Do your big career dreams feel like a distant memory?
Sick of struggling alone, feeling lost and overwhelmed, exhausted and just…done?
I get it, I’ve been there and I’m here to help
My name’s Leah and welcome to Searching for Serenity
What is burnout?
Burnout is a syndrome that develops from chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been successfully managed. In short; it means you care deeply and have given too much for too long. The good news is that it is reversible and you don’t have to keep struggling alone with it.
What about imposter syndrome?
This is the pervasive underlying belief that your achievements are not your own, that you don’t fit in and that, if people knew the real you, you would be asked to leave or ‘found out’. If you have ever felt like you are looking over your shoulder at work, denied that you were responsible for a big win and put it down to luck or felt ‘if only you knew who much I’m flying by the seat of my pants’ then you’ve experienced imposter syndrome.
Why do you focus on burnout, imposter syndrome AND stress and resilience. Shouldn’t you just do one thing?
I combine all of these things (together along with time management, stress management, how to manage people and about 100 other mini topics) because they are so interlinked. I have yet to meet someone struggling with burnout who isn’t also stressed (it’s there in the definition of burnout!) who couldn’t do with some help with resilience (resilience is the antidote to stress in many cases) and who hasn’t had thoughts of ‘I don’t fit in, I don’t belong here’.
Stress, resilience and imposter syndrome all play a part in burnout which forms the chronic end of the stress and overwork spectrum. Almost all of us fall somewhere along that spectrum and my goal is to provide the knowledge, training and support to prevent others from hurtling headlong into full on burnout, but you can read more about my story here
Burnout is different for everyone,
where do you want to go from here?
I have been putting this off all day. On past WMH Days I have talked about my own experience of anxiety and depression at work, secretively taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, about the times I’ve been told to keep my struggles quiet.
Those days were easier than today. Talking about suicide is inherently difficult, for all the reasons we already know. But there is something that I want to add to the conversation and that might just make me the most selfish bitch going.
This is one of those posts that most people would think and never say but here goes.
I was admitted to the roll of solicitors 7 years ago this month. Most people have big celebrations, go to the admission to the roll ceremony, get their pictures taken with all their family whilst they’re wearing the black gown etc etc.
I didn’t do any of that.
I was embarrassed.
I was exhausted.
I was already on to ‘what’s next’.
There were lots of reasons why, and I appreciated what a privileged snotty nosed little shit I sound like as I say that, I know just how many people have been desperate to get to where I was and not achieved it. I’m not trying to be an ungrateful wretch, more to share some of those feelings that most of us won’t admit, even to ourselves, that we have.
As I write this I am listening in to my interview on 106.7fm Kennet Radio with Carolyn Luckygirl for her Feel Good Friday radio show.
I’m shaking with nerves, my heart is pounding, my face is flushed and I feel slightly sick.
Maybe that surprises you when I show up on live video, blog regularly, have been called a ‘professional provocateur’ but I still get nervous as hell showing up.
Every time I walk into an in-person event I get butterflies.
I listen again to every single podcast interview I appear on and critique myself.
I have recordings of my appearances on BBC 2, Radio 5 Live and more that are sitting in the archives because I’m still quite nervous to share them.
Why is that?
Because I have struggled with imposter syndrome my entire life and these moments in the spotlight can create a huge flare up of those imposter thoughts.
Does that mean I stop showing up?
Does it hell.
If I could scream just one message right into your face each day it would be this one - you’re doing a bloody brilliant job… keep going!
Sure, it doesn’t feel like it, oh, most of the time.
That’s because you’re a perfectionist type A hopeless overachiever who wants to make sure everyone and everything is perfect before you take a break and you are way too hard on yourself.
Once more for the people at the back - YOU ARE WAY TOO HARD ON YOURSELF!!
Ok, we know each other pretty well by now so can I be honest with you?
This isn’t a Pollyanna special and I have no intention of getting #soblessed whilst talking about topics that are typically A Bad Thing. No-one enjoys depression or burnout. It’s not a happy happy fun time with the Scooby Gang. So why am I grateful?
Toxic workplaces are a constant source of stress for almost all involved but they often don’t appear in the cartoonish fashion we have all come to expect from media representations and, well, articles just like this one.
We all have employment rights now and near-constant media examples of power gone awry so very few of us have to work for long under a screaming bully of a boss or keep a blow up mattress under the desk for the deadline periods (as one friend of mine did in his job!).
However, if you’re a generally resilient person who is beginning to feel the mild nausea and constant pressure then maybe you haven’t realised the impact of your environment, or just how toxic the place around you is.
Here are 10 signs you are working in a toxic environment.
When you say 'I can't do that' I can't help but smile.
Because I know that that's not what you mean.
You mean one of two things;
I’ve been prepared for battle since I was small.
I was always ready to fight my corner, to stand up for the people who couldn’t. Even when I was beaten and bruised I still got back up and tried to fight a new way.
It was the desperate need to fight for what was right that first led me to law. I was a child in the middle of a battlefield and the lawyers led the way out. Made sense from the chaos. Created peace where there had been none.
I instinctively knew I wanted to be one of them because these were people who fixed broken things, found solutions to problems my tiny brain had no clue how to solve.
Somehow I equated being able to solve a problem with being problem-free.
Prolific. It’s a word that terrifies me.
I laugh at people who refrain from using swear words, who say it’s unprofessional or uncouth.
‘It’s just a plain Anglo-Saxon term’ I snigger. ‘It’s just a word, don’t be so silly’
But the thought of being prolific terrifies me.
I’ve been reading this morning and getting so fired up, so ready to rock the entire professional world, that I immediately felt the need to shrink back down.
Up came the old beliefs and speeches, echoed back through my history
‘Who are you to do that’
‘Who do you think you are, you’re nobody’
‘You don’t deserve support, you don’t deserve protection, you don’t deserve love’
‘You’re nothing more than a child with an overactive imagination’
You know the ‘f’ word that terrifies me more than any use of the word ‘fuck’ could?