I woke up today at 3am, in Northern Ireland, to catch a 6am flight to London to make it on time to my college class, a review for a final. As I sat in the airplane, all I could feel was tired.
Yes, I was tired from waking up before the sun (go figure) – but also tired of the stress and anxiety that I have constantly been feeling for the past couple of months, as I prepare for Dead Week (aka Finals Week). Right now, I have several essays due, dozens of emails to respond to, a presentation to work on, and it all has to be done by the end of this week. I felt worn out, exhausted just looking at my schedule. I wished that that plane wasn’t taking to me class, but rather to my family and friends back home, who I haven’t seen in almost half a year.
Thinking about it, I realized that what I was experiencing was the first stages of burn out. What is burn out, you ask?
It’s when you’re so stressed that your physical and emotional health decline. You become sick more easily, you have a harder time falling asleep, you procrastinate more, etc. etc.
It’s also completely unnecessary. And useless.
Yes, I’m feeling stressed right now – but mostly I feel lucky, thankful, and grateful. Who am I to complain about traveling and having weekend adventures? How bad do I have it, when I have the opportunity to go to a wonderful university and study material I love? A stranger on the Tube today randomly told me I had pretty eyes, for crying out loud!
The reason we burn out is because we become entirely focused on our problems, our messes, and our screw ups. Which is, quite frankly, idiotic and self-sabotaging.
It’s healthy to know ourselves, flaws and all, but flaws cannot and should not be the only things we see. What we need to do, instead, is become entirely focused on what we have to be thankful for, and what steps we can take to work towards our goals.
Every life has something good in it. I’m beyond grateful for my family, my best friend, my education, my health, the experiences I’ve had, and so much more. I’m thankful that I am the person I am, because I have worked hard to become her. I’m so happy that I live in a world with chunky brownies and Indiana Jones movies!
There are things that I want to change (I wish I didn’t have assignments looming over my head, deadlines to meet, etc.), but let’s be honest – I can (and I am) working towards changing these things. You can choose, at any moment, to start working on that essay, to order that salad, to end that toxic friendship. Giving thanks for what you have doesn’t prevent you from working towards even more satisfaction. If you want something to happen, then you need to take a step forward in the direction of that change.
An old elementary school teacher once told me you can’t just jump over Mount Everest – you have to go one step at a time, until you reach the other side. I would add onto that – as you climb, make sure that you stop and enjoy the view once in a while.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone – make sure to study for your finals, and eat some pumpkin pie!