I have held on to this post for over six weeks, but after listening to Arianna Huffington discuss her "a ha" moment -- I decided to share mine. Sometimes we become so enthralled in our work lives it takes over our entire being, and that is not how life is meant to be lived. Arianna stated she wanted us to learn from her experience the importance of de-stressing our lives, and I want the same for all of you. Do not end up like me, in tears and pain, learn from me. You do not have to feel the physical pain to learn, trust me. It's why I am sharing.
For the last five months I have been questioning the next phase in my life and career. I have always known this summer would be a crossroads, but I never thought I would reach this crossroads in this manner. But alas, I am here.
It all began with my wok life going to shit. A new responsibility ended up being an anxiety attack waiting to happen. The new work was so tedious and demanding, I found myself going to work early or staying late every day. Seeing my email never move from 50 unread after a full day of responding became daunting. I found myself angry every day, feeling like I had been punished for my good work with work I hated, on top of my general responsibilities (oh and of course with no new wage).
The stress came to a head on a Tuesday not too long ago. It had been about two months that I had been feeling this pain in my chest, a pain that had been scaring me. So I finally decided to tell my grandmother, an RN, what I had been feeling. After explaining the pain had spread to my left arm, she said, "Baby, that doesn't sound good, you need to go to a doctor." So I listened and called my doctor to make an appointment, but after listing my symptoms, I was told I needed to go to the hospital.
Then I was really scared...
The only thing rushing through my mind was "I can't leave here yet. I can't be sick -- just give me more time." The more my mind raced, the more I ached and each pain scared me 10 times more than the last.
But it was ME. I had sent my body into this turmoil, along with some heartburn. My consistent disdain and disgust with my work situation and the added stress the new work had caused gave me such bad anxiety I was having palpations.
My family had been telling me not to stress, but that is easier said than done. I am a worrier -- that is my crazy. Thinking of all of the possibilities all the time coupled with being so upset and angry at my situation, watching the emails rain in every day, took my worry to a new level. It wasn't just can I get out? -- but when? Will it be soon?
But that day I finally said forget it, I cannot let this bother me like this. Yes, I loved my job -- but the love was now gone and honestly it hurt. But you cannot stay at a job forever, especially not at my age, it is all about progression.
A week after all of this my best friend was hit in a hit and run. Quickly life was put into perspective. There's no time to devote to emotion that does nothing but harm you. There's no time to be so stressed you can't enjoy the one life you have to live.
I am still here (and at my organization) and still learning. The battle with anxiety and stress is an uphill battle, but it is up to us to ensure that we do not let it take us down. Listen to your body and do not let stress take you down. Work is just that -- work. And if you drop dead tomorrow, your job will have your position up by the end of the week.
It's only 40 or 50 out of 168 hours a week for a reason.