Student burnout is real

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By Devon Rocke, Opinion Editor

Just 10 minutes before class begins, my alarm goes off, beeping for a little longer each day as I contemplate just how important it is for me to attend school. In the end, my conscience always wins, but just barely. I shuffle out of bed and brush my hair to make it look manageable before slipping into an old sweatshirt. Then, I head straight for my computer and sigh before signing into Microsoft Teams as another gray tile. Instead of being excited to learn, I feel like a ton of bricks wishing to do nothing all day long. The cause of my change in demeanor? Burnout.

According to Helpguide.org, burnout is characterized by “a state of emotional, mental and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” Today, I slog through the day in a constant state of exhaustion, and I know that I am not the only one. The constant pressure to earn good grades in the midst of a pandemic that is so emotionally and mentally taxing really does take a toll. Add that pressure to the preexisting pressure at Conestoga to be involved in as many clubs and extracurriculars as possible and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Students spend hours on their computers, devoid of any social interaction they would normally receive on a normal school day prior to COVID-19, all while being handed mountains of work to finish by midnight. In fact, so many students are failing and have so many missing assignments that it’s become a running joke that spans over countless social platforms. Kids confess to sleeping through classes, cheating on tests, becoming practically sedentary and feeling like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, all because they are struggling with burnout. 

While I myself do not cheat on my tests, I do spend about 98% of my time in my room, and I have taken a catnap or two between classes. One of my worst symptoms of burnout, though, is constantly saying “Just one more week,” hoping that maybe next week I’ll get that spurt of motivation to finally clean my room or that my teachers won’t assign me as much work. 

To put it simply, burnout feels like the movie “Groundhog Day.” The only difference is there is no Sonny and Cher on my radio in the morning, and the world is still turning when it feels like it should have stopped. Students feel frozen, like zombies repeating the same tasks over and over again, just waiting, praying that someday we will be able to come up for air. And who knows, maybe just maybe, if we can find a way to hit the reset button and break the cycle, we just might.