I’m not sure if this is just something I’m experiencing, but as the tenth week of the semester comes to a close, the burnout is becoming harder and harder to ignore. Being a full-time college student is one of my jobs, and I am certainly reacting to the prolonged stress of the semester with exhaustion, cynicism and feelings of reduced professional ability — the three main dimensions of burnout. I spend the majority of my waking hours doing work for one class or another and I don’t get any satisfaction out of it. When I talk to my friends about this, they say they’re experiencing similar things. Every day is just a matter of going through the motions, to get through the week, only to have the tiniest break over the weekend and start it all over again on Monday.
What I’m saying is I’ve hyper-focused on school for so long that I don’t remember the last time I actually took a moment for myself to appreciate where I’ve been, where I currently am and where I’m going. As cheesy as it sounds, I haven’t taken the time to stop and smell the roses.
After all, I’m not sure if graduate school is something I want to pursue, so operating under the assumption that I’ll be done with school after four years, I’m already on the third semester of a mere eight total semesters. If I keep approaching each semester from pure survival mode, just trying to “get through it,” I’ll end up with nothing more than a degree to show for my time at the University of Connecticut. This isn’t what I want. I want to spend time with my friends and family, meet new people and to have new experiences.
It’s entirely possible that I’m simply feeling especially sentimental this week. But when I embrace that, I think back to high school and realize the whole thing has become somewhat of a blur. I know I was having fun, but I am already losing the details. I certainly can’t remember every little thing that happened anymore. I know this is going to happen with my memories of college as well, which is a terrifying thought. The nights I currently spend hours analyzing over brunch the next day with friends will eventually become a singular cloud in my memory bank that I remember the general feeling of when I think “college.” The specific details and instances are inevitably going to fade away, so I want to enjoy it while I can, rather than trudging through my days.
While reminiscing this week, I remembered a specific conversation from when my high school friends were leaving for college for the first time and I was getting ready to complete freshman year from my childhood bedroom. My best friend’s older sister looked at all of us, saying our goodbyes, and said unprompted, “I’m so jealous of you guys; you don’t even know how amazing this next chapter of your life is going to be.” Obviously at that moment I didn’t believe her (because it wouldn’t be worth mentioning in this article if I initially took her words to heart). I wasn’t even going away to school, so how could college be that great?
But now I’m here, on campus. And in mulling over my current feelings of burning out and wishing I had more time to be grateful for what I have, I realized she was entirely right. I love my life at UConn and the stresses of classes have made it so easy to forget that.
We live in a deeply flawed world with plenty of issues, many of which are present right here on campus, but it’s okay to still take a second and be grateful for what you do have. For me, that’s amazing friends, a supportive family and a lifetime of memories I can only hope to cherish for a lifetime. Thus, starting now I’m making the active choice to do more than going through the motions of my life. You should too.