I work, a lot. Like home by 10PM, weekend office visits, late night email checks, declining circle of girlfriends due to missed birthdays and limited socializing time, a lot.
Not to say I don’t enjoy my work, but somewhere between the 9 to 5, freelance gigs, managing a website, side hustles and life, things can get a little hectic.
For the most part I manage the madness fairly well. In fact, I usually welcome it. Seldom verbalizing my mental fatigue and congratulating myself for being the I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T, career-focused millennial I was bred to be. If I had to summarize my life in a hashtag or tweet it’d be something along the lines of #OnlyTheStrongSucceed hashtag or “This is the life of a go-getter”. You know, the self -empowering jargon designed to keep hope alive that in the midst of emails and teleconferences, bae, lazy Sundays, recreational reading and Powerball-esque paychecks will eventually find their way to me. Like I said, on most days I thrive on this. It’s my lifeline. The quest for greatness is my motivator, the perfect addiction, my stamp of approval certifying I’ll never be a basic chick and that the world may one day remember my name. Quietly, my ego also appreciates having the admiration and respect of my peers; always being the one “on the go” or making moves. You know, doing real boss chick, grown woman type stuff.
But then there are those days. The days when I wonder if the sacrifices are worth the success. If the late nights are worth the loneliness, or if the hard work, strained relationships, work before love, life and “me time” will even pay off. And like clockwork, the “what ifs” are quickly followed by the guilt of breaking the Super Black Woman Do-It-All code. Like the cultural stigma goes, as a woman of color it’s a given that the journey to the top will be twice as hard, so it’s only natural and expected that I put in double the work with the least bit of complaint, right? I mean if Oprah and Beyoncé can do it, surely I shouldn’t have any qualms about a few late nights and missed happy hours…right? Hmm, well until I have the luxury of sh**ing millions, being single, tired, pumped full of Subway and cross-eyed from a night of emails may be an issue.
Life is short and there are men to be had, drinks to be consumed and blessings to be absorbed. Did God really intend for us to be on the grind 24/7? While “grinding”, sacrifice and over-achieving are essential to succeeding, what good is success if you’re too exasperated by the journey to enjoy the fruits of your of hard work? As I grow spiritually and professionally, I’m learning that success is a 360˚ experience made up of more than a title and decent salary. It’s the perfect blend of professional, physical, mental and spiritual contentment, none of which can be achieved solely from your work laptop. I’m all for “leaning in,” but lean in too much and the only thing left to do is fall.
So, in an effort reduce gray hair growth everywhere, let’s all make a pledge to chill the f**k out.
Now in full transparency, I will admit transitioning out of “grind mode” is a lot easier said than done. Once Monday hits, the rest of the week is literally a blur. Top it off with work that is actually enjoyable and it’s that much harder to step away. But while the process may be glacial, I’m discovering it’s critical to living what Lady Oprah has deemed my “best life.” So, as I begin my journey to breathe again, I’ve made a personal pledge to leave the office on time at least once a week. A seemingly small but actually monumental baby step if you’re anything like me.
As I challenge myself to create a better work-life balance, I encourage you to do the same and carve out a little time just for you, away from the phones, emails, the office and anything else that stands in the way of a much-needed break. Whether it’s a quick jog, new hobby, weekend getaway, romp with the boo, lunch with the girls, or a 15-minute power nap or prayer, allow yourself the time to rest, rejuvenate and regain a solid hold of your total wellbeing. You deserve it, and more importantly you’ve earned it.