I have just finished reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. Every time I read one of her books, I marvel at how honest she is about her flaws, mistakes and her deep-seated fears. Not many people have the courage to talk about those things, or the interest in tackling such heavy subjects. It’s part of why I love reading her books.
Currently, I’m creating a new career path for myself, post burnout. I feel that I have recovered and I await blood tests to prove it in a few weeks time. I am now on the other side of a momentous life event. Something that shook the foundation of my identity and my life. It changed me, and I’m glad I let it. I now get to lay down a fresh path, on purpose, one that contains all the elements I desire in my life.
I get to choose it. I get to design it. I’m not a victim of what opportunities other people offer me. I’m not at the mercy of a boss who will tell me what I’m worth through flawed corporate processes. I get to design something that is as unique as I am. It’s exciting and a little scary. But this is the very best part of the gift of burnout – that I get to start again. Many people don’t get an opportunity like that in their lives and I am thrilled for it.
Stripped from my old job title, and almost every way I defined myself, it took some time to actually figure out who I was and what I wanted. I spent a lot of time reading during my recovery. I studied positive psychology, I read extensively on what constitutes happiness and I’ve actively included the practices that resonated with me, into my life.
Dr Brown provides ten guideposts for what she calls Wholehearted living. I found it fascinating that I’ve unknowingly incorporated these guideposts into my new life. Things like a gratitude practice are now a part of my routine. I make time for creativity, stillness and fun. I’ve learned to be kind to myself, and to cultivate authenticity. I left WhatsApp groups that didn’t fit with me and I was prepared for the fallout that followed. I even ended relationships that were unhealthy because I knew that my life needed to change. Not just because, but for my very survival.
I learned to really feel the emotions and to connect my head and my heart. I learned that feeling things is critical to really living, and that we can’t enjoy the best things in life if we try to numb the pain. I don’t have crutches like other people do, since I can’t drink alcohol, I don’t do caffeine any more and I can’t drown my sorrows in pastry since gluten and sugar are also out of my diet. I have to actually deal with my problems, and not escape them through addictive behaviours. Date balls don’t really have the same comfort impact as a chocolate croissant. So instead I was forced to face what I was feeling. And I’m better off for it.
Comparing the person on the way to burnout and even during recovery to the person I am now, is so incredibly rewarding. Dr Brown speaks of people who experience joy and that it takes time to cultivate it. I can honestly say that there is true joy in my life now. There was none in the years that led up to my burnout and it took a long time for me to find it. In the past year I started to play. I wrote about it in a blog post about our holiday at the coast. The one where my children said “Mom, you’re like a kid.” Joy has now become part of my existence and I feel so very grateful for the life that I lead.
I now live a wholehearted life where I embrace each day, I live with hope and enthusiasm for my future. Many people might think I’m delusional since I don’t have a clear idea of what the path ahead looks like. But I’ve learned that not knowing is okay and that it will unfold as it needs to. What matters to me is that I believe in myself, I’m kind to myself along the way, and I keep moving forwards towards things that I love and that I find meaningful.Follow me: