Lately, I’ve been feeling a bit uninspired. If you’re a returning visitor of my blog, you’ve probably noticed that my last article was published more about three months ago, that I’ve been consistently inconsistent with posting, that I’ve been off social media, and that in general, I’ve been somewhat unusually quiet. No bubbly Olga anymore. No creative juices flowing out and about. No exciting travel destinations to share with you.
It’s not like I wasn’t trying, though. I was.
But the fact is, for a while now — in fact, for more than I’d like to admit — my creative process looked somewhat like this:
And trust me, for a blogger, there ain’t no dream more horrid than the one about a blank white page and a blinking cursor. And lately, I’m proud to say that I’ve been living the dream 100% — just not the kind of dream I was always dreaming for. It takes ages to get words on paper, it takes forever to combine them into sentences, and it takes longer than infinity to sculpt paragraphs that would make sense. Why’s that?
Well, the truth is that I’ve been THAT close to have a massive burnout. And when I finally recognised the signs, I decided to put blogging — as well as ‘life’ in general — on hold. What were the signs? Glad that you asked:
I started to suffer from tremendous fatigue. I’d sleep 9 hours every day and yet feel exhausted all the time.
I became a more negative person. I’d get tired of hearing my own complaints.
I became extremely forgetful. I’d never remember anything people told me.
At home, I couldn’t stop thinking about work. And yet at work, I couldn’t stop thinking about being in bed at home.
I lost motivation to do anything. So I’d stay in and watch TV series.
I was never satisfied with my results. I’d always feel that my input vs outcome ratio isn’t in its right balance.
I started to take less care of myself. I’d abandon my beauty routines, stop exercising and participate in long, excessive chocolate marathons instead.
My life/work balance was clearly off.
I substituted all the things I used to love — blogging, reading, travelling, drawing, playing piano, exploring, meeting with friends, etc — with slices of pizza, episodes of Keeping Up With The Kardashians (don’t judge me), piles of unfinished books, and a zombie-like attitude towards everything.
And while this doesn’t sound at all pretty, at least it’s not as bad as in the case of Arianna Huffington who almost lost an eye from burnout. Back in the day, she soaked into such deep level of exhaustion that she passed out at work, hitting her face on the desk. The results? Broken cheek bone and four stitches on the eye.
“I wish I could go back and tell myself that not only is there no trade-off between living a well-rounded life and high performance; performance is actually improved when our lives include time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. That would have saved me a lot of unnecessary stress, burnout and exhaustion.”
— Arianna Huffington
You see, that was the problem. I was not giving myself any time for renewal, wisdom, wonder and giving. Instead, I was wasting time on putting my energy onto pursing the wrong goals. The goals that were telling me that I needed to be super successful at my 9-5 job, be a perfectionist, become a great manager, get every little thing right — and punish myself if I don’t. I really don’t know where this self-punishment comes from, but I have to say that it’s been kinda ruining my life. Kinda. I was giving my energy, my thoughts, my time, my talent, my dedication, my enthusiasm, my desire to live, learn and explore, away for nothing. I felt empty. And I couldn’t shake the feeling of being trapped.
And it wasn’t until recently when I came across something deeply simple and yet extremely life-changing. It’s a quote from Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker, and when I first read it, it not only made me laugh, but also made me feel refreshingly free. It says:
If you don’t like where you are, change it. You are not a tree.
What a revelational thought! I am, indeed, NOT a tree. I don’t even slightly resemble one, too. My hair isn’t green, my outfits aren’t brown, I’m not THAT tall, and I also talk all the time, while trees mainly keep it to themselves, as we know. How couldn’t I spot the differences all this time!? Unlike a tree, I actually have the freedom to choose who I want to be and where I want to be at. So if I feel stuck, I CAN change it. And if I can’t change that, why SHOULD I stress about it?
The fast-paced start-up environment made me forget very many of my Why’s and What-for’s because eventually, I fell into the vicious cycle of constantly “trying to achieve”. For whom? Why? What for? Is it to make my boss happy? Or to prove something to myself? It’s so silly, isn’t it — and the silliest thing is, that in the pursuit of success we tend to forget many of the achievements that we’ve ALREADY made along the way.
In my case, there’s many things I can be proud of— and yet, I never fully take credit for any of it. People call me BRAVE for selling all my stuff and moving to Ecuador, following my first love. They call me MATURE for leaving it when the time came. They call me LUCKY for having an interesting job that pays my bills and a roof that shelters me. They call me RESPONSIBLE for being financially independent and not sitting on my grandparents’ neck. They say I have a LOVELY presence and that I’m FUN and INTERESTING to be around. So how come I have never noticed that?!
I don’t want to spend my time being unhappy while pursuing the image of “success”. After all, jobs come and go, and life’s too short to waste your time stressing about them.
Instead, I want to be excited in the mornings about a new day, I want to lie down to bed feeling grateful and fulfilled about how I spent that day. I want to live, laugh, explore, and carve my own path. Otherwise, what’s the whole point of this?
If you’re struggling to hold it together — let go of everything. Eventually, it’ll all come into place somehow, as it always does.
Lately, I’ve reduced my daily dose of the Kardashians show, slowed down with pizza, started jogging, moved to a new area in Berlin (bye bye, Kreuzberg!), picked up on reading books, and, little by little, have been picking up on blogging, too. And you know what? I’ve never been more excited ♥
PS. Check out an updated About section to read my story!