September 28, 2020

WU | Chill Out or You’ll Burn Out

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Most of my friends approached this semester in one of two ways — take more classes than usual because classes are online and less real, or take less classes than usual because classes are online and less real. I fall squarely into group two. In full-blown senioritis fashion, I am enrolled in the minimum number of classes to get me over the 12-credit minimum hump.

In theory, life should be breezy. And it is. I’ve gone apple picking two weekends in a row. I’ve been frequenting the Dairy Bar an unhealthy amount. I am taking fewer classes, those classes are less intensive and my extracurriculars are a shell of their former selves.

Yet, I feel burnout fast approaching.

My pace of life has slowed, and I do so much less each day compared to a year ago. But when you live in slow motion, your thoughts run in rapid motion.

There is no more autopilot — every action I take, I need to calculate. Everytime I touch a door handle, my brain freaks out a little bit. I make a mental note to wash my hands in the near future. Whenever I run into a friend, I wonder how distant I should stand from them while we catch up. If I want to get coffee from Café Jennie and then study on campus, I need to figure out where I might be able to sit away from other people so I can take my mask off.

All these minute considerations can become quickly exhausting. It becomes much easier just to stay at home all day long. But even when I sit in my apartment all day,  I am deluged by (often negative) news from Facebook, Reddit or actual news outlets. Our brains are being overloaded and overstimulated in all of our environments, both real and virtual. And we are flaming out faster.

Nowadays, I find myself spending a good chunk of time sitting, watching otter videos and decompressing. I feel grateful that my semester is lax enough where I can afford that leisure time. Yes, school might be easier, but living is harder. As my mom’s favorite inspirational saying goes, life is a marathon — you’re not supposed to be running your fastest all the time. Especially right now, it’s okay just to get by.

We get one day off between now and mid-November. You and I will need more breaks than that. Take them.

Lei Lei Wu is a senior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at lwu@cornellsun.com. Get Lei’d runs alternate Mondays this semester.