Coming Back from The Brink of Burnout

Whether you’re a new reader (hi, welcome!) or someone that has been around this website since approximately 2015 (yikes, hehe) allow me to introduce myself:

Hi, my name is Ally, I’m a junior at KU who loves navy stripes, her golden retriever, spending money on coffee, and I do too much.

I’ve put off writing this post for about as long as I put off doing my laundry and writing my weekly lesson plans for practicum. First because every time I tried, the concept seemed narcissistic and hard to discuss without sounding full of myself. Second, because writing and posting, meant admitting it was true. For my own sanity of keeping the first reason off the table, I won’t use this post to sit here and list off everything that fills my agenda…and my google calendar…and the multiple sticky notes floating around my binders and desk and car. So to be vague, I am busy. Like the kind of busy where free time is rare to where I don’t know what to do with it, and when I do, my mind still seems to be a running to-do list of what I need to be doing AFTER that free time is up.

As you can imagine and I’m sure lots of you relate to, being a full time student, working a part time job, holding leadership positions, and managing to find time to eat and sleep and catch up on your friends’ lives seems nearly impossible most days until it’s all done and we pass out .5 seconds after climbing into bed. I KNOW lots of you can relate because our generation. Loves. To. Be. “Busy.” Being “busy” and “stressed” has almost turned into a fad and trend of our generation, and frankly, it SUCKS!!!

I used to be like most of my generation in that aspect until a month or so ago. I was absolutely guilty of using my packed schedule as a guilt trip on occasions, or to almost rank myself among my peers in my head; as I assumed they were doing as well. “Who is spending the most hours at the library tonight?” “Who got the least amount of sleep last night?” “I have 3 tests this week, can anyone beat me and have 4?” IT IS EXHAUSTING. Physically and mentally! Exhausting!!! I was so used to the routine of go go go and why? I’m not even fully sure. Some days I swear I would have the busiest days and go to sleep that night still feeling like I accomplished nothing. Basically it was like Sunday scaries every day of the week 24/7/365. I was starting to face every millennials biggest fear: burnout.

All that changed when I simply realized: I didn’t like feeling that way.

I didn’t like being tired all the time! I didn’t like going to all my meetings, but thinking about the next one before finishing the first instead of being engaged in the conversation in front of me.

I saw a quote on a t-shirt in an online boutique that stated the infamous quote “she believed she could so she did” but instead of the oh so fitting with our societal love of doing things for the sake of doing things “so she did” it stated: “but she was really tired, so she rested. and you know what? The world went on and it was ok. And she knew she could try again tomorrow.” & wow did that literally hit me harder than anything on my to-do list. It was REALLY that easy, If I didn’t want to feel that way…I didn’t have to.

Now I understand that there are obvious obligations like academics and work and things that one can’t jut “not do” if they don’t feel like it. Trust me, tried that mentality once in my polysci class, don’t recommend for the GPA. BUT, one CAN take a nap, one CAN stop watching Netflix and go to bed, one CAN, and hear me out here fellow overachievers…say no.

I won’t lie to you and say I went from 0-100 on relaxing and that my schedule went from booked to free as a bird at any quick rate. I also won’t say it was easy to begin not to overcommit. When you’re used to a life of a full inbox and a marathon pace of meetings, moving life to a speed walk instead of a sprint is tricky and to be honest, I felt guilty at first. But once I started seeing differences in my anxiety, my overall health, and my day to day mood, I committed to keeping my to-do’s intentional and things did get easier.

So this post is for all the people that do too much. I’m proud of you!!!! I am!! I know all too personally and well the satisfaction of a nicely crossed off to-do list or the excitement (and also the same time immense regret) of every “yes of course I have time!” Or “no problem I can do that for you!” I know you think you’re doing what’s good for you by doing EVERYTHING. But you know what I want to be proud of you for instead? Doing. Nothing. I know when you’re used to doing everything, doing nothing feels like the hardest possible thing to do. But just like the technology you’re reading this open letter on right now, you need to charge yourself as well.

I haven’t taken a full 360. I don’t wake up at 6 and do yoga as “me time” (props to you that do. You’re forever my inspirations.) and I sure as heck still have days where i basically just write MEETINGS in all caps on my agenda page. I‘m still being my demanding self and loving it. I love the rush that comes with the pace of my many tasks, and I am so thankful for the problems I work on and the people I collaborate with daily. HOWEVER, you’ll find me saying “no” a lot more often so that I have more time to do NOTHING. Everyone’s “nothings” look a lil different: some mean meditation, others, like myself, mean unneeded grocery store trips that end in who knows what that I absolutely didn’t need.

To end with a quote from TheEverygirl that sums up what I do hope you can begin to fuel your days with:

Here’s to me doing a lot more less. I hope you all can use these words as a push of courage and vulnerability to do the same.

Until next time, xoxo, Ally

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