Early in my career, when I heard the
word burnout, I thought of aging. I imagined a senior professor who
hadn’t updated his wardrobe or his lecture notes in three decades,
someone who was stealing a position from a younger, more dynamic
scholar. A burnout was a dinosaur, a silverback, deadwood. Something I, an ambitious and talented new faculty member, was sure I would never become.
I held onto that image right up until the point when — tenured and still in my 30s — I burned out. The job that I had prepared a long time for, that I had succeeded in,
and that I was sure I would do for decades to come had become dreadful.
It was ruining my life. When a good opportunity for a change came up
(not for me, but for my wife, who was offered an academic job halfway
across the country), I decided without hesitation to quit and go with