It has been a month since I left my full time job and the only thing that has changed in my life, is the recognition that work was really not quite the problem, I was. In the past month, I have come to see myself with new eyes, reacquainting myself… with myself. It was only recently that I realized that over the last couple of years, I have developed a taste for last-minute thrill and adrenaline rush, allowing myself to be overcommitted and pushing myself to live in a permanent overdrive mode. Instead of appreciating the orderly, I gave myself over to chaos, sustained by adrenaline. If I were completely honest, I was (and maybe still am) addicted to the high that comes from an adrenaline rush. And where has all that taken me? To burnt out.
How do I know I am burnt out? Maybe I am just faking it, some might say. After all, other than looking tired at times, I looked fairly normal and well most of the time. I no longer remember where I read this but it really resonated; that you know you are burnt out when you become a resentful person, where even the most innocent comment feels like an imposition, where you wake up each day preferring solitude and isolation to company of friends and family, when you no longer have any patience for anyone or anything. Each of these are not always visible and where they are, they are more often than not interpreted as bad behaviour due to poor personality, rather than as symptoms of burnt out.
So, what’s to be done?
For a start, I am reading this book by Bill Hybels, titled Simplify, offering a ten-step process to help with overcoming energy depletion. I am learning too to turn down commitments even though I really don’t quite like to say no to things that I know I can do; but presently, the cost to be borne by me, with my general well-being in jeopardy, is too high and not quite manageable. And I guess this is one of life’s ironies, in trying not to disappoint anyone, I sometimes end up disappointing everyone. I am not sure how much progress I am going to be making in the next month, if at all, in refilling this depleted energy bucket. Where I am now, I can perhaps only manage one small step at a time. That said, I am thankful for all the folks who are here with me to cheer me on, and who have been extremely gracious and patient. I am also grateful to be burnt out at this point in my life, where I have the resources and the support of my family to take a break and replenish, where it is still not too late for me to make some u-turns in life.
P.S. If you are reading this and think you might be headed for burnt out, I highly recommend reading Bill Hybel’s Simplify, which has been a much-appreciated lifeline for me.