When the spring semester started, I stopped denying myself the one thing that has consistently given me a sense of purpose: English.
I took a literature course and started to seriously consider doing a concentration in English. This meant that for the first time in a year, I was taking five classes, two of which were in the economics department. But suddenly, I didn’t feel as though every week was a struggle anymore.
Even though she doesn’t know me personally, if anyone could have predicted this change, it would have been Yahoo!’s former CEO, Marissa Mayer.
According to her: “Burnout is about resentment. It’s about knowing what matters to you so much that if you don’t get it, you’re resentful.”
What “matters to you” doesn’t have to be related to work or school at all. It’s that underdog fueling your rhythm so you not only get through the week, but regain the eagerness to pour into your work.
Mayer’s idea about burning out actually being resentment was very important to me this year. My unhappiness, indicative of an unsustainable path, slowly dissipated because I found a rhythm that worked. Even when I was tired, it was a happy kind of tired.
Building on Mayer’s idea, I want to propose this as well: you don’t have to “earn” these things that matter as part of self-care or balance. You should have them simply because they are imperative to making you a human, and not a machine, working in the networks around you.
And now, as I always tell my Crimson family when I’m thousands of miles away in a tiny NYC dorm hole, go eat something yummy. Because according to Ms. Mayers, you can have your cake and eat it too.
Crimson Marketing Intern and Student at Columbia University