The Exhaustion Epidemic
Sick and Tired
Exhaustion is Not the New Black
| I'm tired.
Do you remember the old phrase "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired."? If you are not familiar, you will find it rather self explanatory. Usually, this comes in the context of being exhausted over the relatively frequent pitfalls of life. Rather than being exclaimed, this phrase is said out of defeat. Feeling run-down and lacking the strength, motivation and encouragement to move forward. And though that application is relatable by everyone on earth , what I am tired of today is being told it is fashionable to be sick and tired.
It is an epidemic among us women especially. Scrolling through social media, talking with your girlfriends, mom, co-workers...everyone is tired. Our schedules are packed, the hours in the day just seem to be a suggestion on when we should go to sleep, eat, etc. And I understand. Emails do not answer themselves, the laundry (unfortunately) will not wash, dry and fold it self, and your goals will go absolutely no where if you place them on a shelf. I started this blog as a passion project and the work in simply starting this blog, taking pics regularly, posting on social every day, being engaged, all while still holding down and achieving in my full time career AND not neglecting my husband and home...it's a lot, sis. It leads to many late nights, answering emails on the toilet and sitting in stress during a movie just to spend time with T. We are all busy. And when asked how we have been, what's been going on, we puff out our chests and respond in a fake chipper voice, "Girl, I have been BUSY!" Like we are proud of our 4 hours of sleep, missed workouts and half-assed dinner recipes. Why are we wearing exhaustion as if it is some sort of badge of honor?
The culprits? Social Media and personal expectations. On your glossy screens of Instagram, it's blogger after blogger holding the same (albeit necessary) paper to-go cup of liquid fuel, smiling through a caption about "give me all the coffee." And when you find these women, they are successful, beautiful and aspirational. So we put that pressure on ourselves. It's marketing 101. We get this romantic idea that being up late, coffee-fueled and stacking our schedules will give us this light filled, faux-smiling life. It is an unrealistic and dangerous expectation that in order to have it all, we have to sacrifice ourselves in the process. And from there, we begin to blur the line between commitment and effort with self-endangerment. We confuse or define the word "hustle" as being exhausted, overworked and near burnout. We operate under the assumption that this is what we have to do to achieve. Is that not delusional? We can only fool ourselves for a short time before the giant hand of burnout backhands us hard enough that we are sent reeling...losing not only time we could have spent moving toward our goals, but possibly damaging them in the process.
I'm tired of being told that being tired demonstrates accomplishment. That somehow, running on a diet of Starbucks and avocado shows the world that you are going places. It is like saying dangling off the edge of a cliff by one finger is the only way to achieve success. Having an overbooked schedule, the feeling of drowning is something we glorify. Why? We post our #ootd pictures holding our coffees and smiling when in reality, the weight of the stress of all your spinning plates is so great, we forget to eat to meet a deadline. The "rise and grind" mentality is doing our physical, emotional and mental bodies a severe injustice. Rather than burn the candle at both ends, why not light the fire on one side, and replenish the wax when it gets low? Burnout is not cute. Frazzled hair and panic attacks in your car are not chic and NOTHING to aspire to.
And that is why I'm grateful that the trend of "self care" is catching on. Because that is the cure to this disease. What we should be promoting and aspiring to achieve is balance, self-awareness and knowing when it is time for you to take a step back. Being realistic about your goals, mental health, achieving at your own pace, stop the comparison to others...those are ways that we break the cycle of hustle, self-implosion, repeat. It's perfectly okay to say no, spend a few days off social media, have your personal time in the gym/sauna/bathtub without your phone. What good is it to accomplish a task yet not enjoy it because you are too exhausted to do so? Don't get me wrong...the coffee will be a necessity some days. Some nights will still be restless and the burden of my to-do list will sit very squarely and heavily on my shoulders. But in those times, placing myself near the top of my to-do list is just as important as clearing my inbox.
Because why risk defeat before you really have a chance to shine?