Being a yes man (woman) is great for business. Clients, scratch that, people love when they ask for something and can get it, no questions asked. For the past 5 years that’s how I’ve been conducting business. Once I have time, it doesn’t matter when or where, I can get your job done.
This has led me to be available for work 24/7, whether I’m at home relaxing, on a greyhound bus from Boston to New York to visit friends, or on a Carnival cruise in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico for a friend’s bachelorette, I’m always available.
Well… as any logical thinking human would figure out, that’s not healthy. After five years, I am burnt out. I’m exhausted all the time, I have no personal time, and I’m still reachable 24/7. I go out to concerts and end up having work meetings mid sets, I get What’s App messages late at night, not with the expected “WYD” but about emails and time availability and I simply cannot do it anymore. I’ve taught my clients that I have no boundaries and that has had a psychological impact on my life.
I do have boundaries, I do need personal time, and I cannot do it all, no matter how capable I am (or think I am). As a creative, my mind is probably my most prized possession and if I continue on the path I’m going, I will lose it (my mind that is).
So I began taking baby steps towards regaining a life outside of work. I stopped answering work-related What’s App messages after 9pm. I stopped checking my email every second of every day. But that wasn’t enough for the magnitude of burn out I found myself in. I needed more. I needed my weekends.
I need time where I’m allowed to not feel guilty about not working. Where I can support friends and their events. Where I can enjoy a meal away from a computer screen. Where I can be inspired by this beautiful country I call home. Where I can just breathe.
Because being a workaholic is stifling and every time I share how tired I am with people their response is always, “That’s good, it means you’re working!” and although I understand that in a recession, as a freelancer, I should be extremely grateful that I do in fact have work to help me afford to live, when did life become all about work? I chose a profession that I enjoy, thinking that life would be easier, or at least more enjoyable, but working all the time regardless of whatever you call “work” could never be “good”. We need breaks. That’s maybe why our school system is structured the way it is: work | break | work | lunch/break | work | home. My life hasn’t had anything resembling that structure since I left the green gates of Holy Name. And maybe that’s what all this rambling is really about, getting some structure back into my life, or maybe, just getting back a life.