I had 600 words finished for my column by Sunday night at around 8pm; a few hours after I had gotten back from being at my friends house for the weekend.
Recently, my brain has been telling me that I cannot be on campus for more than one week at a time. I think this is partially because the whole first month of the semester I was away working with friends, tricking my brain into thinking school wasn’t real or that every weekend I’d be able to fully disconnect.
But work ended, and I started staying on campus for weekends, and in turn the work started piling up and I had less and less to look forward to. My brain put two and two together in the best way it could, going on impulsive adventures, spending money I didn’t have on concerts and weekends away. Short term, I succeeded in finding things to look forward to and staying away from school, inviting my friends to stay over to keep me distracted from my responsibilities.
However, I didn’t realize that jam-packing my social life would severely deflate my social interaction meter.
I talked it through with a friend, realizing that after a whole covid year locked away from true social interaction at least to the same extent as the year before we had all been desperately grasping for what we thought would make up for everything we missed out on. Not realizing that after said year, we weren’t ready.
Now I’m sitting here writing. Something that I have since getting to New Paltz has always made me feel good. Writing an article about a town news, coming up with a playlist or top 10 list, things I know I am capable of writing and writing well, would always make me feel better when I was the most stressed. I knew I could at least get the stuff for The Oracle out of the way because I knew how to do it and I wanted to do it.
But now the words won’t come. I sit down to write, let my fingers touch the keys expecting for them to just start typing like they usually do. But they won’t. I cannot think of a single word to put into a single sentence. I can’t meet my word counts, I don’t find any topics interesting. That’s how I knew something was up. Not being able to do the one thing that comes naturally to me is scary. If I can’t write an article how can I do any school work, on topics I know nothing about?
I was originally going to write about how unfair it is that students celebrating Chanukah can’t go home for the holiday, and how unfortunate it is that the holiday starts when we get back from Thanksgiving break and ends the day classes end for the semester, so right smack in the middle of the two breaks.
This is a topic I feel so strongly about and know that I could very well write about for hours yet I couldn’t. I sat in front of my computer for days watching the time go by but words were stuck, I couldn’t get anything out.
I thought back to last year and realized one thing is different; after Thanksgiving we did not come back, not until spring semester began at least. We had half the social interactions, 75% less in person classes, and yet more breaks. Feeling the effects of whiplash from being thrown into a fully in person semester where seemingly everyone wants to do everything, we get a three day break to come back for two weeks and finish out the semester.
It is almost like the school doesn’t realize that going from such extremes is incredibly tolling, not just on a college student, but on any person.
The transition to college is already major on any individual during a normal year, but the transition from high school to covid college and then to real college is even more taxing with no breaks, or transition periods. With no guidance on how to go about such a stark change, of course burnout is hitting me like a truck.
At this point I simply believe that people are expecting too much. Professors are asking for too much, and I do not have enough to give.
This is how far I got, if not a little further in writing the original idea I had for my column. Getting stuck at the same point feels fitting, my brain and my hands led me to thinking I was on a roll, that I had enough words to meet my word count. But each time I was led on, the ideas I wanted to talk about, the points I wanted to make all seem to disappear around the same time.
This brings me back to burnout, a topic I think I always took for granted until now. I guess I never got to experience real burnout last year because if I was really feeling over it I could just sleep through my online classes.
Today I had to register for classes at 7:15 a.m., a fun and totally not stressful way to begin my week. I then was unsuccessful in falling back asleep before my 9:30 a.m. lecture. A class that without speaking it into the universe, I believe I will definitely be failing. This was then followed by an immediate group study session for said class. Then a 1:00 p.m. interview for an article that was then scrapped and pushed to the next issue. Finally, I received my first break of the day and went to get an iced latte larger than my head with two shots of espresso from Dunkin. I sat in my living room and did some work until my 3:30 class which went until 6 p.m. When that finally ended, I picked up my friend from her lecture and we walked to the dining hall to squeeze in my first meal of the day before my 7:00 p.m Oracle meeting that lasted until 10 p.m.
A typical jam packed day. No wonder I feel so burnt out. This feeling shouldnt be pushed aside, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to get all my work done, all my articles in on time and still feel just the littlest bit sane and socially fulfilled.
I’m not really sure what the moral of the story is here, or what kind of message I was trying to get across. Maybe reading my very open and honest life update someone can find solace in feeling something similar. At the end of the day I cannot be the only person feeling the effects of burnout especially in the middle of our first full semester back after a whole year of covid life.
Regardless of how challenging and meaningless everything feels right now, I just finished this column, a feat I thought would be absolutely impossible. So maybe everything’s going to work out just fine.