I often think about giving up. Admittedly, today I started my day wanting to give up.
Not on life—no need to panic there—but I am constantly tired of always swimming against the current. I am tired of being resilient. I am tired of life seeming uphill more often than not. When I reflect on it, I believe it’s because I overexert myself. I go full speed, I take no breaks, I put my life on hold, which every now and then leads me to a point where I get frustrated, tired and resentful.
A few months ago, I received a promotion. And it has been exhausting.
Netflix recently launched a series called The Chair, staring Sandra Oh. The series explores the life of Dr. Ji-Yoon Kim, a professor who’s been newly named Chair of the English Department at the fictional Pembroke University, an elite college. In her new role, we see Ji-Yoon struggle to meet the demands of her new position, her role as mother, as a friend, and as a woman. In one of the episodes, she has to make it to a meeting so she drops her kid with her dad, who complains that her family barely gets to see her anymore. Frustrated, Ji-Yoon says: “Appa, I don’t know what you want me to do. This is for my job!” Her dad says “I thought this promotion means you don’t have to work so much.” To which Ji-Yoon wisely replies: “What promotion ever means you don’t have to work as much?”
Right?! When will work ever become easier?
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago, when I had to pull an all-nighter to stay afloat with work and I had a pounding headache that it dawned on me that life is not supposed to be like this. Life cannot be spent working 15-hours days. And you might think, umm that should be kind of obvious… well, yeah. I knew that I was working too much, that it was not a healthy lifestyle, but it never got through me how bad was the situation I found myself in.
So there I sat, at 7:30AM, having not slept at all, having to take a shower to dial into my “first” meeting of the day, feeling tired, frustrated, guilty and extremely mad. And I knew something had to change.
It was as if the universe had heard my unspoken pain and my unheard complaints that I found a book recommendation by Luisa Weiss: “Burnout” by Emily Nagoski PhD and Amelia Nagoski DMA. The term burnout was first established in 1975 by Hebert Freudenberger, a condition that encompasses emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and decreased sense of accomplishment.
I am burnout, and it’ll take time to recover from it. I have found myself needing to take a step back and redefine the important and non-negotiable things in life. I am taking time to find my meaning in life. I am taking time to examine what I want my future to look like. I am determined to savour the days of work, but also the weekends, and the evenings. I am excited to broaden my interests and to go back to one of the things that I love doing the most… classes.