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In which John looks like an elderly porcupine and considers the way burnout seems to arrive all at once, just like hairmergencies.

I do feel really overwhelmed and a bit burnt out at the moment, but I also feel tremendously supported and know that I can take breaks as and when needed. Also, I am aware of the fact that I feel this way going into the Project for Awesome every year, so I should not be surprised. And yet somehow I always am! Also, although I do have anxiety problems, I don't want y'all to worry that this is part of a larger thing. I am just stressed out because too much is happening, not because I am falling into the tightening gyre! (...I think!)

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Good morning, Hank. It's Tuesday.

So as you can see, I have a level one hairmergency, and you're probably wondering how I let this happen.

But the thing is, four days ago when I last made a Vlogbrothers video, my hair looked fine! Like I had at most a level eight or level ten situation.

You know, like some kind of intervention would eventually be required. But there was no immediate threat. And then FOUR DAYS later, hairmergency!

This happens every single time. Right after a haircut, my hair is great, and then for a long time, it is good enough, and then one morning, I wake up with a critical situation.

And then I have to call my hair stylist and be like "No! It cannot wait until Thursday! I look like an elderly porcupine."

Now Hank, I am aware that I could prevent this cycle by just saying "Yes" when the receptionist at the hair salon asks me immediately after my haircut if I would like to schedule another appointment.

But I always say no. Why? Because I've just gotten a haircut. I look great! I'm bulletproof!

The last thing I need to do is schedule ANOTHER haircut.

Every single time, I am so weirdly confident that this haircut will end up differently from all of the past ones.

Ughhh! And then ten weeks later, I wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and there's Doc Brown.

So Hank, this is not only a problem for me when it comes to haircuts. I experience this same issue with burnout. Like, I start to think to myself, "I would like to do another thing. I have time!"

I know that I have time, because I have time to think about this new thing I wanna do.

It might be that I'd like to start a weird new podcast, where I review different facets of the human-centered planet on a five-star scale. It might be that I'd like to start a book club, or that I'd like to write a new novel.

And I will tell myself, "This won't be like those other haircuts; this one will end differently."

Now I know what about to say is like a standard acknowledgement in the genre of YouTube burnout videos, but I REALLY like all my jobs.

In fact, I'm in the ridiculously privileged position of being absolutely sure that I like my jobs, because I don't need to work.

I choose to work, and I really love my work, and I want it to have value. Not because I'm like altruistic or whatever, but because it's very useful to me to pay attention to the world outside myself.

The problem is that as I add stuff, it all feels totally and completely doable, in precisely the same way that the hair situation is entirely under control.

Until one day, quite suddenly, it is not under control, and I have a level one burnout emergency.

And the unfortunate thing is that once that starts, fixing it is not usually as easy as getting a haircut.

Because once I start to feel really overwhelmed, I don't like, magically become more productive. I become LESS productive, because being overwhelmed is super time-consuming.

Burnout does not inspire me toward productivity; it inspires me toward a kind of exhausted fatalism.

Also, I forget to schedule haircuts.

Anyway, I have an exceptional inability to see burnout coming, and so when it arrived recently, I was completely gobsmacked. Why was there suddenly so much to do and so little time to do it in?

The answer of course, being that I had scheduled it that way.

I think this happens to a lot of people. Current you imagines that future you will be slightly more productive and energetic than current you is, which is great! That's the kind of optimism that has fueled the human story.

Like, forget about my level of overwhelmedness. Imagine the overwhelmedness of the humans who were like, "We should get into this ocean we can't see the end of and sail over the edge of the world in these tiny wooden boats. Future us will have NO problem figuring out the challenges involved."

So what am I gonna do about feeling overwhelmed? Well, I'm not going sailing; that's for sure.

I do think it helps just to acknowledge it. I also think it helps to prioritize the most important relationships in your life and remember what actually matters, which is not whether the Anthropocene Reviewed comes out on time.

But also, when the receptionist asks me if I wanna schedule my next hair appointment, I'm gonna say YES. And I'm gonna try to pay better attention, in the hopes of being able to intervene earlier, so that fewer level eight situations become level one hairmergencies.

Hank! I am gonna go get a haircut. I will see you on Friday.