Rekindling the Burnout Blues
“The trouble was that February the twenty-fourth looked a lot closer from this side of Christmas, and he still hadn’t done anything about working out the clue inside the golden egg.” – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, pg. 436.
As the nerd in me reflects on Harry’s troubles in the Goblet of Fire, I realized this is the exact problem we all face at college too. We have a great Thanksgiving break where we relax, eat, forget that we have school because Hey! There’s so much time left! But then the realization hits. Christmas looks a lot closer on this side of Thanksgiving, and the worst two weeks left of school begins.
Melissa talked about procrastination in her latest post, and she definitely hit the nail on the head. Coming back from Thanksgiving, you know there’s only two weeks left of school before finals. Trying to motivate yourself to do work is a real struggle, and everyone deals with it in different ways. Most people – it’s procrastination. Or just feeling burnt out. They stop doing work as much and struggle to keep up. Especially finals, when you have an exam on the last day and all your friends have already left… who wants to study for that?
The problem for me is that I have felt burnt out all year. I don’t know what it was, but my work has constantly been a strain this whole year. But after Thanksgiving (after the miracle that was actually doing work during break), I’ve been on top of things. I’ve gotten so much work done, and I feel great! And only one thing has changed: Borderlands 2.
Yes, I’m attributing my success in these last few weeks to a game. I haven’t really been able to relax all year. Sleep, eat, ballroom, class, read, homework, repeat. If I finished an assignment, it just meant that I had another assignment to look forward to. I brought my XBox and a new TV I bought over the summer to college and I hadn’t touched it all year. But now, I have something to reward myself with. “Finish this assignment and I can play Borderlands for an hour before bed.” But even then, I feel so de-stressed from having it there, that I’ve been able to finish that work, and then say, “Ah, why not do another reading while I’m at it.” I don’t want to attribute the de-stressing just to the … violent aspect of the game, but just the fact that there’s something else there that’s not work. I can even just put the controller down (easier than it sounds, it can be a very frustrating game at points) and go back to work. Work is as much of an escape from Borderlands as Borderlands is an escape from work.
Before Thanksgiving, we praise the break. “Oh, I really need this break, I’m so stressed!” But then after, everyone is so de-stressed that re-motivating yourself to work is a harder task than half of the exams you had to take before the break even began!
Of course, fair warning: I’m not saying bring your Xbox because you’ll get more work done at college. It’s a lot of self-control. I could respond with Borderlands all day and ignoring all of my work. But it’s nice to have an escape, a break from the work. Otherwise, burning out is a serious, real problem in college. It happens all the time, and I’m scared it’ll seriously happen when I go from undergrad to grad school.
Work is important. School is important. School and work is important. And clubs are important – but even they aren’t escapes all the time. I love ballroom, but I take it seriously so it’s another class to me. You need that outlet – reading, working out, games, reality TV – whatever. Mine just so happens to be Borderlands 2.