2020 was a blur. At the beginning of the pandemic, between reading doomsday ringing headlines, I remember sitting in the shower of my LA apartment. Feeling the cool water pooling around me slowed my mind from sifting through unwanted, familiar memories as the cold pierced through layers of accumulated stress.
I learned recently that there’s more to burnout than just feeling exhausted. It can be the loss of feeling accomplishment. Lack of motivation. Cynicism. Self-doubt. Feeling detached and defeated. And like this list of symptoms, there doesn’t seem to be a single or definitive cause for it. Resonating with these feelings over the past two years, burnout is a topic I’ve been thinking about lately — and I want to share my journey with it.
Within The Balancing Act survey, conducted by It’s Nice That, 57 per cent of respondents say their workload has increased during the pandemic. 75 per cent also noted they’ve worked overtime, yet 74 per cent of these individuals do not receive extra payment for documented overtime hours. On recollection of my own experience, I don’t think I’ve left work earlier than 7pm at most jobs. I remember thinking that was admirable and something to be proud of.
There’s a romanticisation of burnout that I can trace back to grade school. Bragging that’s sometimes disguised as deprecation, akin to sharing your most grotesque scars or contests of who stayed up the longest. As we enter the working world, these contests become lists of clients and accomplishments — where the cover of humility wears thin. The urge to relay such accomplishments in conversation with friends or family feels right in the moment, but is often followed by a tinge of regret as you finish the sentence. We each feel a need to impress and overtly quantify hard work, to make everything more tangible.