on burnout


Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud taken by the Hubble Space Telescope

According to Google, the definition of the word “burnout” is as follows:


  1. the reduction of a fuel or substance to nothing through use or combustion.
    “good carbon burnout”
  2. physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.
    “high levels of professionalism that may result in burnout”

A lot of things burn out. Stoners, cars, people, stars you name it. The topic of “burning out,” while peaking in popularity in the 1980s, comes up on a frequent basis–especially within the work force.

About a week ago, the Hubble Space Telescope found giant stars that they’re calling “monster stars.” Nine of these dozens of stars (although I strongly believe that this is only a small portion of what’s out there) that are 100 times the mass of the Sun. I don’t know what you use for units of measurements, but that’s pretty huge.

Oftentimes we go through things that bring us down, stress us out, or simply exhaust us–which inevitably leads us to burnout. I guess having this small (or rather gigantically huge) reminder that there are greater things out there that are bigger than these things, it doesn’t seem like the end of the world anymore. Not to discredit anyone’s overwhelming feelings because they are, in fact, very valid. But isn’t it a little comforting to know that what we might think is so big and scary isn’t really that big and scary in the grand scheme of all things? I’m not claiming these monster stars are big and scary–they’re just beautiful.

As someone who is right in the middle of the highly stressful environment that is known as college, it’s easy to think that everything we’re graded on, judged on and sometimes dependent on, is what the number one priorities in our lives should be or else it’s the end of the world. I realized this past week after being bombarded with final assignments and projects that I cannot and I will not prioritize every single thing at the same level–it’s not possible. So it’s organizing and learning what I care the most about, what I’m the most passionate about, and ultimately what makes me happy in the long run.

So how does one overcome burnout?

Someone once told me he gets through the day by simply telling himself, “Tomorrow is a new day.” I guess I’ve always known that, but when I’ve become overwhelmed with life, I remind myself of that sentence, and it really does make everything feel calmer. Each day we get up, we do our stuff, we mess up, and we go to sleep–I guess it’s a cycle that we often don’t notice because it’s subtle. Maybe that’s just me.

There are things bigger than us, bigger than the sun and bigger than the universe. You don’t have to carry the weight of every single thing on you.

– dale


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