Exhaustion is a feeling the workaholic has come to know well. Perhaps he has even convinced himself he thrives on it as a way of coping with the stress and fatigue. Working too hard for too long takes a toll on us. Exhaustion is something women know all too well, as we more often than not carry the burden of the household and family on top of our professional duties. We are expected to be caregivers, chefs, launderers, keep track of all doctor appointments, birthday parties and social events… and many of us have a full-time job for which we are responsible on top of all that! Not only is there exhaustion from the mental load of all these responsibilities, but we often must work harder than men in order to be taken seriously. I have seen many men in my career who sit idly by, comfortably doing the bare minimum. Whether it’s insecurity in my own mind or the blatant truth, I feel positive that if I were to do the same, I would not be respected and certainly wouldn’t be offered the best opportunities for my career.
On the topic of exhaustion, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Although some of us hate to admit it, it is probably true that ‘women have to do things twice as well as men to be thought half as good.’ And it is probably also true that we can produce at a level that boggles the mind.
What we tend to ignore is the cost. Working as hard as we do and as long as we do is exhausting. Sometimes we dread becoming aware of how tired we are. Sometimes it almost seems as if the marrow in our bones aches.
Women have a tremendous fear of feeling our tiredness. We are afraid that if we let ourselves feel it, we will never get up again.”
Lately, I have felt less than simply for stopping myself before the point of exhaustion. I often worry I am a slacker, I’m not trying hard enough, I’m not working hard enough, I should really do more. These insecurities bounce around in my head and chip away at my self-esteem, when truly it is just that I no longer want to work myself to the point of sheer exhaustion and mental breakdown anymore. I’m tired. It feels good to take breaks and give myself the mental space to breathe, to approach my work calmly, and not to run around like a spastic person who is positively frantic with worry. It feels good to prioritize my health and happiness. It also feels unknown and a bit scary because I have done just the opposite, prioritizing work above all else in my life, for so long. I’m important and so are you. Take time for yourself. Give yourself the time you need to complete things without overexerting yourself. Your future self will thank you for it.