I’ve just finished my second year of Music School in college! This year, I’ve worked harder than I ever knew I could, and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunities that have allowed me to do so.
So much happened this last school year:
I’ve had my compositions featured in almost every student composer concert…
And I even had one piece performed by the New Music Ensemble.
I was awarded a scholarship for my work as a composer at the end of this semester.
I was nominated to present a Music Theory paper I wrote on a Xenakis piece at the annual student research symposium next spring.
I was accepted to study composition for two weeks this summer at the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy.
And then I ran my first half-marathon to finish the year off:
On the outside, everyone (myself included) would say I’ve thrived this year. I do enjoy my successes, but there’s also a darker side to it:
I’m now completely burned out and utterly exhausted.
This isn’t the typical, “I’m going to lie around and rest on the couch for a few days now that I’m home.” This is, “I seriously wonder if I’ve lost my passion and ability for composing.”
I felt this coming on all semester and tried to fight my way through it while simultaneously denying its presence. On the outside, I have a good life, but in the last couple years, I’ve dealt with some difficult things that have surely contributed to my burnout.
I was only able to complete one composition this semester (unheard of for me). Trying to push through the burnout didn’t work—it only made it worse…
Now, it’s to the point where trying to compose is literally making me depressed, and then it’s even more impossible to work. You can’t simply will your way out of this. You can’t make it go away by “thinking positive thoughts.” No—when composing does this to you, it’s time to take a step back.
I’m going to take a break until I can’t stand it any longer. Then, I’ll get my passion back because I’ll have missed composing so much. At least, this is how I hope it will work out… Maybe I really do just need to rest because I pushed myself so hard this whole year.
Although part of me has legitimately questioned whether I might hate composing now, stepping away from it, even for a week, has been one of the hardest things for me to do, because I don’t feel completely whole unless I compose. And this is why, on some level, I know I haven’t truly “lost” my composing.
For now, I think I’ll just celebrate the fact that I’ve made it hallway through college—and not only made it, but did really well. I’m going to praise God for all of the good things that have happened—and still praise Him through the frustration (and sometimes despair) of my present burnout. This, too, shall pass.
Someday soon, I’ll get past this. I’m still planning for a second album this summer! But first, I need to remember it’s called a “summer vacation“ for a reason…
So readers, I’m curious: how do you fight back against burnout? How do you get your passion back?