where wildly different is perfectly normal
The seesaw of boredom and burnout
The seesaw of boredom and burnout

The seesaw of boredom and burnout

You will rarely hear me say that I’m bored. I don’t get bored easily, so it’s hard to remember the last time I was someplace and wanted to chew my leg off to escape. I can sit and stare out the window on long trips and get lost in my own mind (and being a parent, this is delightful). Snowed in? Bring it (there’s always wine in the house). Forced into a meeting on something 1) I don’t understand and don’t give half a golden shit about, 2) know everything about, or 3) does not involve me in the slightest…AHA! That’s close to boredom for me, though I’m more likely to call it angry frustration over boredom. A billion and one things I could and should be doing and I’m stuck, can’t even play in my own head? Yeah.

But burnout. Man, I know all about burnout, I fall into that pit far too often. Most recently towards the end of the school year, right at the end of May. It’d been a long and busy spring. Tom travels most weeks February through May (and works 14+ hour days when he’s home), I was involved in more volunteer activities, the boys had their things, my flute studio was booming, the country was setting itself on fire as it wove the basket carrying it on the greased slide to hell… By the time I hit Memorial Day I was 31 flavors of burned out. Fold, put a fork in me, no mas. I guesstimate I land in the burnout pit at least four times a year. I’m getting good at the entries, making them showier. I may try for a double tuck back roll through a pack of velociraptors during a lighting storm next time. I could sell tickets, pay for the recovery wine.

I don’t recall being like this until college, and then boom! I’d get to end of every semester and literally just sit and shake when it was over. Gradually it got to the point that I was hauling my sorry ass over the finish line, grateful to have survived. November 1998. Third of four grad school semesters. Wind ensemble concert. BIG concert. I had a jazz solo that terrified me (it did not go so well…didn’t listen to the recording for FIFTEEN years…and it was every bit as horrific as I remembered). Got through the concert and crashed hard and big and ugly. It was bad.

Now burnout doesn’t follow a school schedule as reliably as it once did. Damn. At least then I could pencil in the recovery time. Now it hits whenever my mental/physical/emotional energy hits an unexpected low, often with little to no warning. I rarely know when burnout will send me flipping into the pit. It’s taken a toll on my health, and is why I’m becoming more vocal about preventative self-care.

I wonder if those in the gifted community are more prone to this than others. We’re good at many things, and have a tendency to take on too much. I’ve always had too much going on (link to cloaks in many closets). Then, because we refuse to fail at something (especially a schedule or situation of our own making), we overwork ourselves to the point of burnout. Put our own needs last. Little sleep, even less downtime. I see this all the time with my flute students, and it kills me. I can understand why they do that to themselves, they believe that they need a packed resume to get into college. Adults? I think we just can’t say no to our brains’ desire to learn and be challenged and to try new things. Because if we said no…we might get bored.

As I wrote this post (which is long past deadline for the blog hop, because overwhelmed), I was also canning 20 quarts of strawberries, writing other posts to schedule for later this summer, teaching 18 flute lessons a week, beginning to plan my fall schedule, and prepping half the house to paint. Literally half the house, including my office and our bedroom. Sleep? Not a whole lot. Downtime? Even less. Burnout imminent? We’ll see.

There’s a fine balance between boredom and burnout, and I’m getting better at finding it. I’ve discovered that it’s a see-saw and I ride that sucker like a bucking bronco. I’m white-knuckling the handles right now; maybe one day I’ll have the courage to ride one-handed and swing my hat around as I hoot and holler at the top of my lungs.

In the meantime, it’s a helluva ride.


Today’s post is part of of the July blog hop run by Hoagie’s Gifted Education Page. There are a lot of talented people writing on this topic, and I encourage you to go check them out.


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