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  • Writer's picturealaurafilbin

17 September 2020: Burnout & Expectations

I may have bitten off more than I can chew, I admit. I haven't written much lately, I have barely done any editing, but I have been having fun making the podcast, and I'm determined to try to maintain the content schedule I've promised. That said, with Make Me Read! on Saturday, I have really been lagging on my book review of The Guest List, I'm lagging on finishing Artemis (I am so close to finishing it!) and therefore also that review, and so many other things.

Being officially back to work is making doing all the things difficult! Cool thing, though—I've learned how to make interactive slideshows on Google Slides for my class to complete "assignments" similar to the IEP goals we would run in class. It's pretty neat.

More on the downside, though, is the fact that our school district has opted to make Webex the primary form of video communication with classes. Webex sucks. Even when simply trying to record myself, not even making a call to someone, the video and audio is choppy. My coworkers and I tried recording art videos to share with the kids and all of them turned out terribly; we had to re-record them today and yesterday. PSA to the world: Webex is terrible, please use something else.

Anyway, I'm going to continue with life and hopefully won't burn out. That said, I do want to talk a little bit more about mental health.

My own expectations have been hard to meet, which has put some stress on me in the last week or so, and I had to remind myself that I'm doing my writing in the free time I have outside of work. It doesn't leave me with a lot of time or energy at the end of the day so keeping myself motivated is largely relying on my desire not to disappoint the people who happen to want content from me.

However, my desire not to disappoint people should not take priority over my own mental health and well-being. If I'm feeling overwhelmed, that's a sign for me to make some adjustments, not berate myself for failing. The fact that I'm doing any of this at all is a testament to my commitment to my writing, which is impressive all on its own. It's important to focus on these smaller victories rather than overwhelm myself with the things I perceive as "failures." What I have done is more important than anything I haven't done.

A big part of this mentality, focusing on the failure to meet a deadline, is largely drilled into us as children via the public school system (at least in America). While in school, leniency is rare. Late assignments are penalized and students are punished for failing to do something on time, rather than the teachers assessing why the student was unable to complete the task "on time" and trying to find a solution, and being glad that the assignment was completed at all. We carry this fear of failure into adulthood, because it trains people to be employees who overwork themselves and are afraid of asking for help or leniency, aiding a capitalistic society but at great detriment to our mental health.

The fact is, life isn't always as unforgiving as late assignment penalties might make one think, and most people with emotional intelligence will understand life complications and give some leniency. In creative fields, especially, it requires energy that we don't always have, and art should have no deadline. People put so much pressure on themselves to meet deadlines, and while they are a very real aspect of reality, no deadline is more important than your mental and physical health.

While it isn't always possible for everyone, if you can financially afford to get yourself out of a situation that puts a strain on your well-being, please do so.

All this to say, I will still try to maintain the content schedule I've promised (as I said before), but I hope that y'all can be lenient with me if/when I slip up and don't meet a self-imposed deadline. Life happens!

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