Recognizing the Signs of Burnout

A public service column from the Near True News.


Cue the tears, the migraines, the little pile of hair at the bottom of the shower drain! 

The time is ripe for students to start looking out for their friends, family, and even the pet dog. I’m talking about signs of student burnout, which is ingrained in our motto at New Trier: to commit minds to stress, hearts to Ivy Leagues, and lives to academic validation. 

The following are six conditions common to people with burnout. If you or someone you know exhibits these symptoms of the burnt-out student, you may be entitled to financial compensation at the One-Stop Trev Shop!

1. Waking up every day with a smile on your face.  There’s nothing like the sheer joy of floating out of bed every blissful morning knowing that you’re a zealot of the American education system, especially when you’ve pulled an all-nighter questioning the profitable value of your entire life. Life’s got so much to offer, like cramming for the SAT and hearing all your friends tell you about all the ungodly hours they spend on their extracurriculars. Just thinking about sleep deprivation’s long-term health consequences pops the zing right into your eyes. Being a teenager at New Trier really takes the cake!

2. Staring at the same assignment for two hours. The paper taunts you: you haven’t written anything down in a solid half hour. If you squint hard enough, you start to panic, because like your high school transcript, there’s not just A’s on there. Your brain feels like a slop of middle school cafeteria refried beans. Your wrists feel like they’ve been vacationing in Chernobyl. Oxygenated blood hasn’t reached your legs in fifteen minutes. Will this earn you a merit-based scholarship? Your desiccated eyes slowly shrivel into raisins that you send along with your college applications.

3. Scrolling through the New Trier seniors college Instagram account. Did you know that Enna Chiefabel, who went to the same middle school you did, got into every school in the world, only to reject them all and ascend to the highest plane of existence? Well, you can have senior class pictures and university logos branding your brain as you try to grind out your overdue English annotations. This Instagram account is not only a showcase of all your classmates’ efforts, but a reminder that you need to work harder than a chipmunk on speed to get into a good school. After all, if you don’t get a medical degree at John Hopkins, you’ll thoroughly regret every aspect of your life forever.

After all, if you don’t get a medical degree at John Hopkins, you’ll thoroughly regret every aspect of your life forever.

4. Excessive Anxiety and/or Calm. You’re pacing around the room again because you’re somehow still worried about the English project on nihilism you decided to give up on. Breathe, breathe, breathe! WebMD says that if you have more than two nervous thoughts per day, then something is definitely wrong. But you’re so calm. Like, Buddha meditating under the bodhi tree, floating into the Nirvana of infinite A’s, having everyone think you’re the reincarnation of perfect, even though if you reach Nirvana you don’t have to be reincarnated anymore, because that’s the whole point, and that’s in your history presentation about Buddhism due in fifteen minutes that you haven’t written a word of, calm. You’re breathing easy again, and you’re pacing and sweating at a normal rate. You’re so calm, in fact, you wish you could sleep forever, if that means the thoughts can finally shut up for once. It’s not like you have time for a professional evaluation anyway.

5. A Grade Dropping from an A- to a B+. Here it is. The most terrible horror that you’ve been waiting for, when you’re logging onto Canvas and your grades have slipped just that little. The breaking point, where everything in your life has gone to utter ruination and you are the culmination of your ancestors’ disappointments. It’s the beginning of the end, and one bad test day has condemned you to academic failure. But, on the plus side, it’s a reason to not try anymore.

6. Crying. Okay, let’s be honest: The main sign of burnout is crying. We’re talking anything from sobbing, sniveling, and ugly crying to a single lone tear falling down your cheek. You might just cry yourself to sleep, cry silently as you go home from school, cry as you do the dishes because that’s just too much responsibility for you to handle at the moment, or cry as you listen to emo music you should’ve put away after seventh grade.

How many of these signs sound like you? If all of them do, then great! You’re doing the bare minimum to progress and produce in a nepotistic society, where your hard work won’t matter anyway.   Not burnt out yet? Just try harder, get on that sigma grindset, and you too can become a shell of your former self.