Experiencing burnout is like driving a hooptie. One day it just starts smoking s0 you have to pull over and abandon it on the side of the road forever. You don’t look back and you can’t revive it. Once you buy a new car, you just forget about the clunker you used to have and keep it moving.
My experience was, perhaps, the classic story of being a proud workaholic for a job that I thought was legendary. But then I soon noticed that I didn’t see my friends as often, my health was suffering, and my mind was turning to a dark place. I had no energy, drive, or even interest in the things I once had. At work, I was going along for the ride and trying to do my best but my fatigue probably made me suffer professionally without even knowing it.
I started a new job in January 2019 and can’t explain the relief that it’s been. The amount of stress and heartache I got from my previous role was simply unhealthy. I couldn’t take any more of the crazy hours, the extremely unkind clients, the unsupportive colleagues, and my out-of-touch boss. I noticed that I too was becoming a miserable grump that I truly didn’t want to be!
Money really clouded my judgements when it came to previous roles and the amount of sh!# that I’d put up with as well as what I’d put out. I was making great sums of cash and quickly seeing the light at the end of the student loan-tunnel. But the insanely money-hungry nature of my job made me feel I had to be more aggressive and less understanding than perhaps I may have been in another company with a different culture. The constant unrealistic pushing on me as a salesperson left me exhausted, a cynic about my industry, and doubting my own abilities.
After I left that position, I needed some serious thoughtfulness in my life. So I’ve been reading a lot of inspiring newsletters to feel some sense of camaraderie around this issue of burnout: I never ever skip anything Debbie has to say from Planner’s Lounge. I love the thought process of Jess from Carats & Cake. Also, Sophia Amoruso of Girlboss drops a gem every once in a while too.
It’s nice to know that the successful women I look up to also have had their moments of doubt. Outwardly, it seemed like everyone was happier and more successful than me but I wondered if that was due to judging other people’s happiness by looking at their online feeds. In this world that we live in of instant gratification (swipe left!) and the endless obsessiveness of social media (hello, Instagram scrolling), I found myself feeling down. Because of that, I deleted my personal Instagram account off of my phone. This one thing has given me so much clarity!
Instagram was a major preoccupation of mine and now that it’s not a temptation anymore, I feel more present in the moment and I feel less need to show off for the world. It’s like that phrase, “Stop comparing your behind-the-scenes with everyone’s highlight reel.” When I told my mom that I deleted Instagram, she said she already noticed because now she gets more frequent calls from me. It just goes to show that I’m now more truly invested in my real life and not my career- or social-persona. I no longer wanted to hang my self-worth on my job’s name and the look of my social media posts.
The result of my burnout was not only my dissatisfaction with my full-time job but also my side hustles. I imposed a constant pressure on myself to write, post to Instagram, as well as Pinterest to feel like a proper blogger. Then I had added at-home stress, plus at-work stress, and it all made me want to avoid writing for 5 months. I finally think I’ve gotten over that internal nagging and want to move on to writing just because it feels good.
Also read this great Forbes article about exactly how to identify and treat burnout. Have you experienced burnout? How did you get past it?