If you are not new to my blog then you know that I have recently taken a break off from work, almost 5 weeks in total. I start my new job on Friday, which sadly means that my time off is now coming to an end, so I wanted to take some time this morning to reflect on the time off.
My career has caused me a ton of stress over the past few years to the point where it has turned into pretty severe anxiety and panic attacks and has even bordered on depression.
It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I can say that I know what is causing my unhappiness – my career. It’s been so hard for me to admit that because I have been in this line of business my entire adult life and realizing that I have made such a huge mistake makes me feel like a failure. Not to mention that after 15 years of doing the same thing, I’m hardly qualified to do anything else. I literally have no other experience and that can be a pretty depressive feeling.
In addition to not liking my career, my last role was just not good for me. I was in an extremely toxic environment and every day felt like an uphill battle. Most days I was fighting tears on my way to work, I had no appetite, I was barely sleeping, I felt physically ill almost all the time and I just felt like a shell of the person I should be. With all this in mind, I’m sure you can understand why taking this break between positions has been so, so beneficial to me!
I wish I could say that I have spent my time off doing some great things, but the reality is that I haven’t done a whole lot of anything. I managed to check some things off my home chore list that I’ve been ignoring for a while but for the most part, I have just done what felt right that day – some days that included being busy and getting things done, other days it meant a yoga class followed by Sex and the City and puggle snuggles (the best, by the way!).
I know that a work break is not the answer to a larger problem, but it has helped me to clear my head and see things from a different perspective, which I so, so needed! Here are a few things that I was able to realize during this short break:
- How to slow down: you know that saying, “if you want something done give it to a busy person”? This has been me for years. No matter how much I have going on, I’m always adding more to my plate and it’s rare that I actually feel accomplished. During this break I have (mostly) thrown my to-do lists out of the window and allowed myself to just be and go with what feels right that day, rather than what I feel like I’m doing. It’s been great and such a strong learning experience! It’s really taught me that it’s ok to slow down, take care of myself and not always have a schedule.
- My work doesn’t define who I am: one of the major things I have struggled with in my career is knowing that I don’t fit it, feeling like I have to be someone else and despising the image because of the career I have. I have realized during this time off that my career does not have to define who I am and it’s just a small part of what I do. I definitely need to keep this in mind as I navigate through the next steps of my life and career.
- I am the person I want to be: this kind of goes hand in hand with the one above, but this time off has really made me see that career stuff aside, I like the person I have become and I’m happy with who I am and I don’t need to pretend to be something I’m not.
- I can (and will) feel better: the anxiety that I have been experiencing over the past few years has been nothing short of crippling and at times it has been really tough to feel like I will ever make it through to the other side. This break from work has made me see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s possible to sleep for more than 2 hours a night, to actually want to eat, and to not feel physically and mentally ill all day long.
- It doesn’t matter and it’s not worth it: I think this is the most important thing that I have realized over the past few weeks. It’s so hard to see this when you are in the middle of a situation, but life is way too short to be in a place that doesn’t make you happy! What you think is making that situation worth it, really isn’t. I thought that the money, the nice office, free parking, etc. made it too hard for me to leave, and now that I’m gone I can see that none of those things were worth it.
I’m nervous that I’m about to start a new job in the same line of work, I’m terrified of being caught up in the same kind of situation and I really don’t want to go back to feeling like I can’t be myself and I’m stuck. But! This break has given me a chance to see that there is life outside of anxiety and there is more to me than what I do for a living. If I can keep those thoughts at the forefront of my mind then I think I will be ok. And if not, then at least it’s only a one year contract!