Burnout Happens.. Even At Your Dream Job

They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

You’ve all heard this before right? And that is totally the goal. To find a profession that you genuinely enjoy so you can be happy going to work everyday.

I’ve found this saying to be true. When I’m doing a show or teaching or writing this blog, I’m usually really happy. I love getting to do that stuff. But also I have a confession, some days it still really feels like work.

There’s a weird paradox that happens when you take something you love, that usually acts as your release from the world and turn that into a job.

I have two examples for you. The first starts in college. Remember how cool it was that you could major in anything? You didn’t have to sit through all those classes you didn’t care about like you did in high school. You actually got to focus on your passions and interests.

So studying musical theatre was like the coolest thing in the world for me. And I’m going to preface this now. I loved it. I wouldn’t trade my education for the world, and I’m so grateful to be a part of the greater theatre community and call performing my chosen career. I’ll also say that it wasn’t smooth sailing every step of the way.

I got burnt out really quickly. I went from enjoying theatre and music as extracurriculars in high school to living and breathing my training 24/7. Every decision, every minute of time was dedicated to what I was studying.

I worked so hard that it almost took the joy out of the work completely.

Even though it was my dream job, it was exhausting and unhealthy to think like that. And that wasn’t a lesson I learned until after my college career ended.

When I first graduated, I did three shows back to back. I felt really fortunate and excited about my career taking off and starting in that way. But January hit after the Christmas contract I had just finished, and I don’t think I touched a script or practiced a song for months. The joy of performing had turned into a stressful thing that I had to do rather than something I couldn’t wait to do. I just needed a break.

Even your dream job can get exhausting. It’s okay to need a break from something you love. It’s okay to find new things you love to encourage work/life balance.

You can turn your passion into your job. You can be thrilled about that and feel totally fulfilled. But you have to acknowledge that once you dedicate yourself to that profession, the activity isn’t leisure anymore. It’s work, and even if you love it, your relationship with that thing is a little different now.

I think my point is that sometimes it’s okay for hobbies to just be hobbies. It’s okay to enjoy something just for the sake of enjoying it. You don’t need to monetize everything and you don’t need to turn your passion into a career if you’re perfectly happy with your current one.

It’s also okay to turn your hobbies, passions, or leisure activities into a profession, but in that case, it may be time to get another hobby. Everyone always needs a release. I don’t care if you’re working your ultimate dream job and you think you could spend 100 hours a week at the office and never get tired of it. I promise, there will be days when you even feel burnt out from that job. So you need to find that thing that you enjoy just because you enjoy it.

No gimmicks. No ulterior motives. A true leisure activity.

I said I had two examples for you, so here is the second. And it has to do with my quarantine experience.

When Covid hit, all my industries went away in a second. No more entertainment, no more theme parks, no more restaurants. So I immediately jumped to two questions: how am I going to spend my time and how am I going to make money?

How am I going to spend my time? Easy! I’ll actually enjoy some hobbies and pursue learning new things and just enjoying leisure time.

How am I going to make money? Easy! Let’s just take all those hobbies and leisure activities and start monetizing them, therefore making them no longer hobbies or leisure activities.

I started writing professionally for an SEO company, which I enjoy, but it means writing my blogs now feels like work rather than a fun, leisure activity. I started selling DIY nail/string art pieces which was nice but became overwhelming when I had so many orders.

Dang it. I turned my hobbies into a job again. Just like I did with acting and singing in college.

I’m not sure I’ll ever stop trying to make everything I do productive and meaningful. To be honest, I just don’t think that’s how I’m wired. And I’m okay with that, because at the end of the day it means my life is filled with things I love. But that also means I have to be okay with feeling a little burnt out of the things I love every once in a while. That means I have to be okay with taking breaks. I have to be okay with constantly finding new things I can do just for fun after my last endeavor turned into something more.

Today, more than most days, I’ll admit I’m not totally sure what I’m trying to say with this post. But I guess like so many other posts, the message is that whatever you’re feeling, it’s okay. It’s great and admirable to pursue your dreams and find a profession within something you love. It’s also okay to enjoy something just for you.

Whatever you choose, just know that feeling burnt out is normal, especially during a pandemic. Your passion isn’t gone. Your dream isn’t dead just because you need to take a few days off. Treat yourself to some time away, because it will make you all the more excited to return in the future.


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