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The Sneaky Thing About Burnout Is That Fun Things Can Also Lead to It

·664 words·4 mins
Mental Health

One of the most irritating realities of human beings is this: We are really bad at accurately imagining things before they happen.

This means that we are bad at predicting how we’re going to feel before something happens. It’s quite normal to think you will feel one way ahead of time, only to find when you actually get there that your emotions do something unexpected in reality.

But just because it’s normal, it doesn’t mean that this can’t cause lots of stress, hurt, pain, disappointment, and confusion — for everyone involved.

And this predisposition to be rubbish at accurately imagining the future causes problems in another arena — it’s quite easy to not understand how big of a commitment something will be before we agree to it.

Even when emotions aren’t involved, agreeing to more than you can deliver is an easy trap to fall into. The tendency to underestimate how long it will take to do something has a name — planning fallacy.

And I find that it becomes infinitely more difficult when I’m not thinking about a work task — but an interpersonal commitment. Something that should be fun, social, and a positive experience can easily become an obligation if I’m not careful.

I Learned That I, Weirdly, Don’t Like Tabletop Gaming All That Much

A good example from my own past was the few years that I attended a regular D&D group. I had originally joined because my partner at the time was in a gaming group and invited me to come play. I did my best to learn the rules and threw myself into character development. And I was apparently very fun to play with because of my colorful characters. But I curiously didn’t enjoy the activity as much as I thought I would — and certainly not as much as the people around me did. More often than not, our gaming sessions weren’t something I looked forward to, but something I found myself dreading each week. I ended up feeling bored and trapped (bound by my commitment to the rest of the party).

This was curious to me — because I like gaming in general. I play a lot of video games and have since I was a small child. And I’d later go on to be a Dungeon Master for a campaign after my partner asked me to do it, thinking I’d be a good DM. And even though my players loved me as a DM, that standing commitment also felt stifling for me.

Anyway, I learned from that experience that a weekly roleplay gaming session is entirely the wrong format for me. I’m also a bit iffy on board gaming/card game nights. I can do them in small doses, but I don’t look forward to them as much as other people do. I’d much rather sit and chat with people than play games with them. When I went to a gaming convention with friends of mine, I found I gravitated more towards attending panels and classes — and chatting with random folks here and there. I don’t think I played a single game all convention (unless on my phone by myself counts).

Prior to trying all of that, I had no clue.

The Sneaky Thing About Burnout Is That Fun Things Can Also Lead to It

The sneaky thing about burnout is that fun things can lead to it. Not just work-work.

A regular get together — or a standing date night — can start feeling like a chore.

And something that’s supposed to help prevent burnout — and might very well be serving that function for other people — can end up burning you out.

So that’s something I have to keep in mind every time I find myself burned out — which has been many times now. I’ve learned to look at my entire life, not just at work, to find sneaky drains on my time and energy.

The source can be surprising.


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