourselves online. Your public persona begins creeping its way into your private life. Not to mention that this connectivity has spread over into our work lives, as well. Though this is something I have decided for myself I won’t do, I know many folks have their work emails on their phones. If you aren’t conscientious about these things, they can all lead to burn out as well.
In The Burnout Generation, each of the folks interviewed ended with things they do to help with burnout. I wish that they gave some magic trick to wave all the discontentment away, but instead what they offered was highly individualized. Essentially, you have to find what works for you, and it might not be face masks and bubble baths. A theme that has been popping up recently for me is the idea of doing things badly. Writing and vlogging are amazing creative outlets, and they are both things I am incredibly passionate about. However, I rarely make time to do creative things just for the sake of creating and having fun. I recently went to Karaoke with a bunch of old friends, and leading up to this I was really nervous about what I was going to sing because I wanted to sound good. As someone who was in choir all throughout college, I was putting unnecessary pressure on myself to perform well. What ensued instead was drunkenly screaming “Friends in Low Places” at the top of my lungs and lots of shameless dancing. It was awesome and freeing. I’ve decided I need to pursue more moments like this. Creating for the sake of joy instead of for the sake of being productive is such a satisfying act of rebellion.
Another thing I have been trying to do is pursue the things that I find fun. I know this sounds strange, but I struggle with making time for these things without feeling guilty about it. Currently, I am trying to get back into reading fiction, and not just piling on self-help book after self-help book. Though these types of books have been extremely helpful for me, I’ve been feeling this need to reconnect with why I fell in love with reading as a kid. I recently decided to embark on the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge, which consists of 300+ books she read over the course of the Gilmore Girls series. Speaking of Gilmore Girls, I’ve started trying to make sure I am only consuming TV shows that I want to watch. It has been difficult to manage Brice and I’s preferences, but I know that being intentional with this will prevent me from devoting my whole evenings to the TV, which is something that has led me to burn out in the past.
I felt it was important to include this message in this week’s post because I think this may be the point where the newness of BANG might be wearing off. You don’t have to do this challenge perfectly. Maybe you can only hit one of the BANG principles this week. That’s still more than if you weren’t doing it at all! If you are starting to burn out, maybe this is a good point to reevaluate each of the principles. If you had decided for body love to start participating in joyful movement but can’t find it in yourself to get up early to do it, maybe more rest is what you actually need. If you find it hard to focus on your meditations, maybe its time to change up the type of meditation you are doing. Maybe you’re like me, and you just need to stop putting so much pressure on yourself and enjoy life. Just don’t give up. We are here for you.
Have any of your experienced burnout? How did you deal with it?