As part of my job, I’m supposed to write no less than 2 stories everyday. But this one, I’m writing with utmost care because today, I’m going to pen down my story.
I joined the workforce right out of college. You see, I’m an Indian millennial, and we all know that this generation has too much competition. From a seat in the metro to a job in an MNC, there’s at least 10 people competing with you, if not more. And hence, being the ferociously ambitious girl that I am, I decided I wanted to start early.
I had it all planned for myself. I was in one of the best colleges, became the General Secretary of my department, and I graduated with first division, just like I always wanted to. During my last semester, I took an internship with a media house and gave my exams, and still managed a first division.
I just always wanted to be the best and I was ready to work for it.
So, I set foot out of college trying to emulate the same success I had in my academic years. I wanted my stories to do well, for people to recognize my name, to get messages from strangers thanking me for what I’d written, to go cover events, and basically be regarded as a good professional.
On the first day of my first job, I did surprise my editor a little with my speed. The first impression is the most important one, isn’t it? I tried to think of the best ideas and put my heart into everything I was writing. I quietly wished for my seniors to notice.
And they did.
I would get a mail every time I did well, strangers did message me to tell me about my writing, and people wanted me to come and cover events.
It became a high; to check the numbers and see my article climbing the chart. It became an addiction to get a mail saying I do good work. Six months into working and I already had my first increment.
I got everything I wanted. Till, I really didn’t want it.
Something happened and now, stepping into office seems like a task. My editor is more than disappointed with my speed because I’m slow. And I’m trying my best to write something that comes right out of my heart, but then I lose focus.
I walk into the office feeling tired.
This worried me for a long time because this isn’t how I am. I didn’t recognise this person. I hated myself further because I was giving work way below my capability but I just didn’t have the energy anymore. I slept everyday hating myself for not completing the work and knowing I didn’t have the energy to complete it.
The girl who had it all planned was definitely losing control of it all.
After seeing a therapist, I was told that I’m burnt out.
Burnout syndrome happens when you’re mentally and physically exhausted due to excessive stress. When you’re working but you feel unable to meet constant demands, that’s when you’re burnt out.
The symptoms were right in front of me but I refused to see them:
- You feel like you have no energy left in you.
- Disinterest in your work.
- Loss of appetite or exceptional increase in appetite
- Anxiety, especially work related
I was advised to rest.
Rest, something that our generation knows nothing about.
I didn’t doubt my therapist’s intentions one bit but he can’t just ask me to give up on work and tell my boss I’m too stressed to come to work. I didn’t quite know how to deal with my diagnosis.
I love my work, then how did I end up like this?
My office environment is a balance of discipline and fun. I’m not pressurized into doing what I don’t want to. My editor is a lady who lets me work while I’m sprawled on a couch. There is no more pressure than there should be, then how did this happen?
And that’s when my therapist broke it to me: It is me.
I put unnecessary pressure on myself. I did this to me. I ate into my own ambition.
This isn’t just my story though. It is how our entire generation is.
We put so much importance on our work that we end up losing our minds.
We give up on sleep because we’re aiming for a perfect assignment, we mess up our food habits because we put work first and we try to come to office even when we’re sick because we can’t compromise on work. In fact, even when we’re on vacation, we keep refreshing the mail app. You know, just in case.
Our minds are always working. Even while you’re out having a drink with friends, you’re probably thinking about that one mail you saw and should be working on even if the mail says you’re supposed to work on it in the morning.
We’re absolutely happy giving up our sanity for the sake of our work. It is a race after all.
And we can’t really be blamed. We do grow up on a steady diet of “Career sab kuch hai” or “Is course se toh career ban jaayega.”
We start treating our jobs like they’re not just roles but like our whole lives depend on them. There is pressure in an office environment but it is limited. All that stress is something we put on ourselves because we want to not just make it big, but do it real quick.
We keep ourselves working because we believe we need to be struggling. We end up getting used to working round the clock and if we work even an hour less, we start thinking that we’re not going to be the next big thing.
But the truth is that you can always get another job, that you can always complete that assignment tomorrow and that no one will kill you if you’re sick for a day.