I was recently interviewed for a really cool new platform called Shoutout Atlanta. It was an awesome experience and I can't wait to share more about it soon! Their purpose is to highlight local entrepreneurs, creatives, artists, and professionals who are active in their communities and working to make a unique difference in any shape and capacity. It was a really cool honor to be a partner with their organization.
The process was unique- they gave you several topics to chose from to discuss. They aren't necessarily dealing with your career, but more general, interesting, life questions. I chose to share about work-life balance because it's so close to the work I do with women every day who are struggling to find happiness and fulfillment in their lives. Here's a bit of the article I wrote for them, and I'm interested if anyone can relate to the ups and downs of finding balance between work and life:
"My work-life balance, even as a mental health professional, hasn't always felt balanced at all. I graduated from undergrad at 20 and grad school by 23- all while working full time in an attempt to keep myself out of student loan debt. I immediately started pursuing my clinical license, additional certifications, working multiple jobs, etc. Somewhere along the way, I had fully bought into the crazy rat race of life and the idea that "I'll sleep when I'm dead" and "the grind never stops." I was totally burned out and didn't even know it.
Then I suddenly moved out of state and, for the first time since I was 16, I couldn't find a job. I was unemployed for about 7 months and I hit a rock bottom with my mental health that I had never known before. I quickly realized that too much of my Self-Worth and identity had been tied to how hard I was working, what I was achieving, and where my career was headed. I had to take a serious look at how to untangle my worth from my work.
After doing some much needed internal work (with a therapist), I began to redefine what drives my Self-Worth, what brings me happiness, and how to live more in the moment. I realized my perfectionist tendencies constantly drove me to work harder (not always necessarily smarter) because overworking myself felt like my way of proving I was "good enough." It has not been an easy journey and doesn't always feel resolved, but I have much better awareness of when my life is off balance based on my anxiety levels about work/my performance and where I am looking for validation. When I start to notice that work is becoming too intrusive, I'm better able to recenter myself and quicker to make (often tough) decisions that get me back on track with what is truly important to me.
How do I think about the balance? I think society tells us having balance is selfish or maybe lazy or, at minimum, isn't feasible. I think most companies want employees to be scared to ask for balance. I think for many folks it doesn't feel like balance is even an option. And I think every single person reading this should reject that idea. My personal growth has empowered me to turn down several 9-5 jobs that I didn't feel would allow me to have the work-life balance I need. It wasn't part of their work culture and I wasn't signing up for that again. Balance has helped me to be more confident in saying "no" when I need to, without guilt or FOMO on opportunity. It has helped me advocate for myself, my family, and my mental health. In fact, it's even pushed me in new ways to make different (more balanced) goals for myself that have paid off fantastically for my career!
Yes, it can be scary, intimidating, and seem impossible, but I think this is one thing that you can't afford not to figure out. And if I can offer one piece of advice- don't try to do it alone. There are people that can help you navigate this- and you deserve it!"