So…. because I really do like to think of this space as a bit of a personal diary– highlighting lessons rather than the gruesome details. Writing what I learned, helps me process what went down and also helps to reinforce whatever it is that I truly learned. I also feel like people don’t like to talk about a lot of the problems or issues that they go through. Whether there’s a particular stigma around it… or it’s a slightly embarrassing issue… or it’s just downright taboo. Well here’s the thing, I think we need to talk about the hard stuff. On one hand, I think it levels the playing field. Absolutely everyone has gone through personal problems that impact their daily lives… some more than others, but we’ve all been there. We can relate.
On the other hand, I think that the more you talk about the untalkable, the more answers you’ll find. The more clarity we’ll discover… together.
I spent all weekend with a lot on my mind. I was pretty exhausted from running on next-to-nothing for quite a few weeks. I’ve hardly had time to just breathe. It’s always fun and amazing things (like cool events and hanging out with friends and going on cute dates), but they do add up. I have a tendency to not know when to stop, especially when it comes to work. Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating when I say that I was pushing 13 hours a day at Levo and at least two more hours on blogging. And I always do my major blog (email, Tumblr, etc.) catch up on the weekend. It was never-ending.
I obviously love what I do both at work and on the blog, which is both why I do it and why I spend so much time. It’s like I can’t help myself! I just go go go! Spinning on that wheel at an alarming pace that only seems to increase with time. Sustainable? NO.
I’m the first person to admit that when I start feeling stressed (more than just the everyday stress), I tend to take things to an unhealthy extreme. Control issues? Yep, classic Type A girl move. While my need for control manifests itself in different ways at different times, I’ve really been making an effort to not fall into old traps. These traps are like indulging in a giant dessert. Sweet and amazing at first. And then sickening. Followed by a serious crash. The effort that I was putting into staying healthy and not finding myself down a destructive path was only adding to the exhaustion. It was like running ten miles a day to just stay on top. This downright exhaustion with the huge decisions that had crept up got the best of me.
photo via Simon James Designs
And by the best of me… I mean the whole me. On Monday night, I broke down.
The scary thing is that I had had a bathroom floor moment (like, on the bathroom floor. Hysterical.) earlier that day. Somehow I pulled myself together and decided to keep trudging along. Because clearly laying down on the ground and crying in the middle of the day is totally normal (eep…). I moved through the rest of the day with hives and a migraine and a backache where I couldn’t even sit in a chair normally. Again, why didn’t I pump the brakes then? I don’t know.
The meltdown that night wasn’t pretty. It was emotional. And raw. And confusing. And just horrible. Thankfully I was with people who kind of got what I was going through and concerned, but also understanding. (They definitely dealt with hysterical tears and hyperventilation and incoherent sentences.)
I know way too many girls who haven’t made it through the first year in the city (and some other cities, but mostly New York). It’s a weird place. Everyone is into this unicorn definition of a “career.” Okay, maybe some people are more chill and more relaxed, but I’m going to explain that by saying they’re clearly not first children or they drink different water. Everyone works insane hours (of my friends, 11/day is kind of the “standard”). We leave work and get dinner at nine or maybe ten together. The weekends are spent day-drinking (for the brave) and in crowded bars at night. Late nights for work, late nights for play.
Work hard. Play hard. YOLO. We’re only young once. We can sleep when we’re dead. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
I think we actually know (truly know) that we have to stop… but there’s a part of us that’s either afraid of stopping or not quite sure how. The train that we’re all on will surely crush us if we jump off. The wheel we’re all running with throw us to the wall if we miss a step. How can we keep up if we stop? How can we reach these lofty goals we have set for ourselves if we take a break? How can we be the youngest, the first, the best, if we pause?
I think the better question is how can we survive if we don’t stop? How can we thrive if we don’t take a break? How can we succeed if we don’t pause?
If I had to breakdown (and let’s face it, it was totally self-inflicted), I’m so glad that it happened after-hours at work with people I trust and people who care about me. I think it was eye-opening for everyone. (We all need reminders that we’re not superhuman no matter how much we’d like to convince ourselves that we are.)
I took two complete solid days off.
No iPhones. No laptops. No emails. No phone calls. No work. No Tweeting, blogging, or Instagramming.
Instead it was lots of resting, lots of relaxing, lots of movies, lots of reading.
On Monday night, I took a shower to calm down. The got into bed and woke up at noon the next day. NOON. I read for an hour and then fell back asleep. Then I watched Netflix for two hours and then I fell back asleep. I had a friend staying in my apartment while she was in the city. We talked for a bit and then I went back to sleep. I was awake for five hours.
Wednesday, I didn’t sleep quite that much, but I got a lot of reading done and I even snuck out of my apartment and went to (finally) see The Great Gatsby. I finally got bored and got dinner with friends.
I’ve never needed a break so much in my life.
The world didn’t stop. I learned a lot about myself. I finally could think straight and make better decisions (and get through an afternoon without crying). My friends and family were supportive.
I woke up Thursday with the clearest mind I’ve had in a while. It was a calm, no stress morning. Peaceful.
Now the real trick is going to be to give myself the breaks before I need them. To recover consistently so I never get to this point again.
I’m committing to:
Hitting my sleep goals.
Asking for help and being better at saying no.
Reading every morning and every night. (That’s my true “reset button”!)
Meditating for ten minutes a day.
What can you commit to in order to take time for yourself and to stay healthy?