Recognize when your flame’s about to go out

It’s a bit hard to talk about my time with NextGenRadio without talking about burnout. This week I have had to work on the Orion, CalMatters, school mid-terms, the ONA20 journalism conference and the weeklong 9-to-5 work schedule NextGenRadio needed.

And I feel I couldn’t get the most out of NextGenRadio because of it.

I was getting stretched thin on the amount of energy I had for each commitment I had said “Yes” to.

If you want the honest truth, I was scared, worried that I’m not good enough for this industry and that I need to do anything I can to stand out among the rest. To prove I belonged here even if that meant not taking care of myself.

I have seen so many stories about people in the field suffering from burnout. Practically every journalism mentor I have had has experienced it. I’ve seen it in Twitter threads, columns, heard about it in person.

For some reason I felt it wouldn’t happen to me. But ironically enough, by failing to say “No,” it did.

I was so stressed out this week that I had to talk to multiple people about what I was going through. Thanks to my mentors, the CalMatters College Journalism Network fellows and my Orion colleagues, I knew that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. Imposter syndrome is powerful, and I still feel it even as this project comes to an end.

Of course burnout wasn’t the only thing affecting me during this week. For about two months, California’s air quality has been terrible, and everybody is still working from home because of COVID-19 quarantine. Everybody is tired.

The world is chaotic right now, and committing to so much at one point certainly didn’t help, either. 

It’s funny how my main takeaway from NextGenRadio wasn’t about learning how to work in Adobe Audition more efficiently or how to work in a digital environment. (Although skills like these were absolutely useful, and now I don’t know how I could live without them.)

But what I did learn was a lot more personal and probably more important in the grand scheme of things. 

Julian Mendoza

By Julian Mendoza

Julian Mendoza is a student at California State University, Chico, majoring in journalism and minoring in criminal justice. His goal is to break investigative stories that showcase issues in marginalized communities. He’s a fellow at CalMatters and multimedia editor for the Orion, Chico State’s independent student newspaper, where he works on visuals and the weekly news podcast. Julian is from the Bay Area and loves a good run.

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