Life is a work in progress, and everyone is under tremendous stress to perform. When you’re under constant pressure at work, when your finances are stretched to the limit, or when there are a million commitments and expectations bearing down on you every day, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Sometimes it can seem like everyone wants something from you, and you don’t want to let them down. You’re afraid of what they might think of you, or what the consequences of failure might be. Sometimes you might feel the need to shut down, take a break, and go into hiding for a while, maybe powerwatch the new season of Master of None of Netflix.
This is normal and there’s an expression coined by Millennials that describes it, “Sometimes I just can’t even…” It points to the human need for physical and psychological rest. When you feel like you “just can’t even”, it’s time to take a break. Self-care is easily neglected in the rat races of our hectic modern cities where life goes by at a mile a minute and you don’t want to miss out on what could be.
But you can’t be “on” all the time. If you try, burnout is inevitable. There always comes a time when you need to take a step back and have a reprieve from the stresses and expectations of life. To use myself as an example, last week I took some time off because I was at a point where I felt like I needed a break from everything. For three days I did no freelance work at all. I meditated, went to the gym, watched comedy specials, went out to a poetry show, caught up on some reading, and wrote a pile of new poems. Even still, there was that nagging sense in the back of my mind that I should be working, but my personal health and wellness had to take the front seat for a while. I was stressed and needed to center myself.
Throughout my freelance career I’ve always been so hard on myself. Since I work alone and live alone, I don’t have anyone in my corner offering moral support when the going gets tough, so I used to beat myself up and blame myself for my failings. Now I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself all the time because dwelling on the negative is pointless, and will only increase the stresses I already feel. It won’t help me move forward. Instead, I accept that I’m only human and I can’t do everything at once. I can’t be all things to all people. There are certain things that I’m not good at or don’t feel passionate about.
In my brief hiatus last week, I took some time to consider what kind of writer I really want to be, and what kind of work I’m really passionate about. When you’re working in any creative field it’s important to do work that you feel passionate about, otherwise it’s nothing more than a means to an end and doesn’t provide any real satisfaction. It became apparent to me that for years I’ve been taking on all kinds of assignments that I wasn’t passionate about just for the sake of making a paycheque, and becuase of this I was always burned out and unhappy with my work. I arrived at the truth that I’m a storyteller, a poet and a journalist, not a digital marketer or web content writer. Moving forward, I have to be honest with myself. I have to do the work I really believe in becuase that’s the only way I’ll ever find real happiness and satisfaction in my career.
Most importantly, I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself all the time. Whenever I’m facing failure, or taking on a new challenge, I don’t stress myself out. I just take it one step at a time, one day at a time. If I fail, I take in stride as a learning experience. I’m not Superman. Some things don’t fit with the interests and passions that drive my career forward. I can’t be all things to everyone, and that’s fine. I’m only human, after all.