Burnout: A Rising Epidemic


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Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

There is an unspoken “phenomenon” that takes over the minds of students from all grade levels, and. Stress, burnout, withdrawal. They’re all inevitable constants in academic culture. People tend to joke about being overwhelmed, under pressure, overworked, but I think beneath the surface of the exaggerations, there is a serious issue with nurturing this cycle of “how far can I be pushed to my limits until I reach my breaking point?”

There is an unspoken allure to being faced with challenges and extreme pressure sets and being able to overcome them. That’s what draws us to push ourselves so hard in the first place. Yet, when you look at things from a distance and step away from the craziness, the sick twisted nature of what we put ourselves through, to be our “best” is quite concerning. All too often, stress is analogous to success.

Perfectionism is fulfilling, achieving our goals is rewarding, but somewhere in between the lines, there is a cost. I think that price is not something always apparent on the surface level, and we certainly don’t feel it immediately, otherwise, we wouldn’t do the things we do at all, but it manifests itself in the form of burnout. Human beings are somewhat like candles in their purest form, they stand tall, are resilient against the flame burning at all ends, but still, diminish over time. The only difference is people don’t physically melt into a puddle of their selves when they’ve been pushed, they often remain unchanged.

I think burnout is a universal feeling that can come from more than just academics, but also sports, work, and general living. Oftentimes, it is many of these factors combined that bring us to our lowest low point. In my experience, the sneaky thing about burnout is that although it slowly drains you over a period of time, you are truly hit with its impact all at once. Some Days the exhaustion may stem from the feeling that despite your best you were still never good enough, and other times it may come from a place of being overwhelmed. People generally feel like they are only as good as what they produce, so it’s no surprise that we naturally tend to overfill our plate with the fruits of out-of-range ambitions. Yet, the downside of this hits us internally, when we feel like what we do, what we say, and what we put out is never good enough. Tests, quizzes, essays, homework assignments, college applications, sports, work, clubs, relationships- they’re seemingly minor in the greater context of things, but when you consider juggling them all at once, over time your hands and eyes may be too tired to keep up.

If I could impress anything upon students of any grade level it’s that self-worth will never be derived from how much stress you can juggle, and how many hoops you can jump through to succeed. Pushing one’s self to extreme limits is not, nor will ever be, synonymous with success. If anything, I believe that to be successful in life one must be able to recognize that perfectionism is not everything and that they’ve piled their plate too high and need to take a step back. There is never any shame in backing down to preserve the self. At the end of the day, as hard as it may be to release all the pressure you and others have placed on yourself, it’s pivotal for growth and moving forward.