For the past two years, I’ve been quietly pondering to recover and heal in ways that I didn’t know I needed. I’ve been a hibernating pupa, sheltered by choice, just waiting for my thoughts to come together and for me to emerge fired up and ready to go. This is my Eat, Pray, Love story. It is series that is part of a conversation that I want to have with the world to shift the way we think about wellness and self-care.
Start at the beginning of The Cocoon:
Introduction: The Metamorphosis: Finding Purpose
I was in my mid-2os, living in New York City and working in fitness at a luxury gym. I was finally making a decent salary and had just completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. Yet, I was sitting in an Urgent Care being triaged for a minor health issue. To my surprise, my blood pressure was around 145/94. What the hell? I knew that I was overworked and stressed out, but Wow!
This was the first time that I burnt myself out of a job. It’s happened a few times and had the potential to happen more, but some positions were contract or seasonal. A few, I just wasn’t invested in mentally.
Why do I keep burning myself out?
Like many, I was taught that hard work would get you places. Put your nose to the grindstone, give 120%, and you will be rewarded. And that is what I would do. I’d pick up extra shifts, take on responsibility whether I was asked or if I just saw it was needed. Working in five-star environments, I’ve been trained to pick apart the littlest detail and address any problems quickly. I would be recognized, promoted, and given the standard raises, but I also never felt truly appreciated for my hard work. To me, it felt like there was an assumption that I would always step in if needed and that my work was taken for granted.
I also aim for perfection. Putting a lot of pressure onto myself to make sure that everything is done correct 100% of the time. But I’d also watch my colleagues do just what they need to and stop. I would always have to go that extra step. With most of my jobs being about delivering a high level of service to keep people coming back, every little personal touch felt as if I was doing to create an experience to remember.
My identity was also too wrapped up in work. Working in the service industry, my days off never matched my friends. I’d work the weekends, when they would be off. I’d need to be at work at 6am and at home by 9pm to be in bed by 10pm, they would want to meet up at 8pm. Frequently, it meant that it was easier to not bother rather than fight with our different schedules. In addition, I’m an introvert working in a very extrovert environment. I’d get home and not want to leave. I fully admit it’s sad how little I saw my friends. Work became my life and my entire schedule revolved around it.
As an introvert, the recovery process week in and week out took up a lot of time. Most of my jobs were physical in nature and required mental concentration with a lot of face time. Now, I love what I do and enjoyed the work, but it meant that I poured a lot of myself into it. I’d need my time away to rejuvenate myself, in order to do it all again the next week. I’d go to yoga, watch movies, read, and cook. Even still, as time went by, I never quite had enough time to fully reset. I began to always felt exhausted, but needed to look and act energetic at work.
My family is immensely important to me, but I rather enjoy living in different places (ideally warm). Most of my vacations revolved around heading back to Boston to visit everyone. I usually needed a vacation from my vacation, due to the many obligations I had.
I would use my vacation time to update my certifications or increase my skills at a conference or training. Eventually, I did put everything aside and went away for 8 days to Panama & Nicaragua for a retreat. It was the first vacation that I had in years that kept me disconnected from work and was one of the best experiences that I had for myself.
All together, I fully admit that I am a personality type who is prone to burnout. I’m not good about setting up my own boundaries and I ask a lot out of myself. I’m eager to be a team player and put my staff and colleagues before myself.
My solution would be to quit, take a break, travel, do some soul searching, and find something new. That would usually end up with me burning myself out again.
Work. Work. Work. Burn Out. Quit. Break. Work. Repeat.
In 2016, I decided that I was done working for others and I would be in charge of my future with my own company. AnamBliss was formed.
Yet, old patterns are hard to break. I still had some healing and soul searching to do.
Continue the conversation in The Start of the A-Ha Moment: What is Emotional Labor?.
Kate Hamm combines her 15+ years of experience in the fitness industry and high-end resort program development into sought after wellness adventures at AnamBliss. Visit www.anambliss.com for future retreat dates and locations.