The other day, I screamed aloud five times in my office. Mr. Harvey came over to my desk with every yelp, confused at what was going on, and I quickly shooed him away in a fit of rage and utter exhaustion.
It was one of those days where thing after thing went wrong, from malfunctioning websites to misplaced items to painful ear infections. It was a doozy and I was slowly breaking down.
I was so grateful to read this honest glimpse into another confused/overworked/completely exhausted soul, that I wrote her a–what felt like a novel–long comment, thanking her for her honesty and letting her know that I am sitting on the same train we call “burn out.”
While Cassie may just be realizing her burnt out feeling, mine, unfortunately, has been here for quite some time. You might think that it started this past October when I finally embarked on the nerve-wracking freelance journey…but no…this has been an incredibly slow burn that actually sparked in 2010.
I had just received an M.A in Journalism from New York University and was eager to land my first, full-time job as a working journalist (whatever that means). Well after a year and half, 1,278 resumes (yep, I counted) and 17 interviews (not including second and third rounds), I was STILL unemployed. I was “under-qualified”, “over-qualified”, “undesired”, “unexperienced”, but most of all, I was feeling undervalued.
It was a tremendously difficult time in my life, one I choose not to dwell on, but has forever since dictated my career path.
In 2010, I was finally given an internship at a local publishing company here in LA, and quickly rose in the ranks. I found my eagerness again, and was ready to climb higher….so I did. I took on every responsibility and task that was offered, often taking on too much. I was so grateful for a job and was ready to prove my worth.
I eventually moved on to several different positions at different companies and began acquiring freelance work. I was hungry…insatiable really…and I wanted to “collect” as much work as I could, in fear that something might fall through. Unemployment would never be an option again.
Enter present day, I’m working with and for several clients at a time, while pursuing personal side projects. I love what I do (most of the time) and I feel soooooo incredibly lucky to work with the clients and companies that I do….(very lucky actually). BUT–here it comes–I am completely exhausted.
I am so tired, that I haven’t been out to see friends in three weeks. I am so tired, that I forget to eat meals throughout the day. I am so tired, that my laundry pile should be declared a state hazard….just not right!
So what am I to do?
I truly feel that this struggle to keep my head above water will lead me to a wonderful ocean view one day. But it’s hard. And sometimes (most of the time), I want to quit. But I won’t. I can’t.
So as I continue to navigate these troubling waters, I am choosing to seek out the little moments of magic to guide me through. I am now making it a priority to carve out time to visit with friends, do the things that make me happiest or just sit for a while in silence.
I recently started woodworking again (a passion I’ve had since childhood) and it has brought a sense of zen back into my world. Just sitting with my tools, scrap wood and ideas. Bliss. It’s sparked my inspiration once again. I can’t wait to share more with you on this front soon!
Whatever it is that brings you peace, I highly recommend you take an hour, two or 20 to really close off from everything else and just do the things that make you unbelievably happy. It may only be a moment of calm in the storm of life, but it truly helps you re-focus and breathe for bit.
I struggle with living slowly. My fears of being without often clouds my need for relaxation, and my anxiety of falling behind is keeping me from true balance. I am now realizing what my personal threshold is and am making small changes to reach a lifestyle that suits me best. It takes time and patience. I am learning the art of both.
If there are methods that work for you to keep the balance/sanity, please do share. And I hope you all find a path that makes you happy and fulfilled.
Steph + Harvey