David Ciorba on the junior overload

So what does the word burnout mean to you?

Burnout is like when you’re gone so hard. You know when when you work to an extent where you’re no longer capable of doing the same amount that you could prior.


And what does burnout look like for you personally?

For me, it’s just giving up on assignments and not doing them or turning things in late by staying up late procrastinating. I like those insider food videos. I’m cutting weight right now so I’m not supposed to like eat very much at all. I lost like, I don’t know, 14 pounds. So I love watching those videos so much.


What normally occupies your day (classes, sports, extracurriculars, or any other responsibilities)?

I was diving in the fall, and then diving overlapped with the wrestling season. So I missed two weeks of the wrestling season. And I’m in NHS and I haven’t done any of my hours yet. And I need to get those hours in ASAP. I’m just keep trying to keep up with my grades. Try and keep the 4.0 is my goal. I’m also in Boy Scouts. I’ve done my Eagle Scout project, but there’s a lot of paperwork I have to do. That mostly occupies my life I think.


Take us through a day in your life. 

I wake up in the morning and I am exhausted. I usually hit my snooze alarm then wake up a second time. Sometimes I fall asleep again, sometimes I don’t. But we’ll say I fell asleep in this scenario. Then I wake up again and I get up. If it’s the day of a [wrestling] meet, I’ll go to the hot tub at about 5am. Sit in there to lose some weight then I’ll eat breakfast. Oh, also, prior to wrestling season, I worked out every morning so I got up at five in the morning. I would work out from 5:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. and  drive to school and then go to school and whatnot. Then I’d have practice until five. Usually I’d stay after and talk to my coaches. And then I’d go home. And if I’m lucky, I only have like two hours of homework. I’m really slow because I like to be meticulous. Usually it takes me too long since I like to eat dinner with my family too. So I’m usually working around till nine every night. And if I’d like to experience some joy in the day I might like play some animal crossing or with my little brother but that’s if I’m not exhausted or if I don’t want to go to sleep immediately so I can have energy for the next day. Then it repeats.


And how do you like act like outside activities like sports and like all these things you’re talking about? How do those affect your stress levels?

My stress level is pretty high. There’s just so much drive today in a society to be really good at everything. And like in sports, specifically, there’s a motivation to specialize. And as someone who likes to do a lot of different stuff, I don’t really want to specialize in just one sport and so I’m specializing in multiple sports like diving and wrestling. And that’s pretty difficult because it takes a lot of time.

It was really agitating to come into wrestling two or three weeks late compared to everyone else. And I felt behind. And then also, in both seasons, there comes a point where I feel burned out in the actual sport. I don’t want to be at practice. Practice feels like it’s five hours long, because I’m ready to go and things get really repetitive. And if my goals aren’t always met, like immediately, I just feel like super down.


Has coming back this year felt more stressful after COVID?

I think coming back to school created some new difficulties that weren’t there last year. Teachers are once again, giving us  a normal workload and this will be my first finals. Real finals I’ve ever had since in my freshman year, it was snowed out. It’s kind of nerve wracking.

For a lot of people who may have used to alternative ways to pass classes, they’re having very difficult times. And though it’s not me, I have a lot of friends who are really struggling in those classes where the skills need to be built up that have been ignored or skipped in the year of COVID and then coming back, expecting to go full throttle.


Describe your biggest burnout moment this year.

It was probably a week before diving state competitions. I was so stressed and I had a lot of issues with friends and drama. So, I just told my coach, ‘I’m not coming to practice.’ And then I went home. I couldn’t finish any way work either because I just couldn’t make myself do it. I think that probably the biggest moment.


Why do you think that burnouts is hitting everyone so hard right now?

Especially in this building., there’s a drive for success within the rhetoric that the school uses, and that teachers use. And there’s a lot of motivation for people to be the best and compare to one another. It’s hindering people’s capability to not get burned out.


How does Ladue’s stress culture affect your stress levels?

Especially in my friend group, we’re all fairly driven academically. And so there’s a lot of comparing and the question. It probably causes me to be more burnt out, but at the same time, I feel like unanimous with other people about it. All my friends can relate to the exact same feeling I’m feeling which is an issue within itself, but also helpful.


What about this year, in particular, is there anything that could have been handled differently?

I think the the longer Thanksgiving break was a good start for mental health awareness. But I don’t think it is the answer.  Everything seems so cheesy sometimes. I think the school district’s goals should really focus on progress and fulfillment for students rather than concrete comparative success between students. That can really hurt students mental health and their ability to grow. 


Do you wish people knew about the stress that you’re under?

I wish they would recognize it a little more and try not to work students so much. It’s hard because we’re driven for success and also we’re focusing on mental health. It’s a fine line. It’s difficult to do both at the same time.


Final question — how common would you say that your experience is across the student body?

I’d probably say maybe 50% of students are feeling how I’m feeling. The majority of people I know.