February 1, 2013

Thought Full Friday, burnt out | House of Harvey

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.

And then I read this amazingly honest post by Cassie of The Veda House, and thought to myself, “So, I’m not the only one.”

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.

Thought Full Friday, burnt out | House of Harvey

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


photos from House of Harvey Instagram



  • Amanda

    I was once in your exact place, and it does get better. For me, it took external forces (my mom and boyfriend) to finally force me to let go of some things that I thought were vital to my happiness. I still struggle every day with focusing on the small things that make me happy, like taking naps in the sun or playing fetch with Finn. Especially online, there is so much pressure to “keep up”, and it’s hard to relax when you feel like you could be doing something. Woodworking sounds like tons of fun, and totally removed from your day-to-day responsibilities! I can’t wait to see what you make! Just remember to enjoy it, and not focus too much on sharing your stuff online, or that will just become another source of stress!

    • stephanie

      Yes…the pressure to keep up can definitely get to a person. Thank you so much for your kind words. It is a process. Every single day. We will all find that balance soon enough. Thanks Amanda!

  • Natalya

    Wonderful post, Steph. THANK you for sharing your experiences. I am a willing comrade in the exhausted predicament that is independent drive to “succeed”, but you are 100% correct to remember to be grateful. We define our own happiness, and must be diligent in celebrating that which brings us joy…

    • stephanie

      Thanks Natayla! Totally agree with you that we need to stop and remember to reflect on all that we do have. Need to do more of that.

  • Serena // Pretty Fluffy

    Ahh burnout – I know that feeling. Trying to keep up with a full time job and a full time blog – let alone trying to have a social life, has burnt me on many occasions.

    My favourite thing to do now is give myself a free pass to take a break. Whether it’s on social media, or a blogging break, taking some time to myself and allowing to reconnect to my life not only makes me happier and saner – it boost my creativity and enthusiasm for diving back in again.

    I think a lot of bloggers come from a journalistic/type A background and have been conditioned to always be on the go and giving more. But taking time for yourself is the best gift you can give.

    Just know you’re not alone Steph and I’m so glad you’ve found steps towards what makes YOU happy! xx

    • stephanie

      Thank you SO much Serena for the kind words. While I wish burnout on no one, it is comforting to know that we all struggle with finding the balance at times. And I completely agree about the “free pass.” Going to start doing that a LOT more going forward :)

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