Illustration: Dani Pendergast

The Burnout Effect

The Pressure to Perform Is Wearing Us Down

Here’s what you can do when you’re tasked with 50-leven responsibilities and have to act like everything is okay (when you’re not)

Published in
9 min readMay 5, 2020


This story is a part of The Burnout Effect, ZORA’s look at the pressures to perform and produce in an already chaotic world.

Hustle culture is as American as apple pie, baseball, and oppressing people of color. The illusion of glory found in grinding is codified in our literature, films, and, probably most effectively, in hip-hop. Nas once quipped that “sleep is the cousin of death.” Nipsey Hussle declared, “I been grindin’ all my life.” And rap’s first billionaire, Jay-Z, rhymed, “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not trying.” But our society’s need to be in constant motion to accomplish goals has left many of us burned out, depressed, and hungry for something different.

That was the case for Danielle Young, a writer, influencer, and self-described “internet person” in Brooklyn, New York City. Though Young has built a successful career by working for The Root and Essence and interviewing celebs like Oprah, Idris Elba, and Lena Waithe, she’s also been battling depression for years.

“B.C. — before corona — it would have been very easy to just lay in the bed,” Young tells ZORA. “When I was working at Essence, I was getting to the point where I was having a hard time getting moving. I would be extremely late just because I couldn’t pull it together. I used to qualify it as laziness and would beat myself up about it, especially living in a city like New York.”

As an on-camera personality for a storied brand, Young was doing something she absolutely loved. Still, she felt guilty about not being able to be “on” and working at all times because of her depression.

Between being told we have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyoncé and the barrage of memes that claim we should be starting a…



Britni Danielle
Writer for

L.A. based writer, editor, and SGRho. Founder: Co-owner: @Houseof334 . Bylines: Essence, Glamour, and The Washington Post