Today’s diary-like article is brought to you by my head’s burgeoning desire to really see the world and diversify my experiences. As a student for about 21 years straight, I’m really starting to develop an itch for more. Stuck inside classrooms with esoteric professors (at times), and told to read ever-increasing amounts of onerous text, I’m burnt out.
My head keeps thinking about bigger questions:
- Why are we here?
- What motivates me?
- How can I follow my dreams?
- Why am I sitting in certain courses, losing an hour-and-a-half of life each class?
- Am I benefiting from these more pedantic exercises in endurance for endurance sake?
- How can I better help others?
Before I can focus on these questions, I’m swept away by the confining, time-limiting world of graduate school. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this cliche: “Graduate school is like a marathon.” The purpose of this phrase is to both reassure and reevaluate your place. A marathon is all about pace; to finish 26.2 miles, you must have a perfect confluence of both time and energy. Just pace yourself in grad school, and you’ll make it through.
The analogy works, until I remember that I finished two marathons in the first two years of graduate school. See, I’d take a marathon any day over the drool-inducing caverns of classrooms. In these moments of both clarity and disillusion, I wonder what I’m doing and desperately want to buy a ticket to some far away place.
I want to see the world before it’s too late. I want to feel more before it’s too late. Life is finite, and precious. Being in a classroom, sitting through an incomprehensible lecture on a subject I will never apply to my work as a psychologist is hard to swallow. Like Dorothy, I’m clicking my shoes together, hoping to be anywhere but within these four academic walls. I want to be out there, helping people, and making a difference – concretely, directly.
That’s when my more frivolous self comes into the picture. That airfare to a remote destination is most certainly not frugal. The desire to experience, see, and do often comes with a price; frankly, Groupon doesn’t help. I’m in debt. Nothing is truly affordable; yet, I’m itching to get up and go.
Burnout is a warning. Burnout is when the presses stop, wheels cease to spin. Burnout can be disastrous to a frugal budget. That’s the last thing I need. Nowadays, my solution to these moments is to accept my body’s non-acceptance. My head and heart are telling me: something’s gotta give.
If you’re beginning to feel burnout, your body is communicating something about stress and flow in life. Likely, your time and energy is primarily going to tasks that aren’t fulfilling. The answer is simple: keep doing the same thing or change it up. Usually, it’s not about needing more time; rather, a reallocation of time. If you’re burnt out it’s probably time to starting saying “no” to certain projects, taking more time to pursue passion projects, and giving up a little bit of the expected path. It helps to remember that this is your path – no one else’s. You can change course whenever you feel like it.