"Ugh, I'm exhausted."
The above statement is a text you've received, a text you've sent, an exasperated sigh you've let out on the phone with your mom, the conversation opener as you and your friends sit down to brunch—one that's likely met with a refrain from the entire group, a Greek chorus of overworked women.
Collectively, we're burned out. We work too much, don't sleep enough, and ingest far too much caffeine to make up for all the not-sleeping.
The podcast The Broad Experience explores the topic of burnout on their latest episode; specifically, why women are experiencing burnout faster and younger than ever before.
It's official, research suggests teachers must relax over Christmas to avoid burnout https://t.co/SmGfAz8p9C
— Teacher Toolkit (@TeacherToolkit) December 10, 2016
The episode emphasizes that quitting your job is simply a Band-Aid solution to burnout, and you're likely to experience it again at whatever job you take next.
While I think that's very much true, I also think that there's a bigger issue at hand—why are so many people burned out? Enough people to warrant an entire podcast surrounding the subject? (Not to mention countless other shows and articles and television segments devoted to burnout.)
Throughout my education and career experiences, I've noticed that we push ourselves to the brink of insanity because we feel an immense pressure to be a super human.
This pressure comes from various sources—the talk show that convinced us that joining a book club is the key to being a well-rounded woman, our years of schooling that equated the amount of scholarship money received with success, financial constraints that require 80 hour work weeks.
There's so many people telling us to do more, to be more, to want more. Adhering to the requirements of our jobs is no longer good enough; we're expected to go above and beyond. If we're not tired, we're slacking.
I believe burnout is a generational issue. Of course, our parents and grandparents worked hard and struggled to provide for themselves and their families. They felt pressures, too, ones many of us can't even begin to understand.
— MAKERS (@MAKERSwomen) December 4, 2016
Younger generations are often shamed for the "everyone gets a trophy" mentality (one that we had no hand in implementing, by the way), but what critics fail to see is that if everyone wins, it takes that much more effort to stand out.
It's not enough to show up for work and do your job—we are all expected to be exemplary in everything we do. And that's exhausting.
Cue: a slew of #mondayblues Instagrams at the end of the weekend, lines out the door at Starbucks, and an ever-growing amount of anxious and depressed young people.
Burnout is so real. Just thinking about writing makes me want to cry. Or drink. Possibly both simultaneously.
— Ivy Star (@ivy_star) December 4, 2016
Taking time for yourself isn't selfish—it's spiritually and medically necessary. I've seen too many women (and men) in my life be driven to their limits because of society's refusal to accept this fact.
The way I see it, the real solution to burnout begins with a shift in our attitude towards what success truly means.