Hi, I’m back. I had to take a little break, but it’s for good reason, I promise. I’ve had a volatile few months, it’s true. After working virtually non-stop since May (I have had 4 complete days off during this time, including weekends. It’s November) I finally reached burnout not too long ago. I thought burnout was for finance bros and M&A lawyers – I didn’t think it was for creatives like me, but here we are. It happened.
I was stolen from twice; I stopped my birth control which in turn gave me a hell of an emotional ride in itself – hormones, hello; I gained weight and couldn’t fit any of my clothes; my anxiety made a reappearance after several years from professional pressure; I was tired; I was lonely; I was unsure.
Last month I was at the end of my tether. All my projects were piling on at once, I was growing to hate my job, and I never got to spend any time with my dog, let alone go out and see my friends. Then I met someone new, and it finally felt like a ray of sunshine on my life. Add trying to juggle new love into the mix and my candle that I had been burning at both ends was a mere stub.
So, what to do?
In times of personal strife, it comes down to knowing who you are – by yourself. What recharges you? What makes you drop your shoulders that have somehow unknowingly worked their way up beside your ears?
For me, it’s getting outdoors. If you had told me when I was 19 years old that it would become a pillar of my mental stability to get out and see some trees and move my body, I would’ve laughed. I’ve come a long way from relaxing at a noisy pub, chain-smoking with my mates. Now, I long for wide, open spaces. Clear breath clouding the snowy view in front of me. Climbing mountains, and then driving home to head out for an evening walk. Always moving, going to bed tired and sore – but happy.
I escaped back home to my parent’s place for the weekend, knowing that it was bad timing in my new relationship, and a bad time in my work life, but I knew I needed it, feeling a brick wall fast approaching and knowing I was moving towards it at full speed.
When the world seems consistently grey, I have to remind myself to get outside and see colour again. It doesn’t matter that outdoors the sky is cloudy, and you have to wear a few extra layers; I know that when I’m out there I feel better, and that’s because I’m carving time out for myself. Lately I had fallen into the trap of thinking I had no time for myself, and funnily enough it works out that I can go out for a run, or walk my dog in the park, and come home and do the same amount of work that I would’ve done if I had been sat at my desk the whole time. Perhaps my brain works faster knowing it’s had a reprieve from staring at a computer screen. That’s probably true.
As for that new love, I got broken up with – effectively clouding over my ray of sunshine and sending my world into darkness again. When you feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to focus on all the bad and none of the good.
In the end, I’ll repeat to you what I repeated to that guy when I was gracefully trying to swallow being shucked to the side like an oyster without the pearl: “This sucks, but life is good.” Remember to step back and look at the big picture. We live so much of our lives with a fisheye lens, so close that we can only focus on what is happening right now, right in front of us. Take a step back, appreciate how far you’ve come and where you’re going. Look at your life’s trajectory and feel grateful that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Life changes quickly. You can do hard things.
If you still feel lost, remember to appreciate the little things that we have no control over but are still beautiful. A full moon on a clear night; a rose bud covered in morning frost; the crunch of autumn leaves under big boots. As I’m writing this, I’m watching the Houston Open on TV by myself. I know none of the players, but one man shot a birdie, and his second swing was one of the most magnificent shots I had ever seen. I sucked air through my teeth, and the word, “Beauuuuutiful,” reflexively slipped out of my mouth as the ball effortlessly dropped into the hole. The world can surprise you, all the time.