If you know me personally or have read anything on my blog before, my story won’t be new to you. But the more time passes, and I continue on this journey, interacting with so many of you, the more I know that my story is important. And powerful. Not because it happened to me. But because it could have happened to anyone.
It’s a story about stress, denial and burnout. It’s a story about ‘distracted living’ and mindlessness. About limiting beliefs and fear. Of failure, rejection, and change. It’s a story most of us share. And you need to read it, so you can pause and take stock before you burnout.
But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Once upon a time…
In 2016 lived a working mum of 3 who felt constantly frazzled.
I used to work 3 days a week, leaving the house half an hour late every morning making sure the children were ready for the nanny to take over. I’d always get to work already late (and frazzled), and work was on-the-go. Come 5pm on the dot, I’d have to leave. Or I’d be late home, where the nanny had been running the show for nearly 10 hours – long day!
My life felt like a constant battle against time. And a battle I was NOT winning. Dinner still needed to be made (how many times did The Husband have to save the day?), children still needed to be fed and bathed, and between stories to be read, children to be put to bed, a kitchen (and house) to be tidied up ready for the next day, I’d collapse into bed exhausted. Every night. Only to wake up in the middle of the night and start stressing about the next day. Because the next day I’d have to do it all again.
Warning sign #1
But on a fine April day, I ended up smashing my head on a bus window. It was a loud and clear sign that things just couldn’t carry on the way they were. And two things struck me:
- I really had to start paying more attention to the present – because my mind was always busy on something else. Trying to work out what to do next, how to save some time, how to do two things at once. The days were passing, and I felt like I was missing it all.
- I just had too much on. I was exhausted, easily overwhelmed, often unable to sleep, always in a rush, constantly worried. And I felt the pressure of the Whole World on my shoulders. Who put it there, go figure? Something had to give, because I couldn’t carry on. Something was telling me (shouting at me!) that I simply couldn’t carry on.
So what had to give?
After looking at things very rationally, as I do, I started to think that the one thing that could go was my job. Yes, I had finally achieved a level of seniority I had worked for for many years. And yes, I had the flexibility to work part-time 3 days a week or work from home if I needed to.
- I was a little miserable.
- I had this niggling feeling that I was such a tiny clog in a huge machine that no one would have noticed if I disappeared. Because yes, I was good, but maybe I wasn’t really meant to be in that job I had been so lucky to find?
- Working part-time meant I wasn’t earning my full salary, so I wasn’t where I wanted to be financially, childcare costs were high, and I wasn’t really ‘utilised to my full potential’ either.
But I couldn’t possibly leave my job, could I?
The internal monologue
When I dared say the words out loud (that I wanted to leave my job), my internal monologue started giving me a really hard time.
“You can’t give it all up. After so many years striving to better yourself and progress in your career, you just give it all up? People would pay to be in your shoes and have your job and your salary. Are you completely mad?”
“What will your parents think? You’ll let them down. They’ll think you can’t be bothered to work. That you want your husband to support you financially. They’ll think you’re a failure. And plus, what will others think?”
“If you let this job go now, it’ll be really hard to find another one when you’re ready to. You won’t know how to do your job anymore, and you’ll be cut out of this career forever. Then what? You will have thrown it all away for no reason. You’ll regret it for sure. You’ll realise you made a mistake, and it’ll be SO embarrassing and humiliating!”
“Plus, what right do you have to say that you’ve got too much on and can’t cope anymore? What do you think everyone else does? Why are you being so weak? And what makes you so special that you don’t have to work? Just stop being ridiculous. Keep working. It’ll get easier at some point.”
Warning sign #2
And so for a few months, I tried my hardest to convince myself that I was ok. That I did indeed have to stay in the job and career. But I still felt unsettled and frazzled. And on top of it all, I felt stuck and trapped, too. Something really had to give.
I had support from lots of people, including The Husband, but I wasn’t yet ready to let go and give myself permission. Not yet. It was only after another opportunity that was presented to me, that I finally felt brave enough to give my notice. I was lucky enough to have a session with a Life Coach, and that cemented a few things for me:
- I really had to start living more mindfully.
- I was merely getting by day by day. Surviving. Not really intentionally and proactively living.
- I didn’t have a clue as to where I was headed and why.
It was hard. It was emotional. Learning hard truths about yourself isn’t always easy. But it gave me what I needed to finally give myself permission.
But what if the leopard doesn’t change its spots?
This is the bit of the story where I, with a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, should have started to see the world differently. Except that I didn’t.
After a 3-week holiday, I slipped back into my old ways. Barely 12 hours after getting home, I went back to that state of feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, on a ridiculous mission to be efficient, to please (whom?) and achieve perfection. And in that frame of mind, I slipped on the stairs and broke my leg.
And that was my cue to slow down and stop. And start that more intentional, mindful living that I knew, instinctively, that I needed to pursue.
I may have broken my leg, but I escaped burnout
I could say that 2016 was the worst year of my life so far. Or I could say that it was an odd year, but that it taught me a lot, and in a way, (although it pains me to say), I’m grateful that it happened the way it did. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for this story. For my story.
I choose to tell the story of a mum who was lucky. Lucky that she got stopped in her (faulty) tracks before anything worse happened. Lucky that she got given the chance to change her ways. And lucky that even though she had to learn the hard way, she got the message in the end.
So yes, I feel I need to share my story. Because so many of us have been or are in this situation, but we struggle to talk about it – we may feel ashamed and lonely, 0r too scared of making changes.
And I won’t stop here…
My story enabled me to start a new path. A better path. A more intentional path full of better and more conscious choices. Your story may lead to a different outcome, but my wish and dream for you are that you recognise that you may be stressed, or that something isn’t right. That you accept that your sensations, feelings, and intuition are telling you the truth. That you decide to take a pause, and re-evaluate. So that you can stop feeling frazzled and unfulfilled. And start feeling at peace and happy instead.
So come and join us on Sunday, the 1st of October in London. Because together with Life Coach Corinne Worsley, host of the Feminine Truth podcast, I’ve organised a ladies-only event where you can share a space with like-minded women and discover what changes you may want to make to your life.
If you want to find out more, head over to our Eventbrite page, where you can also book your ticket, or drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re holding this exclusive event in a lovely hotel overlooking Hyde Park, and we’ll only accommodate 20 lucky ladies, so don’t miss out if you’d like to join in. We promise you that you won’t regret attending. Because we’re not exaggerating when we say that it has the potential to change your life!
What about you? Have you experienced stress or burnout? Have you changed your life as a result?