EDITOR’S COLUMN: You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep

Burnout is for ego, not heroes

The abandoned AMC movie theater sits in our Historic Downtown as a relic of the past, and a reminder that the first half of our city’s name is wild hyperbole.

It is easy for me to dedicate all of my free time in Big Rapids to a grade point average that may ultimately never matter to anyone else. There is no 95 degree sunshine with a pool, beaches and interesting food that I am consistently distracted by in my Florida town.

After a brief period of red leaves and the unapparent summer air in early fall (to quote Bo Burnham), we will go back to months of gray skies and the college student grind. My friends and I made an agreement recently that we will dedicate more time to going out and genuinely enjoying our last bit of time together as seniors. While I am proud of everything we have worked for so far, I know that each of us have pushed ourselves to unhealthy lengths for a slim definition of success. We forget to include joy on our itineraries.

Our first outing of the semester was to Celebration Cinema in Grand Rapids for a $3 movie on National Cinema Day. We drove an hour to watch a movie that came out months ago and half of us hated it.

“Asteroid City” is the latest perplexing and stunning piece of work from Wes Anderson. It follows a play within a movie, depicting a series of events in a fictional 1950s desert town with junior geniuses, an alien and Tom Hanks. As Jason Schwartzman’s character eventually learns, it is pointless to try to find meaning in every detail of this movie or life itself. A week after viewing, I have already forgotten the majority of the dialogue and plot. One line, however, has been stuck in my head like a song or a popcorn kernel.

Located in Big Rapids’ Historic Downtown, the old AMC theater is a reminder of the past. Photo by: Dylan Rider| Opinions Editor

Near the end of the movie, multiple characters repeat the line, “You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep.” It feels absurdist while watching, and I am certain that some of my friends did not appreciate it. I appreciated it enough on their behalf. No matter how many different breakdowns there are on Reddit for this movie, I will keep to my own interpretation: It is impossible to come back to your full productive potential until you have taken a full break.

As soon as I took up my position as editor in chief, I lost all desire to work myself to the bone. Sure, I would write articles until the sun rose as a news reporter, running on Aldi brand kettle chips and La Croix. Passion is a fuel like no other. Still, I always knew that wasn’t sustainable. With other people depending on me in my current role, overwork is not cute. It is ego driven and irresponsible.

The Torch has put me in the same room as plenty of inspiring leaders. In interviews, they recognize that their own wellbeing has to be their own first priority. I felt more capable than I ever have when I realized that I would do anything to help this newspaper succeed and that includes providing for myself. Nobody wants a leader that does everyone’s job for them. It’s only expected that every job is eventually done by someone.

Stress relief used to live at the bottom of my to-do list and I’d routinely get too caught up in stress to ever reach it. Admittedly, I loved the look of a student taking six classes and writing front page stories on too little sleep. A lot of us want to be the selfless worker that does everything and then some. Unfortunately, that is a fictional super hero story. If you partially put yourself everywhere, you are wholly nowhere.

To “wake up” and reach my full potential this year, I will keep a few basic practices: asking for help, saying no to work I can not give my full attention to, scheduling happy activities and thanking the large group of people that makes the Torch such a great place to work.