Illustration: Dani Pendergast

The Burnout Effect

ZORA Presents: The Burnout Effect

We created a collection of stories that center on the pressures — and peace — of productivity and performance for our current times

Published in
3 min readMay 5, 2020

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

Nearly two years ago, while managing a team at my former job, I was overworked, unsupported, and on the brink of burnout. First came the irritability. New work requests and pivots annoyed me. Then came the absentmindedness. Though I was still proficient in my job, I was inattentive at home (I accidentally threw my wallet away the night before an early morning flight — a true moment of exasperation). Finally, my skin decided to have a word with me when it started showing signs of stress-induced eczema.

With each irritation and mistake, I began to see the path I was headed down. Though championing and creating with my team gave me a sense of fulfillment, my loyalty to the labor — all of the doing, the producing — was a detriment to myself. I knew I needed an exit strategy (and a good dermatologist). While I set that plan in motion, I managed to keep from tipping completely over into burnout with Beyoncé-inspired dance classes, journaling, and weekly lunchtime sessions with a therapist. That management plan helped me crystalize a transition out of a job that I was grateful for but no longer served me.

We are not one-woman factories nor are we theater for others.

The plan also helped me honor myself first, a difficult yet necessary thing to do as many of us chase excellence and support others at work, at home, and in our communities. And it’s even more challenging to do in our current times.

While the concept of burnout is not new, we know that it manifests differently in the work and lives we lead. It’s a universal feeling, but it’s also very…

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Rule breaker, champion of women and education, and recovering sports journalist.