Burnout

Burnout is constantly feeling like I’m late to something, even when I’m not, rushing through an activity because I just want to get to the end and “be on time”.

Burnout is thinking that I have to get through just a little bit more, hold out a little longer, and then realizing I’m not even sure what it is I’m holding out for.

Burnout is when, instead of doing the four very simple tasks before me, I do nothing. I just… do nothing. And then I panic about not getting the four simple tasks done, so when a fifth task is added to the list, it seems like the most arduous, overwhelming task in the world.

Burnout. My therapist asked me to work on trying to identify burnout in my life, so that I can recognize when it’s about to happen, and prevent it. I have reached burnout so many times in my life, and usually I only take action when I’m in its midst — eliminating stressful factors from my life once they’ve already grabbed me by the throat and thrown me to the ground. But to stop the problem before it occurs… well, that’s an idea.

I’m an activity girl. I cram more and more things into my schedule — not social experiences, but activities that may produce social experiences but whose main focus is productivity. I don’t know why I do this… the comfort that I’m looking for is never in quantity of activities, it’s in time spent. I know this. But somehow, activities seem like a more tangible, achievable thing — it feels easier to plan a get together than to actually convince people to spend time with me. I plan because I have social anxiety, I plan because I don’t want to disappear off the radar.

In the times I’ve felt burnout, I have pared back on activities, because activities so quickly become obligations for me. I made a list once of all the monthly obligations I had related to improv, film-related events, meetings, practices, etc, and the count came to more days than there were in a month.

There are things I’ve neglected hardcore in my life because I just move from event to event, activity to activity. I have been absolute shit at writing this past year, because it has gotten bumped down on my list of priorities. I also have greatly ignored friendships, or watched them grow distant, because I don’t know how to fix it and I don’t have the time to figure it out.

And I have neglected being in the moment. I have neglected spending time outdoors, I have neglected people watching, I have neglected peace of mind.

My friend once chastised me for not making enough time for myself, but I think that’s because my introspection happens when I’m looking outward. Being alone with myself is something that’s really hard for me, because I don’t really find joy in being by myself. I enjoy being around people, and soaking in their energy, and this is probably why I jump at so many opportunities to be a part of so many things — because then I can be around people for those things.

And maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I shouldn’t formulate an idea of who I am internally by looking at the world around me. Spending time for myself allows me to get a grasp on who I am, once I strip away my reactions to other people.

So I’ve been trying to spend more time by myself. So far this has meant watching a lot of Netflix, which I don’t think really counts as “by myself”, but it’s a start. It’s at least a sabbatical from the act of hiding behind my schedule.

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A plea

Stop
Worrying
About being a friend,
And being accepted as a friend,
And friendships unraveling before you as a roll of ribbon,
And you try to put it back together neatly and the way it was before but once unwound the ribbon doesn’t take,
Doesn’t want to take, never wanted to be
A part of the roll anyway,
It just wanted to tie to something else, or to hang by itself,
To do anything but be taped to a cardboard circle.
Stop.
Stop looking at motive.
Stop trying to understand why the ribbon is on the roll,
And start
Focusing
On getting to know
Those you care about.
Friendship will follow,
If it chooses to.
And if it doesn’t,
You’ve still got
Stories.
You’ve still got
A strong surface
For another ribbon to grab hold.
You’ve still got
You,
And if you can’t handle air being the only thing around you,
Then you should be
Worrying
About more than ribbon.