October 20, 2016

Picture this:  a girl sits in the middle of her bedroom, various papers and binders lying in formation around her.  Each paper represents yet another task to be fulfilled, another check to be marked in a box. The papers--or what they represent, rather--frighten the girl;  she hasn't the faintest idea where to begin with the massive piles of things around her and yet she realizes that she must begin in order to make them disappear.  The hour is late, her head aches, and her mind spins in a dozen directions when she says aloud, "Is all of this worth it?"

As you may have guessed, that girl is me, and the description you just read is a little scenario that has played out a few times too many over the past months.  I had been warned that burnout was a real danger, especially to high school and college students, but I hadn't ever considered that I would be experiencing it head-on.

Prep For A Day

It's such a peculiar situation because I've already enjoyed this year infinitely more than I've enjoyed the other two years of high school I have under my belt.  Socially, things have improved astronomically.  I enjoy the classes I'm taking;  they are more challenging, but I prefer them to be that way.  For once I feel as though I'm involved in things that I truly wish to be involved in, and I even feel like I could earn my way to a leadership position in some of those things.  On paper everything sounds perfect, which is part of the reason why this burnout is so infuriating.

When you take a look at the fine print, the situation starts looking less favorable.  Junior year has a reputation as being the most challenging year of high school in the realm of academics.  I don't believe that the curriculum is what strictly earns that reputation;  it's having to balance a tougher course load with standardized testing, extracurricular involvement, college touring, and living, that gives junior year such a harrowing reputation.  My classes aren't overwhelmingly difficult;  however, I'm technically taking more than the maximum amount of classes that my school offers to its students per semester, and four of them are Advanced Placement courses.  I'm the only person in my entire grade who is taking AP Statistics, which is a fact intimidating in itself.

This year I plan to take and finalize my scores for nearly every standardized test that is available to high school students.  I'm also auditioning for a couple of choirs and competing in a health science competition that involve an extensive amount of independent preparation. Add all of that to blogging and other clubs and teams, and I've forged a pretty busy schedule.  Then there's the fact that I have to wake up around five every morning to have enough time to start working on one of my online classes at six-thirty;  that wouldn't be significant if not for the fact that I've ended up with a cluttered sleep schedule.  The list could go on and on perpetually.

For a while I've been feeling like an entirely different person--but not in a positive way. I feel constantly sluggish and easily defeated.  Even when I try to rest on the weekends, I stay fatigued;  it's as though the weight of everything I'm involved in has decided to drop upon my shoulders, and I can't figure out how to shake it off.  Worst and most frustrating of all, motivating myself to do anything productive has become much more of a struggle than it ever should be.  There's a small, whining voice in my head that keeps asking, "Why are you doing this?  What is all of this worth?"

To be completely honest, I don't have a clear, unwavering answer to those questions yet. My parents and I are working together to solve this slump, but I know that it's necessary for me to make major decisions about questions like that in order to really beat this burnout.  I'm confident in my ability to complete everything on my plate (and to complete it well);  although shoveling through it all will not be the most pleasant experience, adversity does build character.  Even more so, difficult times like this teach valuable lessons--experience has always been a notable teacher.

To finish off, I have no sure-fire way to cure burnout, nor do I have a charming anecdote that sums all of my claims and advice into a lovely paragraph.  I just have the reality of the past few months, but I hope that what I've conveyed through this post is enough to prove to you that you are not alone;  if you are experiencing or have experienced a similar frame of mind, please know that you have at least one fellow sympathizer in the world.  Until either one of us finds a solution for our problem, I have a suggestion for you:  stop worrying about your never ending to-do list, make yourself rest, and take extra time to do the things you truly love.  For now, take comfort in this small piece of wisdom (I know I have):
"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." -- C.S. Lewis


  1. Tori, sounds like you have a lot on your plate-but you're smart and you'll get through it-I get a ''creative burn-out'' too
    sometimes, you just have to remove yourself from the situation all together for a day-few hours and shake things up-come back with a new perspective.
    Hang in there girl,

    1. I really appreciate the advice Katelyn; as always, thanks for reading!

  2. As a senior, junior year is totally rough but you'll get through it! I've been so much more calm and less stressed this year which is ironic because I have more work this year in addition to college apps!


    1. That's a great motivator for me--thanks for sharing your bit of experience!


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