I can’t lie to you, oh faithful readers. The last month or so has been rough. As optimistic as I was about champing it through this final overloaded semester and managing to avoid burnout- I didn’t make it. As usual, I naively strolled right into a massive crash and burn, and just like every time before- the Universe rubbed it in my face in almost every way possible.
The first signs were pretty obvious. My still recovering leg was acting up constantly, and during a few weeks in october I was still in a battle with WCB to receive more treatment (which I finally did get). I re-started rehab, but stepping back into that place (mentally) even though it’s what I do for other people on a daily basis– kind of brought back frustration for the injury, and for the time it’s taking to heal. I consciously know that nerve damage can take a long time to heal… but my subconscious I think is still resentful towards the fear towards my sport, the struggle I had all summer with riding, and the pain I still often feel on a daily basis. The fact that I’ve let this injury take me from an athletic, motivated person to a unmotivated on-a-break athlete who frequents the gym to train others.. but not herself.. hit me hard in October.. and was just another stressor. Then…Getting two midterm assignment marks back that were WAY below my expectations. An exam where I mixed up two words, which lost me 8 marks on the major long answer question (on a topic I know backwards and forwards), and a paper where upon rereading it, I realised that I didn’t even make sense through most of it (and fully deserved the mark I received). I reacted to this in the most usual way, by sobbing uncontrollably on the phone to my guy while sitting in a parking lot outside of work.
The next sign was partly just the universe being a jerk, but mostly my fault. Since moving downtown (like super downtown), I’ve been lucky. Unfortunately, since my brain stopped working through most of October, the weekend following the initial signs of burnout lead me to forget my wallet, passport, chequebooks, and medical supplies in my car while it was parked on a street a few blocks away from my building overnight. I had specifically planned this weekend where I was stuck in the city covering football and basketball to be a weekend where I could try and counter the effects of burn out I could feel coming on. Saturday was going to be a girls night, and Sunday would be a clean and finish unpacking and take a break from stressing about school day. Saturday went just fine, after spending the day with my mom, covering a basketball game, and then making pizza with the girls. At about 2am I realised I’d forgotten all those items in my car 3 streets away, but decided to exercise street smarts and not walk by myself through downtown to retrieve them. Forgetting about it in the morning, I went out to get into my car to drive out to the barn for some saddle therapy on Megg’s horse.. only to find my lock pried open and ALL of those above listed items gone. Serves me right, I know. And so, the weekend began and ended with me sobbing uncontrollably on the phone with J.
This is how burn out works. You neglect the little things. The little things you miss pile up and form a few big things- which send you over the edge.
The Universe continued to throw things in my face.
A few days after all of this, I woke up to my entire car being gone. My first thought was (honestly) “It’s been stolen… thank god.”. Turns out it’d just been towed. The sign saying “street work, tow away zone” was at the end of the block, and I didn’t see it. Since I still didn’t have any ID, or credit cards.. my loving father bailed me out of that one.
So, within a week, Life showed me that my balancing act was no longer working. I realised that if I was going to get through this term in one piece, it was time to reorganise my priorities- seeing as having all my commitments as a priority was only causing my blood pressure to spike and my emotions to run high. I’m pretty sure both my mom and J were getting sick of listening to me lose my mind too.
What have I done to fix it?
It’s hard to cut off from most of my commitments, but what I have done is start taking away things that are important, but not as important as kicking the rest of this semester’s ass. First to go has been work. While I probably won’t be able to get rid of my remaining November shifts, I’ve requested that I have December off- definitely the two weeks of exams. Football ended right as burn out was at it’s highest, so that freed up 3 hrs every day where I’ve been able to put time into either school work, cooking, or catching up on sleep or brain rest. This has been immensely helpful! I’ve also tried to move as mush as I can to earlier in the day.. so I’m not working our out and about until 10pm every night. Also a huge difference.
I’ve also made the conscious decision to get myself back into shape, regardless of the frustration stemming from my leg. I’ve been motivated and back in the gym (as well as rehab as needed for the leg) training myself 3-4x a week for a few weeks now.. and while I’m sore almost all the time- it feels good to be back into that mindset. Yes it adds something to my already stupid schedule.. but it’s something that makes me feel whole, and to me that has to be a priority. I feel I’ve been tested a lot lately by the universe.. with getting questioned almost daily as to if I am still riding, and then having to explain why I’ve taken a step away from the sport I’ve been so committed to. The first few times I got asked these questions it caused doubt and fear to arise- but after taking time to think about it, I recognised that I’m happy doing what I’m doing, and that is more important then worrying about my future in the sport that will wait for me. It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but I know in my heart it was the right one.
For now my biggest goal is getting through the remaining couple weeks of this semester without any more major break downs. I’ve done it before, I will do it again. Soon I’ll be done course work and another giant step closer to my career. Since I’ve made these little changes, the Universe seems to be slowly getting back on my side. My balancing act is once again getting better- all I had to do was take a few things out of my hands, and juggle some other things around. A prof the other day commented on me looking tired, to which I replied that I was trying to cut back on my commitments.. but wasn’t doing so well. His response was: “No.. you are a person who needs to be involved in everything. It’s what makes you tick. Be patient, you’ll do alright”.
2 more weeks, 3 more papers, 1 more presentation, and 4 more exams.
See you on the other side!
PS: I’ll write an update on all my more uplifting moments soon- I’ve been kept busy with KSA milestones, personal research, and new teams even while being burnt out! Stay tuned for more on that!