Have you ever had one of those blog posts that has been simmering in you months and months? This is one.
On August 30, I tweeted this:
Am I the only one who isn’t worried about #studentaffairs burnout? Aren’t we all replaceable? Aren’t there new grads every year? #SAchat
Truth be told, I hadn’t thought about it much. I had observed an unusual amount of people tweeting about their burnout concerns (seemingly for others, but never for themselves) and how we as a profession can help those who feel burned out. Not being the most empathic individual, I was unsure why I was supposed to be concerned about burnout.
The more I think about it, the less of a problem I have with burnout. In fact, it’s a good thing. We need it.
1. There is a thought that many new #SAPros aren’t joining the profession for the right reasons… new pros are joining the ranks because they think Student Activities is “fun” or they don’t know what else they want to do or they never want to stop being Greek or they can extend their college career FOREVER! When these pros finally get into the field and see the work that goes into it, many of them experience instant burnout. It’s not what they thought it would be and they go from an energetic person to someone instantly defeated. We don’t necessarily want them to stay if they’re unhappy with their new career field. Shouldn’t we be helping them make a graceful exit and re-entry to a different profession?
2. For our new #SAGrads, its hard to get a first job. There are too many of them and not enough jobs. They’re counting on one of two things: a new pro to be burned out and quit so they can take that job. OR, they’re counting on a middle manager to be burned out and quit so someone in an entry level position can move up, freeing that entry level job for them. This is a twisted circle of life… Mufasa probably doesn’t approve.
3. When you’re burned out, not only are you unable to give 100% any longer, but your student interaction suffers. Maybe instead of “helping” them, we need to be calling out those professionals and letting them know the impact their attitude is having on their respective institution. Students know when a staff member is suffering from burn out. They can smell it.
4. Maybe burn out is nature’s way of telling us we’ve overstayed our welcome at a particular institution. When you notice you are suffering from burnout, its time for a change of venue… or a change in position. As long as you recognize it, I don’t think burnout is something to be feared.
So yeah, I’m not worried about burnout. It’s natural. It happens in other fields. It happens in every office across the country. Instead of being worried about burnout, I want to be able to recognize when it happens to me. That’s infinitely more important.