Essays

Burn(t) out

Burn out is real.

I forget that, some times, when I’m so busy. I’m busy working hard. I’m busy having fun. I’m busy meeting new people. I’m busy living – and enjoying! – my life.

Until, all of a sudden, I’m not. I’m not enjoying it at all and every day feels like a slog through heavy muck; I am trudging through deep mud and it’s getting stuck on my boots and to my pants and on my hands, as I grasp onto anything to keep me somewhat on my feet and somewhat moving forward (slowly).

I’m exhausted.

When is the moment that the refresh of the weekend then becomes a task in and of itself? It’s hard to tell, the switch, when it gets flipped.

Last weekend, I had the company picnic. The week before was more stressful than most — lots happening that required me to overclock my engine — but I was responsible for helping organize the picnic and as each day ticked on, as we got closer and closer to Saturday, my sleep went from good, to bad, to nonexistent.

  • Half-day business trip to Boston … which meant a 4:30 wake up … from not a lot of sleep leading up to it
  • Shopping for the company picnic
  • My co-organizer’s last minute inability to attend
  • The jump on the list from 20 people to 35 … at Friday 5:30 for a Saturday 10 am start after I’d been shopping before so–
  • Plans Friday night which could not be cancelled
  • Late night grocery shopping after my Friday night plans

But, I rally, I am a person that prides myself on rallying. So I did, woke up the next morning, ready to go, hit up a store for last minute items, headed to the park and–

Where the hell are the grills? The covered the pavilion? The rest rooms? Is that standing water over there?! What the–

And a little part of me, deep, deep inside, went ‘click’ and tired/exhausted became “I need a break.” Of course, I couldn’t just break right then, and I didn’t, and with help from awesome coworkers, we rallied and made a fantastic picnic happen and that was that.

Then, still trying to just keep it going, after the picnic, I met up with another friend for evening rooftop drinks and a late-night chili dogs, before I got home at midnight and crashed.

Except, I didn’t really crash. I faded in and out of sleep, exhausted enough to get some hours, but not enough to stay down, and the next morning found my body aching, my feet really, and there is that moment where your whole soul feels tired and that was how I felt – that is how I feel except this time I’m smart enough to recognize I’m on the edge, very, very close to that tiny edge, of straight-up burnout.

Once the switch is flipped, it really is only a matter of time before all systems go, and then it becomes a mad rush, a Mad Max: Fury Road-type dash, to get to the space and place where refresh and recovery is possible. You can’t put it off; you can’t pretend it’s not happening; you can’t stop it.

You can try, but that is the type of self-deception that you pay for, dearly. And I have paid that price so many times that you would think I’d have developed a better warning system for when I’ve been pushing it too hard, but, we’re all only human, right? I am and I am once again trapped in the chaotic, mad dash to get to a place where I can rest, truly rest.

I’m a little afraid, right now, actually, because I can taste the ash on my tongue.

One thought on “Burn(t) out

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