Hamster Wheel

hamster wheel sale

I haven’t really had a Saturday off in almost nine years. Next year I will have been in the retail industry for a decade. Starting when I was 16 at an independently owned business in my hometown, I changed companies a few times and progressed to management.

About a year ago, the weekends at work really started to bug me. I always say that on a Monday, my RDO as a manager, everyone is tired, angry and broke (because all the fun happens on a Saturday). I got tired of missing out on things and tallying up the amount of parties, beach trips, baby showers and engagement parties that I had missed over the years. I couldn’t stop.

As many times as I tried to push it aside and focus on the good of my job (amazing company culture, great co-workers and bosses, free clothes…) I would break down about once a month, or once every two weeks—overwhelmed by the feeling that, despite my best efforts, my career didn’t seem to be going anywhere.

Let me set the scene… On top of working full time hours I was also writing for a stationery company on the side, doing an enormous amount of work for a local TV station, going to church, home group and prayer meeting, leading the youth group, being part of the music team and learning keyboard, trying to maintain a long distance relationship, applying and saving for a visa, keeping a workout schedule at the gym, and trying to have a social life.

Rest? you might ask. When did I do that? My answer: I didn’t. When I would answer my dad’s question of ‘how are you?’ with ‘busy and tired’ he would say, ‘I’m hearing that a lot lately.’ My fiancé Jacques continually asked me if for some reason I hated sleep (believe it or not, I don’t).

As a single girl, out of all the things that I thought might be an issue in my relationship when I finally found an amazing guy to spend my life with (and thank you Jesus I did), the inability to rest was not it. Not even close. I had considered a lot of other things popping up as potential roadblocks, but this one totally blindsided me. When you’re single and living away from home you can get away with a lot more self-destructive behaviour (I’ll sleep when I’m dead, right?).

So I felt stuck in my career—like I absolutely couldn’t move on. I had complete a three year bachelor degree, applied for writing jobs for three years after that and gotten two interviews. In both situations they gave the job to someone with more experience.

Ever been faced with that old catch-22 of needing experience to get a job but then no one giving you a job, so you’re unable to gain said experience? It’s infuriating.

I felt constantly at the end of my tether, I had lost my love for my customers and some things were starting to slip. My boss came to me one day—she has got to be one of the most amazing ladies I’ve ever worked for—and sat me down as a friend to tell me that I was overloaded and burning out. “Something’s gotta give,” she said. As she spoke it suddenly dawned on me why I’d gotten sick more times this year than the last five years combined. Duh, you’re probably thinking, but it wasn’t obvious to me until that moment.

What I realised is that every time I rest I feel guilty, like I’m being lazy. I once heard laziness described as a rest you haven’t earned. But here I was getting sick because I’d worked myself down to the bone. At what point do we stop feeling selfish for taking care of our bodies? For me it took a significant other coming into my life to show me that I needed to slow down and listen to my body, but it doesn’t have to for you.

Six weeks ago I made the decision to step down from my full-time store manager role and drop back to casual.

Oh, I forgot to tell you the good news! The luxury stationery company that I’ve been working for on the side offered me two days a week with them, making it financially possible to free up my schedule and take on a casual role.

And guess what?

I feel the happiest I’ve felt in ages.

Everyone keeps commenting on how happy and relaxed I am. The other day I said to Jacques, “Lil’s back!” If he wasn’t sure what his hyped up fiancée meant, it means that suddenly now when customers walk in I feel a smile automatically burst onto my face—I want to go the extra mile for them. I’m suddenly starting to think about all the messages I haven’t replied to on Facebook, and wondering how are my friends in America going? I feel my creativity starting to come back, now that I have some brain space. Last weekend I was able to go visit my hometown. I drove down on Saturday morning and called up a bunch of friends. Guess what? They were all free. Of course they were. People are free on Saturdays. I felt a freedom and a joy again that had crept away so slowly and so silently that I hadn’t even noticed them leave the room.

I feel like me, and I like it.

I no longer feel that sense of striving, that nagging feeling of failure riding on my back, whispering in my ear in my weakest moments. I feel like my career is finally moving forward. The fact that it’s baby steps doesn’t bother me one tiny bit.

ferris bueller life moves fast

So how is your schedule looking? If you’d have to turn sideways to fit between the gaps, maybe you should do some rearranging. Or blow some big holes in that thing. Resting should not just be a concept. Friends should not just be those people you forgot to reply to. And your hometown (filled with dear friends and family) shouldn’t just be a place that you used to visit.

“He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because he delighted in me.” – 2 Samuel 22:20 (NIV)

Create some space for your soul. Because without it, it withers. And the world does not need more withered souls, believe you me.

 

Sincerely,
Lil

 

Sources:
Image 1: https://www.thestartupsessions.com/blog/jumping-off-the-hamster-wheel-and-finding-your-sweet-spot/, accessed 20 March 2018.

Image 2: https://ahora3jradio.com/35667/ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote/ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote-adorable-download-ferris-bueller-life-moves-pretty-fast-quote-homean-quotes/, accessed 20 March 2018.

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