I feel a little embarrassed to say I feel the burnout hitting me. I know people watch the van life views pass by and think it’s this life full of vacation. A little work, a lot of life, and some balance that we’re all chasing because we sit in a more traditional place, four walls we call home, with a laptop and a standing desk. But here I am, out in this world, waking up to the inspiration that Instagram’s algorithm loves, served to feed this craving of whatever we’re not doing right now.
But the truth is that my load hasn’t gotten much lighter. I’m just doing it in motion, constantly planning for or preparing to go, see, and do – and it feels exhausting in a way that goes deep. This burnout from van life feels less like a vacation and more like a laundry list of things that I’m not doing, further complicated by that light on my dashboard that pops on halfway down the road letting me know my tire pressure is low. Again.
In the same ways that a childhood bully might egg you on, I am provoked by this constant pressure to keep going. As much as I know there’s not this binary road of right and wrong, I catch my brain trying to sus it out. Plan ahead. Do it all. That’s what this lingering burning out feeling is like to me: this sinking sensation that I haven’t done everything but can’t do it on time.
The ultimate cure for burnout might be some answer or some plan, but as a self-proclaimed expert in preparing for it all then watching it fall apart, I’d tell you that the answer is less precise, unpredicted. That the only way we’re ever going to find a way to heal from running this hard and fast is to ask for the support we need. To admit, even when it feels shitty and shameful, that we need help. That we need each other.
I use up too much energy holding back the urge to wave my hands in the air and plead for support because I am holding on to the belief that I have to figure it all out before I even ask. The cost is this feeling that I can’t shake after weeks. A burnout sensation everyone wants to prescribe an answer for.
And the only answer I have is this: each other.
I’m not alone. I know you have a friend like me (or you are the friend.) The one that always has it figured out. Can you check in? Send that text. Ask how they’re doing. Ask if they need help. Because as much as I want to bank on things just getting better, I know that hope after burnout exists in that space starts where we help each other.
So today I’ll ask you to check on just two people you rarely talk to. To see if this burnout that has singed our society caught them too. To be the relief that every fire needs to stop burning.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.