RG Insights: Burning Up Over Burnout

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Submitted By: Anonymous

I ’m sitting here and instead of doing my discussion about obesity (as a bulimic), I’m crying and typing this because I am exploited and taken advantage of. My labor is taken for granted – my parents, my professors, my boss. I’m just a worthless contributor to a capitalist society. I’m not a person, am I? I’m an employee ID, a student number. I exist solely to work. I work so I can go to school. I go to school so I can work more and then I can pay for other people to work and so on.

I’m supposed to wear my burnout as a badge of honor. Because if I’m not burnt out, I’m not trying my best, and if I’m not trying my best, I’m not productive, and if I’m not productive, I’m worthless. You see college kids, especially honors ones, bragging about how little sleep they have. The more you sacrifice yourself, the better you are. There is no difference between working hard and working to the point of a mental breakdown. Even with nothing left, you still have to give. You have to give it all for a job that would replace you in 3 days if you died. You have to give it all for a degree, for 3 meaningless letters next to your name. You have to give it all for a broken system. The more broken you are, the better you fit in. You don’t have a choice to not because you have to work to survive. I don’t have a dream job because I don’t dream about working. I’m burnt out. Welcome to life. Overworked, underpaid, underappreciated. I’m supposed to be proud of that. I’m supposed to give everything I have, to be ridiculed and demeaned and overworked for $12.50 an hour? Yes – that’s a “work ethic.” I’m supposed to stay up all night and study to the point of tears? Yes – that’s “putting the work in.” I want a higher pay rate? Doesn’t matter because I’m “unskilled.” Want a school life balance? Too bad – “real life” doesn’t give that luxury. Not in a working society.

If I stop working, I am useless in society’s eyes. Which is unfortunate because I am surrounded by it. I’ve been told I have to make a choice. Between what, I’m not entirely clear, but I do know the actual choice is between survival or societal death. Because if I don’t work, if I don’t have a “real job,” I’m not helping the capitalism. I remember when my boss from my last job asked me to stay late and I said no and she told me, “Why? You’re just gonna sleep” and I told her “Yes, and I deserve that time to rest.”  I wish I still had that fight in me but I don’t anymore. I accept that kind of treatment is inevitable. I’m nothing if I’m not working. My mental health matters, but only when it doesn’t affect my productivity. Panic attacks are a part of life. All-nighters are inevitable. I don’t have the energy to fight it anymore. Its my path. Born into America – I can’t avoid the working curse. What you don’t understand is I can’t take a break. I haven’t worked hard enough for one. I haven’t been broken enough. My break comes when I end up in a psych ward and even after that its “return to work as soon as possible.” My want for fair pay and balance is greed and selfish. I should be grateful I am exploited. It’s not exploitation – its “opportunities” and “experience”

Is it so radical to think we shouldn’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to simply survive? Why is everything monetized? If the United Nations declared access to safe drinking water a universal human right, why is there even a water industry, let alone a monopoly? What authority figures do is take advantage of our human instinct to survive. That’s what capitalism is. In a nutshell at least. When there’s a chance for someone to make money, it must be taken – even if it severely disadvantages others. Even if one person benefits while millions suffer.

I want to dance. I want to spend time with my dogs. I want to play in an orchestra. I want to make new relationships. I want to rescue kittens. I want to bake and play piano and practice medicine nonprofit. But instead, I’m sitting here – still crying – about to go do my discussion so I can get my degree and be exploited because such is life.


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