Flirting with Burnout at RIT

Hey guys, the last few days I’ve been writing a long blog post about my experience with burnout at RIT. This is an important discussion to have because a bunch of people that I know here at RIT has gotten burned out on one occasion or another.

Let me know what you think.

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A post perhaps better suited for somewhere other than this forum, but what the hell.

I didn’t mention it in my introduction, but burnout – caused by flirting – was the final nail in my RIT coffin. First a digression for background before getting to the nail.

When I was doing time at RIT, the campus was on a quarter system: 10 weeks per course rather than 15. I was commuting 15 miles by RTS bus to and from campus, and working part-time to pay for school. No student loans, and though room and board at home was free, that was the beginning and end of any financial support from the 'rents. (Money was a bit tight with eight siblings.)

So. I went broke. Time for an internship. So I unicycled into the co-op office. (Transporting a unicycle on a bus was pretty easy: I could fit the seatpost between my legs, and have the wheel perched on my lap. And I also always had a fife close by. But that’s another story. :wink:)

I parked the unicycle in a corner and sat down:

“I’m broke.”
“So what do you want to do for your internship?”
“Well, I’m a triple-S major. So, computers, obviously. I hate business. So, no accounting, financial, etc. coding. I like science, but didn’t do particularly well in school labs. So, probably also not a good fit. People tell me I’m good at explaining and debugging. I enjoy tutoring. So a school, probably.”
“Twenty years of Rochester winter has been 19 too many. So: South or west. Preferably west. And I never got a license. So, either unicycling distance between work and where I live, or a town with reasonable public transit.”
“Never heard of it. Where is it?”
“Washington, DC. They can put you up on campus.”

So, I bribed a friend to drive me, the unicycle, etc. south. While there, I met a clown – literally, and fell head over heels for her. She taught me to juggle, I taught her to unicycle. Her father was a professional magician who tried – and failed – to teach me magic.

The six month internship came to an end. Back to the Not-So-Great White North. (See “Rush” + “Bob and Doug McKenzie”),

And, therein lies the nail. I could not stand being away from my heart. I decided I HAD to finish faster than planned. I signed up for four advanced computer courses and a calculus class. My academic advisor warned “You’re young and bright and WAY too cocky for your own good. No matter how bright you think you are, you cannot do what you are setting out to do.”

(He, Roger Baker, was also one of my favorite professors at RIT, having taught, among other things, AIC: Assembers, Interpreters and Compilers. Every quarter he’d roll dice to design a new pseudo-architecture, and and a pseudo-assembler and machine language to go with it, implement it, and give cash to any student who found a bug in his working system. Then week by week, he’d remove one component at a time of the system and ask students to write the missing component. But I digress.)

The other thing about the prehistoric age at RIT when me and the other dinosaurs roamed the campus: Back then, there were no PCs, one mainframe, and a “terminal” room with 20? terminals (I may have that number wrong, but “not enough” is the number you should have in mind.) You had to sign up for computer time two weeks in advance, for two hour periods at a time. Couple that with a 15-mile commute each way.

My phone bill went through the roof while my grades went through the floor. I went from Dean’s List to a member of what was jokingly referred to as the Squares’ Club. The fact that someone actually coined “the Squares’ Club” and listed the requirement for membership indicates that burnout was common back then as well: The official qualification for membership: “Take your GPA. Square it. If the number is smaller than what you started with… Welcome!” :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

AND I was a friggin’ zombie!!! Walking dead. That did me in. I bailed with a 0.63 GPA, and tail between my legs, begged Gallaudet to hire me without the degree. Alas, after three years, the clown ran off with my heart and joined the circus – and last I heard was still clowning (freelance, no longer with a troupe), lo these many years later. But Gallaudet did take me in and sheltered me from the real world for many. many years.


Nice! And your boyfriend was right, it was crazy :slight_smile:


Wow, it is almost like you retold my a story of my sophomore year at RIT (minus COVID–19). Last-minute cancellations of RITlug meetings and moving to meetings once every other week was symptomatic of my intense academic and personal burnout in Fall 2016. Not my brightest moment!

That, and 19-year-old me not being good at asking for help – but that’s a different topic. :slightly_smiling_face:

I remember that tower of cans. :grinning:

I applaud your initiative to track and understand your time. :raised_hands: This was insightful and interesting, and it adds a unique, geeky, and thought-provoking angle to personal time management.

This. :100:

I think this was one of my biggest takeaways from sophomore year was that I couldn’t do everything. Even if “everything” is all super interesting and cool things. It also changed my view on the value of mentorship and community too. Being able to involve and mentor new folks into an existing community is important, and sometimes you do have to ask for help if it is all too much. Sort of like you mentioned toward the end about having the support network you had. :slightly_smiling_face:

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