Don’t idolize burnout. Nourish yourself instead

It’s not that I actively don’t want to live. It’s more that I am tired of constant wear and worry, the endless carousel of expectations that is daily life. I am in my early 20’s and life often feels more like a chore than a joy. 

I have been in college for five years. When I am not taking college classes, I am at one of the two jobs I hold, doing homework or taking care of my house. This is an unsupported system that leaves me with little to no time to do the things that really matter to me. Which is not to say that my college classes do not matter. But the things that feed my soul, the stress-free times when I can zone out, release the brakes, be myself–those things are lacking. 

I have hobbies. I love to read. I enjoy making crafts with paint and yarn and watching tv and movies. I enjoy writing and hiking and lying in the sun. Those things aren’t available to me during the school year. 

And I know I’m not alone in this. So many people in their lower-to-upper twenties are feeling burnout right now. To us, life is losing its luster too early on, the odds feel stacked against us and life feels like more of a burden than a joy. 

Our daily lives are stressful. We are juggling mental health, good grades, threats to our physical health, being good friends, being good students, the list goes on. In my own experience, I know that it is so easy to set aside the things that feed you, that nourish your soul, in order to be the things that you feel the need to be. 

I think the best way to challenge burnout is to challenge the notions it is buried in. What do you feel you need to do verses what do you want to do? I know a lot of students who are content to overload themselves with classes and run themselves into the ground because they can graduate more quickly and they will have time to be happy then. The time to be happy is now. 

This is to say, find ways to seek happiness in the present. You can buckle down and do well while caring for yourself. Sometimes that means small things, like taking a break from homework to do a craft project, to play video games, to recharge, to feed what makes you you. 

In a culture that places value on performance, things like feeling burnt out can make you feel like a failure. You and I are not failures for struggling to keep up with the stresses of life. None of us can perfectly fulfill the expectations that are placed on us, nor should we. The idea that we should needs to be challenged and refuted by choosing to nourish ourselves in ways small or large, so we can find joy in our lives in the now.