Stress

I’ve operated under a number of fallacies up until now.  That I’m above my circumstances.  That most everything can be attributed to being a mental block.  That I’ve moved past pettiness and hangups.  That I can just will myself to work through the discomfort and the pain.

The truth is that those fallacies did little more than obscure the reality of the situation: that I don’t cut myself enough slack, I expect way too much out of myself, and that my stress boils-over too easily.

This is how most high-performance individuals describe how they feel when they’re deep in the proverbial locust-swarm of burnout.

I’ve done a really piss-poor job of regulating myself and pushing back when I need to.  I’ve expended a lot of cognitive and emotional energy on trying to look good and be visible to the right people, but for a lot of the wrong reasons.

I’m going to be completely honest: I feel stuck.  Stuck in my job, stuck in my relationships, and stuck in my progression.  Progress toward what is a whole different topic, so I’ll save that one for later.

What’s hurting me the worst at the moment is progression in my chosen job.  I’ll be completely blunt: I am proficient at what I do, but I’ve never been promoted and I’m afraid I never will be.  It feels like a job more than a career.  It pays the bills and lets me have fun, but for me, that’s not enough.

I don’t wake up excited to go to work.  I generally like the people I work with, but there are definitely personality differences that cause friction (most of it my fault).  I take criticism and poor work outcomes very personally rather than allowing it to be what it is: circumstantial and ephemeral.  I react this way because I’ve wanted to be what a lot of people in my early life weren’t: invested.

A lot of the people I interacted with in my early life portrayed a lot of what they were doing as unimportant or not impactful.  It made my experiences with them very difficult to understand because I would see media and images of other people who were so completely and utterly invested in what they believed and what they were doing that I started telling myself that I had to find what I could be passionate about.  That money and prestige didn’t matter, only the mission.  I was looking for a mission for myself.

What I couldn’t have known then, and I’m still wrestling with to this day, is the fact that there were (and still are) a myriad of personal obstacles to figuring out just what my mission is.

To the current point about burnout specifically, I heavily invested emotionally and physically into the things I was most passionate about that were accessible to me at the current time: climbing, snowboarding, and system administration.  I thought at the time that if I made those my missions and worked at them without distraction and with as much passion as I could muster, that I would discover that one or all of these things amounted to my mission in life.

The plan, as it turns out, backfired in spectacular fashion.

I became so invested in outcomes at work and emotionally attached to, and in some cases dependent on, coworkers and outcomes that I became bitter and belligerent when things didn’t work out or went wrong.

I became so invested in the continuing progression of my abilities at climbing and snowboarding, that disillusionment and disappointment became the norm when I couldn’t perform.

In short: I set myself up for failure by overly-investing and expecting too much.  I expended an ever-increasing amount of emotional and physical energy for diminishing returns.  I failed to obey the maxim “work smart not hard”.  In so doing, I arrived where I am now: in near-complete burnout.

I’m disillusioned with my job prospects, and I’m trying my hardest not to let that bleed-over into things that I try to do to give myself happiness.  It’s difficult to do when you’re also battling depression and trying to find medication that works to help mitigate some of the symptoms.

I guess what I’m trying to say at this point is this: I haven’t done a good job at taking care of myself, setting healthy boundaries, and these have caused me to be a bastard to a lot of people.  I’m trying really hard.  I just need help and a gentle reminder sometimes.

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