Looking at phone.jpg

There are so many days when I feel like I have nothing of any import to say. When all the memories of my past mistakes come back to haunt me, when I feel like a fraud and a coward and a fool.

We all have this little inner voice; for some people I think that inner voice was born supportive and nice and encouraging. Those are the people who seem to have endless confidence and compassion, who push hard but not too hard and seem full of a warm, golden light.

For the rest of us, well that voice is a shithead of the highest order.

Oh I know why. It’s there to keep us safe, which historically meant small, unnoticed, not to allow the sticking of one’s head above the parapet for fear of it being blown right off.

The voice gets louder when we’re tired, or ill, or struggling.

It looks for proof everywhere; look, it says, look at all the times you’ve fucked it up royally. All the people who have exceeded you at work or in happiness or wealth or love or fame. Look at all the people who are doing what you wanted to do, there’s no room for you now.

It’s the voice that says ‘you sure about that honey?’ just as you open your mouth in a meeting, only to shut your mouth and blush because your voice has closed over with fear and doubt.

It’s the voice that says ‘and who are you to do this thing’ just as you got the courage up and were about to leap.

It comes out to protect you.

It comes out to keep you safe.

Except, if you’re not a little nervous, a little out of your comfort zone, then you’re simply standing still. not growing. Not developing.

There’s nothing wrong with that per se, we all go through periods of plateau, but almost none of us wants to stay there.

The wishes of the dying don’t include ‘I wish I’d watched more EastEnders and deepened the arse-imprint on my sofa’.

As we run out of time we dream of the things we wish we had had the courage to do, the dreams we should have pursued, the words we should have said.

But we didn’t.
For fear of the consequences.
And instead we stayed small.

I see this most often with the people who know that their work, their life isn’t quite right, that something’s off.

They know the pace that they’re working at is unsustainable.

They don’t feel heard or seen or supported at work or at home.

They have a sneaking suspicion that they’re doing the things that are asked of them but not the things that really, truly, they should be doing.

Going through the motions, walking through the part.

And then I see this in the people for whom the status quo is no longer bearable, that they can’t live this way a minute longer…but they can’t see the alternative so they just keep doing the do, living the groundhog day, hoping a solution will drop right in their laps.

That was me, for so long. Knowing I couldn’t keep going the way I was, it feeling a little more difficult, a little more draining day by day but…. what was the alternative?

Here’s a little life hack for you; you can change the picture or the picture will change you.

You see it’s a war of attrition, living with the slow slide of burnout. The increasing exhaustion, the increasing frustration without any clear sense of a solution, the decreasing will to show up, to give of yourself, the never ending irritation that everyone just wants so goddamn much of you but where is your support? Where is everyone else when you need them?

Over time these frustrations and worries and doubts and fears pile up, like a kid who forgets to take their lunch out of their backpack at the end of the school day, day after day, until their school bag is a festering pile of half-eaten sandwiches and decaying fruit.

At every single point along the way you have the option to change, to step off the path onto a different coloured brick road. Or you can keep going as the frustrations and the fears and the worries and the exhaustion piles up until you crumble under a weight you can no longer bear or, god forbid, something unexpected and dramatic arrives to throw you off you path. Like your mother dies days after your first magazine column is published and the pinnacle of your career and the darkest point of your life collide and wrap themselves up in a Christmas-themed-bow. Ahem.

But what stops you stepping off the path?

Of course, that voice.

‘But what else could you do’ ‘No-one understands you’ ‘You’re the only person who feels like this, you freak’ ‘There’s nothing they can do for you’ ‘You’re on your own, don’t trust anyone’ keeping you on the well trodden path instead of taking that path into the unknown.

That goddamn voice. It gets louder the more tired you become, it pours poison in your ear isolating you from your friends and family and colleagues, it whispers worries under it’s breath at every potential moment of success.

The bad news is, that voice never goes away. Even today, with everything I know, with every fucking word I type, it pulls my hands away from the keyboard, tells me I have nothing to say, tells me that everyone knows this shit already and thinks I’m just an emo-weirdo who arrived to the party a decade too late.

So here’s my prayer for the weary and exhausted.

May you fill your life with pleasures and fun.
May you drown the negative inner voice in a bathtub of unicorn bubble bath.
Let your eyes see and your ears hear the love and support that surrounds you, and may your voice sing louder than the fears the inner voice whispers at you.
May you see the choice in front of you; to commit to change or to commit to struggle and may you have the strength and foresight to adopt a mindset of growth, trust and faith… in yourself, in the people who may guide you and even in that little inner voice.

Thank your inner voice for helping you to see that it only ever wants to keep you safe and explain to it, gently and lovingly, that safe means same, safe means struggle and safe means eventual loss.

For the weary and the exhausted, may you find the strength you need to make the change, before the slow burn out makes it for you.

PS Can I share something with you?

You're not the only person who cries in the loos at work. Or in the shower before work in the morning. Or from sheer exhaustion and frustration after a long and tiring day.

Can I share something else with you? It doesn't have to be this way You deserve to be happy, light, carefree, ready for anything with a smile on your face.

You too can be that crazy woman who jumps in puddles for sheer joy and doesn't give a flying fuck what anyone else thinks of her - because you're too damn busy being happy! When was the last time you truly enjoyed yourself?

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