I’ve been debating whether to post this for sometime, but this article helps even 1 person out there then it is worth it.
Let’s take you back to where it all began around 2 years ago when I landed a great job, that was on-paper perfect for me. In my previous article I mentioned how LinkedIn started my career, well I almost ended it just as quickly as it started.
The thing with social media is you always see the best from people’s lives. I’m such a hypocrite! You always see all the amazing events I work at, the wonderful places I travel to, you never see me behind the scenes. You never see all the hours put in, the overtime, the stress, the worry. And why would we admit to it? The reason I debated posting this article is because I wonder how would people react? Would they look at me differently? Would they think “well she quit her job, she may quit again?”
The thing is, I’ve ways worked hard. I’m not a quitter. I’ll do absolutely everything and anything until it reaches that point. Unfortunately, within a couple of months I did reach that point.
My first role out of university was a huge wake up call. I had so many responsibilities I felt constantly overwhelmed. I didn’t want to look like I was struggling, so I never mentioned I was. I wanted to show that I could manage, when really I wasn’t. I took work home with me all the time to keep on top of my workload, I worked evenings and weekends. This then took its toll on my personal life, it created friction. “Why are you working Meg? You need a break”. I didn’t want to get behind and feel more overwhelmed, so I didn’t take a break. I kept working and working. My colleagues even commented how I shouldn’t do overtime as “you won’t get paid and you won’t be appreciated for it” this then created internal friction. I wanted to prove myself so badly, do a good job not only for the company, and my colleagues, but for myself.
I remember my boss saying “I’m going to throw you in the deep end and see how you get on”. Not only did I feel like I was in the deep end, but I felt like I had weights constantly pulling me down. I was literally drowning myself in work.
I was between a rock and a hard place. If I didn’t work extra then I’d get behind. If I did work extra, I’d be on top of my workload and less worried, but inevitably more tired. Being the workaholic I am, I chose the work option as I like being in control. However, as my personal relationships became strained, I slowly started to lose the enjoyment of work. I slowly started to question “why am I putting myself through this?”, “is this really my ideal job?”.
I lost myself in those 2 months. I put work before everything, including myself. I mentally broke down and I couldn’t cope. I felt like I’d failed. I handed in my notice as I wanted to become myself again.
This is when things took an unexpected turn. Handing in my notice did come at a huge shock to my boss. He asked my why, and that’s when I finally admitted I couldn’t cope. I had the week off anyway, so he told me to think about it. The week away finally gave me time to think for myself without any pressure. I thought about how the role is right for me, just not the workload. How I need to stop doing overtime to remain on top of my workload, how I need to say that the workload is too much. Initially I saw that as admitting failure, now I realise I am only one person and I work super hard, but I can’t do it all!
I was still hurt by the experience, my confidence was knocked, I felt embarrassed. However, I don’t quit easily, so I arranged to work less hours. From there I slowly built myself back up. I acknowledged that I can’t take on the world, and I started to enjoy a work life balance. I appreciated days off more, and I stopped letting work worries overrule my time off.
Admitting I wasn’t coping was actually the best thing I did. Hiding the struggle was the worst.
Once I had admitted it, a huge weight was lifted, and people around me helped. Having a healthy work life balance is vital in any role. You’re no good to anyone if you’re overwhelmed, tired, stressed and not working at your best. But more importantly you need to look after yourself!
If you can relate to this post in anyway then why not book a day off you’ve been meaning to? Go see a film one evening and shut out the world? Go on an adventure with no phone… (that is a challenge!) Never let work change who you are. Never let a job define you. It is okay to not be okay. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
2 years later and I’m now managing even more responsibilities, I manage my workload and other people’s. I’m writing quarterly reviews and plans. I work across 3 business’ and volunteer. I don’t get overwhelmed. I’m more in control than I’ve ever felt. I’m happy. I enjoy my job. I am me again! ????
Author: Megan Owens
Role: Operations Director