On Burnout

In 2015, I helped organize 4 major events. Open Source Bridge in June, PyDX on a weekend in October, PNSQC the following week, and Portland VegFest in November for my new role with the nonprofit Northwest VEG. Also in November, I helped with Compassionate Thanksgiving and the Portland Tofurky Trot, also organized by Northwest VEG. It was a busy year.

I also sat on a panel for PDX Tech4Good (and became a co-organizer of the Meetup group), helped multiple other organizers find venues and contractors, and got recruited to help on a few other projects for 2016. With two co-founders, I’m also looking into a new event space/coworking venture.

With all of that on my mind, I took some time off in December to try to get back to finding a more healthy balance for myself. I definitely felt burnt out and even the idea of work sent me into a spiral of anxiety. I had to focus on self care.

I completely embraced the mundane. I got my wisdom teeth removed, binge-watched all the TV, read YA novels and graphic novels, actually cooked a little instead of all the takeout, started to purge and clean my long-neglected apartment, finally went back to going to the gym on a regular basis, and started thinking long and hard about what I need. For happiness. For survival. For feeding my passions. For creativity. For the part of me that never wants to stop learning. For mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

I have a hard time saying no to people. Sometimes I do things even though I don’t want to, just to challenge myself. But, really, I don’t owe anyone anything. (Well, except my timesheet. I kinda still need to finish that!) And I am acknowledging my limits and am also trying to be more selfish, by actually thinking of myself and putting my needs first. It’s still all very foreign to me.

But this is so very necessary. I was so very burned out in November. I could barely function for most of that month; first, concentrating so much on creating a decent event and making sure the 150+ exhibitors and other people I was in contact with had all their questions answered and were getting everything we promised them. And then, just coming down from the totally exhausted feeling I was left with after it was all over. My body protested, and shut down a bit, due to sickness and lack of sleep and being on my feet running around for more than 12 hours a day and having to remember so many names and schedules and tasks.

My brain needed an information reset, and my body agreed. Between that and needing my impacted wisdom teeth out, I was pretty useless for a few weeks there.

I have been very very slowly transitioning back into it all. I am still constantly tired. And feeling a bit overwhelmed from being pulled in too many directions at once. I have big plans though, and the excitement of getting back into organizing it all has been a huge motivation. I know a lot needs to change though too. My time commitments were more than I could handle. I neglected myself. And that’s something I never want to repeat. It’s no use being a workaholic if I can’t get things done because I’m not taking breaks to recharge and gain back some energy.

This year will be more about balance. Working smarter. Taking care of my needs. And having fun with friends who motivate me. So, enough writing for the night. I have a goal group meeting in the morning that I’m looking forward to. And I know I definitely need some sleep to be at my best.