Burnout: a psychological term for the experience of long-term exhaustion and diminished interest.
Strangely enough, after years of blogging and putting a fair share of my private thoughts in a public space (and many of you have been on this journey with me), I find this post one of the hardest to write. Because it’s somehow harder to vocalise what exactly has been going on.
In short – I am an ambitious career-minded workaholic. Much of it comes from a sense of wanting to be the head girl, having quite a bit of pride in what I do and working to achieve financial freedom (I want a nice life, I want gadgets and toys and I don’t want to kill myself financially to have those things). However, the whole head girl ‘first-in-class’ thing doesn’t achieve anything in an industry that is extremely competitive and thankless and having pride in what you do is pointless when the people around you don’t feel the need to acknowledge your good work. I have also come to the realisation that working ‘for the man’ basically means that you are….working for the man. Not yourself. Somebody else. All your hard work and creativity contributes to somebody else’s bottom line.
Maslow, the bastard, had it right.
When your finances are affected, you are affected and people who say they work for the joy of it…well, they’re lying through their teeth. You work to earn money to afford to enjoy a certain standard of living. You work to earn money so that you can enjoy your time spent away from work.
Therein lies the rub. In five years I haven’t had any leave, except for a trip to Mauritius in December 2009. I certainly didn’t have leave in 2010 or 2011. Not a single day. And while I will not go into the details of it, suffice to say that I would have taken the time off if the opportunity was granted. It wasn’t.
Two years of politics, drama and exhausting days defending every single decision I make. Being reminded constantly that my salary equals every ounce of my blood, sweat and tears. And there have been tears. Two years of being completely drained every single day, having very little interest in the little things that makes life worthwhile and no hobbies or other interests (no time!). My relationship has suffered, all friendships have suffered (too busy to catch up), my health has suffered on a level that I am not ready to discuss and, as I’m writing this, I’m feeling a little sad for the loss of ‘me’. I’ve sacrificed my mojo – and in an industry where having mojo is pretty much the difference between good and phenomenal, it’s pretty tragic that I’ve lost myself so much that I can’t define who Echoes is at 33.
Burnout. It’s such a funny word. But, yes…you’re constantly tired. You forget what it was like before you were constantly tired. Conversely, you’re always falling asleep at 10pm and waking up 2am (incidentally, Insomnia in the age of social media is fantastic. My BB was my lone companion while lying next to a partner who is completely and utterly asleep). And you can tell me nothing of diminished interest. Certainly, my voracious attitude to blogging was diminished. You just have no passion for life. Sure, you can fake passion…but you’re going through the motions.
I finally (and officially) hit my wall in September this year. The Marlboro Man had finally had enough of seeing the shadow of the girl he met in 2006 traipse home to fall asleep on the couch every evening. I suspect the constant issues with my health and disinterest in spending time with my dogs was the final straw. A big reality check followed. It was emotional and fraught and not a happy conversation.
A decision I could happily live with was made.
But, that’s Part Deux of this post.