I had a nervous breakdown last week. Not the dramatic kind that you tell your husband you’re having when the kids misbehave, but the legitimate kind that your doctor diagnoses you with. If I think about it, the reason why I’m now sitting in pyjamas with a 5-day old messy bun started in 2011. I’m awful at letting go, guys.
Are you ready for a fairytale? I met my now husband on social media when it was still used to throw sheep at each other and send random pokes. Both of those things are now frowned upon. He was living in Johannesburg at the time and I was knee deep in a career in short-term insurance in George. I was driven, I was focused and I had no time for a man in my life.
As a single mom, my goal was to provide for Riley, and I was very proud of being able to do that while being really good at my job. Being good at your job is easy when you put a lot of love into what you do – I loved reaching goals and milestones and so I loved my job. I also started falling in love with Paul, which was a problem. I knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, but he was in Jozi and I was in George – what was a girl to do?
We were already in a relationship at this point, I wasn’t planning on running off with a dude I’d only spoken to on Facebook.
The logical thing for me was to apply for a transfer within my company – I was already successfully promoted, I managed a large team and being goal driven, I thought I’d proven myself. Apparently not. I was devastated when my application was rejected and heartbroken that I’d genuinely have to choose between career or love.
During this time, I was really thankful for the support that I had from a close work colleague that we’ll name Alex. She was my 2ic in the office, my confidant in the smokers corner and the person who I genuinely felt a connection with. It was nice to have someone trustworthy to confide in. The whole time I was conflicted about what to do about my feelings with Paul vs. my love of the job, she encouraged me to follow my heart… to Johannesburg.
She knew that I wasn’t getting a transfer and that if I left, she’d be in line for my job (largely thanks to the knowledge I’d given her). Suddenly, the biggest cheerleader for the company was being called in for disciplinary hearings because of things I had said. Things that were fueled by emotion, spoken in confidence and expressed out of frustration. I had to defend myself against the words I said to a woman who I considered a friend. To a woman whose kids I’d babysat and a woman who I shared meals with.
I wasn’t fired, but I realized that I valued that company more than they valued me – I resigned and moved to Johannesburg.
Fast forward to 2017 – I find myself in a position that I love, working for a company I adore, but the gnawing pain of the past just won’t go away. Guys, when I say that I love my job, that’s the understatement of the year – I put my heart and soul into what I do for a living. The thing though is that because I’m genuinely happy with the work I do, I think my employers are happy with the work I am doing and I’ve become pretty good at it – I’ve started to let insecurities creep in. I’ve given myself unrealistic expectations of what I need to produce in order to be safe. I’ve physically devoted my everything to ensure that I’m never put in a position again where I have to cling onto a job.
This is obvs super healthy, right?
My nervous breakdown boils down to years worth of working countless hours, putting in 210% and not taking a step back. All because I’m terrified that the Alex’s of the world are going to rip my world apart again. All because I don’t value my worth nearly enough. That’s the takeaway – my value is greater than I give myself credit for, and that’s not just in the office either.
I’ve realized that if I don’t start valuing myself more, that I’m going to end up being a tinfoil hat wearing loon behind a computer. You know, the ones who have tape over everything they own, just in case the government is listening? In hindsight, I’m really glad that Alex destroyed my career because I am not destined to sell insurance – I am a creator. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
A lesson in letting go – I have to value me first because I can’t do what I love if I’m not around to do it anymore.
Until next time.