It began in my early twenties.
I was working in the fast-paced corporate world of hospitality events and tourism. In the beginning, it was exciting. I was the girl with the busy calendar, always with an event to attend, or an occasion to go to. From launches to black tie awards nights to social catch-ups galore. I always had somewhere to be or something to go to.
My life was filled to the brim.
Working overtime gradually became part of my norm, while still trying to stick to out-of-work commitments. I was ‘burning the candle at both ends’, being available for everyone, anytime, anywhere. It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to be in the office working until 9 or 10pm at night. I even had a ‘go-to’ late-night dinner menu saved for these times. Unbeknownst to me, I was slowly creating an extremely unhealthy work/life balance. My life became a case of - work, sleep, repeat.
But it quickly caught up with me.
I was aware that I was depleting my mental and physical energy but ignored what my body was telling me. Secretly, the effort of trying to keep up with family and friends, sustain an active social life, attempts to have a love life, and trying to make time for hobbies, was overwhelming me. Stress eventually started to build up within me – but I just got used to it.
‘I felt like my life was like a finely rigged obstacle course, where if one thing went out of balance, it was all going to fall apart.’
Like a pendulum, I was swinging madly, torn between the commitments of my job, and my body crying out for relief. I was heading into burnout. But where was I in all of this? There was no time for me.
‘I was too busy being busy, I couldn’t keep up with myself.'
By the age of 25, I was reaching a breaking point. My physical symptoms were starting to show: tiredness, anxiety, digestion and gut issues, hormonal and female health imbalances, energetic blockages, body tension and adrenal fatigue. Little did I know, these were all side-effects of unmanaged stress, which had become a part of my daily norm.
I was also putting myself last.
I was spreading myself thin and saying ‘yes’ to everything and everyone in all areas of my life, except myself. I had become the ultimate ‘people pleaser’, ignoring what my body and soul needed. Instead of filling myself up with health and abundance, I was drawing myself further and further away from what I deserved most – my own self-worth.
My turning point came on my 26th birthday. It was just past midnight, and I was in the office on a Sunday, at my desk, again, attending to last-minute changes for an event. I sat there looking at the time, realising it was my birthday, another year older. Looking around at where I was, I broke down.
I cried from the overtiredness.
I cried because my body had had enough.
I cried because I couldn’t recognise myself anymore.
I took a big step back and a long hard look at my life. I knew I had to make a choice. My mind and my body could no longer keep pushing on. This was supposed to be the time in my life to enjoy being young and care free, not stressed and overwhelmed and over worked. This wasn’t me and I knew I deserved better than this.
It was time to wake up to the fact I was not being the ultimate version of me.
I was tired of being tired. I realised I neither had the practices nor the know-how to bring myself peace and a sense of calm. But if I didn’t choose to look after myself, then who would?