BWW Blog: What to Do When You're Simply Burning Out: Part 2
I don't know what it was that made last week so hectic. Maybe it was the craziness of midterms, maybe it was the stress of being back in tech, maybe it was Mercury in retrograde or whatever. All I know is that I couldn't have prepared for the chaos of last week if I tried. In the midst of all of the insanity, I found that I had to plan my schedule for spring quarter, and in doing so, I genuinely contemplated what (if any) drama classes I would enroll in. I know that feeling burned out is temporary, but it weighed strongly on me when I thought, what if I just decided to take Literary Journalism electives and phase out of the Drama classes? As I mentioned last week, I'm feeling the mid-quarter slump in full effect, and because I'm feeling so burned out, I wanted to share another tip that helped me when I was in this mentality.
Understand That Learning is Nonlinear
I'm going to be totally honest: I bombed my midterm scene for my acting class. I forgot a whole section of lines, tripped up on blocking, physically tripped up on my shoelaces, and before you ask, of course this is all on camera. I walked out of that class so frustrated that I'd let my scene partner down and messed up all of the progress I've made throughout the quarter, but before I could step foot outside of the room, my instructor pulled me aside to talk.
I explained how I felt about how the midterm performance went for me, and she was actually very surprised when I told her what was going on in my mind during that performance. She could see the frustration on my face during the scene, but truly thought it was a choice, and when I told her what had really happened, she gave me some great advice.
"If it ever happens again, channel that energy into the scene and into the frustration that your character feels in this moment. It fits perfectly in this scene."
I think it was then that I realized that I can learn even in moments where I feel I've forgotten everything I've learned.
Learning is not a straight, clear, direct path to success; a lot of the time, it's kind of the opposite. I learned a lot during the first five weeks of this class. I made a huge personal accomplishment during my dress rehearsal when I felt like I truly connected with my character for the first time. I also bombed the actual midterm performance. Here's the thing: I learned something from all of it. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster, but learning and growing almost always is.
I think many students have this preconceived notion about learning in college that proves to be such a detriment to actually learning. We approach college with the idea that we're going to learn so many new things and they're all going to make so much sense and it's just going to be on the up-and-up. "The learning curve" is taken with a grain of salt, and we all expect that under the instruction of our professors, we are destined to succeed because we are receiving so much information all at once. We must be retaining it all, right?
Sometimes learning isn't acing the test. Sometimes learning is memorizing five sheets of vocab to understand what your instructor is even talking about. Sometimes it's making a bunch of progress only to eventually fail and start back over. Sometimes it's accepting that there are highs and lows to improving and becoming better at what you do. That is the aspect of learning that isn't always highlighted, but I'll promise you this: learning is nonlinear, so stick it out through the low moments because there will be opportunities to improve and grow.
When I'm feeling burned out, I go back to that concept because it helps me realize that even when I feel like I'm not making any progress, I'm still learning. When I go back to class on Wednesday, I begin working on a new scene, and in doing so, I get endless new opportunities to continue to further my learning process in acting. Push through, keep putting in the work, and understand that learning is a process. I said it last week and I'll say it again: I'm proud of you.