Aside from sprinting to finalize amendments and flexing calf muscles to balance in heels, Model UN delegates aren’t athletes during committee. Though obviously not of the physical kind, Model UN is a sport. Delegates require the same mental stamina, perseverance, and determination that are core to successful runners, skiers, gymnasts, and every other physical athlete.
Senior year approaches; we’re nearing the finish line of our careers as high-school delegates. Our heads ache from four years of wildly high caffeine intake, and the adrenaline rush that used to fuel our craving for debate dwindles. So, what do we do when we find ourselves nearing the final stretch of our high school Model UN career and losing motivation when it seems most critical?
As with any demanding activity, Model UN burnout is natural. Contrary to what you might expect, you should embrace your burnout and combat the need to resist it. Use your burnout to your advantage, to help renew your passion in the activity itself rather than your motivation to win for the pleasure of winning. Now, it’s your time. It’s your time to debate for yourself–not for college, not for your coach, not for your teacher or club–for you.
Model UN is fiercely competitive, and while healthy competition makes it the engaging activity it is, hyper-competitiveness can sometimes overshadow our passion for Model UN’s original purpose: to debate and collaborate in an effort to address world issues while diversifying our networks with new people from around the country (and world). Use this time to debate a topic you love and to immerse yourself in your research and passion.
The end of your Model UN career blesses you with a break from working tirelessly for the gavel and allows you to consider awards as a natural outcome of your engagement and individual improvements. Don’t resist it. Relish in it.
Another way to combat Model UN burnout is to set personal goals for your senior year. Aim to make these goals skill-based (i.e. to improve public speaking, to establish more command during unmoderated caucuses, to write with more specificity) and not achievement-based (i.e win Best, Outstanding, or Honorable at “X” conference). Model UN burnout occurs partly because we grow tired of pushing ourselves to achieve what does not satisfy us and our development as individuals. Setting skill-based goals combat the self-neglect that leads us to burnout, helping us center ourselves on our own improvement rather than only looking for outside affirmation of it.
Though awards always vary depending on our chair and committee, the skills that those awards intend to recognize often do not. Focusing on improvement over awards makes us more consistent as delegates, preparing us to handle the endeavors of college Model UN and leading us to conquer committee more than we did when that was our main goal in mind.
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