Notes from the bend in the road
You know the drill. “We gonna change the world”, “we gonna bring (amazing service) to people in need”. Startups, and their wannabe attitude. On one hand I love that, that feeling of significance, and the creative freedom. I also learned what burnout is, and how devastating experience it can be.
Burnout creeps in subtly: you get more than you can handle to keep you motivated. Efficiency, I know. “We are a startup, we need to help each other”. Everybody loves team players, and so you just give that extra energy in.
It only gets more motivating as time flies by. You have to wait for somebody to bring materials, but deadlines never move. “Done by Friday” means you get materials Friday 3p.m., and only if you go and nag somebody responsible, so they can go nag somebody else. Efficiency, team playing.
Running from fire to fire, you notice that nasty pletora of quiet, lingering feelings: anger, resentment, resignation, and fear. You ask for help, slower pace, but the help never comes. One word: irrelevant.
Every morning feels the same: pointless. You start living the Dilbert life, suddenly the Red Bird from Angry Birds is oddly relatable. The fire reached you, and slowly eats you from the inside out.
People you used to like, suddenly start being “oh, that’s you, what I can for you now?”-crowd. Their jokes seem less funny, and coffee seems more bitter. They never notice, coming every 10 minutes with another “I need this right now”. Your dog starts growling at people entering the room.
And then you snap. “I can’t do it right now”, “it’s not something I can do”, “I don’t know”. Suddenly you’re not a team player anymore. You’re uncooperative. You’re bad, you’re afailure, you’re inefficient. Being overwhelmed, burned out, and vulnerable makes you useless.
Nobody listens when you explain that you cannot take 200% of work in your 100% of time. That you need time to think, uninterrupted time to do what you need to do. Silence.
It’s fight or flee now. You desperately cling to whatever positive affirmation you have of yourself. Career change, and moving somewhere else are considered. Burnout takes its toll on whatever the fire can reach. Your friends, your family, things you love are its venerable fule. And you realize finally, that sometimes the only constructive thing is to…
I realized I’m worth a lot, that I can do many amazing things. I could list all of my skills, and you would get bored half-way to the end. I have things to say, I have inspiring thoughts, and feel powerful emotions. It all matters, I’m not a soulless machine.
Failing inhumane expecations was not my fault. I’m not a resource. Anybody can do my job, but nobody will have my drive, and my soul. Motivation comes for free, but it’s not an infinite resource.
I decided to take a step back. Left my job. Looked into myself, really deep into what powers my body, my mind, and my soul. Assisted meditation, nutrition, and sleep can do wonders.
I feel better now. I feel whole, morning is another chance to look with the feeling of wonder at the world. A foggy bend in the road apparently leads to a sunny road with a beautiful view, and a clear sky ahead.