The year was 2012.
I sat nervously outside my doctor’s office, waiting for the doctor to attend to the patient before me.
I was suffering from severe headaches and could not sleep at night. On this particular day, I was struggling to do simple day-to-day tasks for myself. I had lost my zest for life. I had no appetite. I felt no joy within. I could barely get through the day. I was weak and drained. There was emotional heaviness that I could not shake off. In hindsight, I realize that I had reached a point of exhaustion.
As I waited for the doctor to tend to me, my phone rang. It was work.
I quickly answered the phone. There was an emergency at work and I was required to be there as soon as I could.
Somehow, I could not bring myself to saying no. I assured my colleague that I’d pop in as soon as I was done at the doctor’s office. It seems ridiculous now but at the time, work had become part of my identity. I spent countless hours on the job. There was something about being constantly at work that made me feel as though I was making a diffference.
When the doctor finally called my name, I dragged myself into her office and sunk on her couch.
“How are you doing, Miss Cele?,” she asked with a warm smile on her face. She was a cordial lady and we were fairly acquainted with each other.
“Well,” I started, “I don’t feel so well. I am tired. I feel weak. Everything that used to be easy for me to do has now become a burden. And I’m suffering from a terrible headache,” I explained.
She nodded as if to say she understood where I was coming from.
“I need help,” I pleaded, “I don’t feel like myself.”
My doctor examined me and asked me about family and work. I explained to her that I was doing well for myself but I was under immense pressure to deliver on a few projects I was taking care of.
I’ll never forget her response to my situation, “Who is taking care of you?” There was an awkward silence in the room. It was obvious that I wasn’t being kind to myself. I was incredibly busy, and stressed and burdened.
“You cannot give what you don’t have,” she advised. “Balance yourself. Your health comes before work. Long after you’re gone, someone will continue to do the work that you think can only be done by you. Is whatever you do worth your life?”
That was my rude awakening.
I was in my mid-twenties and suffering from anxiety. I had given myself so fully to my work that I ceased to exist outside of that space. I invested all my time there. I had foolishly convinced myself that work could not go on without me.
While my passion for what I do was commendable, I desperately needed to be more balanced. I needed a life outside of work. I needed to be secure in who I am. I needed to know that my abilities and strengths were not limited only to my career.
My doctor gave me some medication to sleep but heavily advised that I see a friend of hers who worked at church as a counsellor. Against my will, I obliged. For a month, the counsellor poured life into me and balanced was restored. It was not an easy journey for me, but it was necessary. I discovered a lot about myself and I came to understand myself more.
The desire to win is a wonderful thing. We must all have dreams and work hard towards them. But we should not kill ourselves to make our dreams come true. There comes a point where we must relinquish the need to have things go our away and realize that enjoying life is the whole point of the journey.
We must maintain balance and exercise patience when it comes to our dreams.
It is pointless to finally have your dreams come true but be so drained and tired and sick that you cannot enjoy the fruit of your labor.
Unfortunately, this generation has been taught to always be on the move. We are a restless generation. We equate busyness with success, but it is not always so. Someone can be calm and unhurried and achieve more than the one whose schedule is always full. When we give our minds and bodies adequate rest, we enjoy the journey of life and find beauty in simple, day-to-day activities. I’m not suggesting that we should be lazy, but I am saying that we should seek to be more than what we do. I’m suggesting that we put as much effort on ourselves and our relationships as we do on our work. We must strive to be happy, whole and balanced people.
Be good to yourself.
Live for more than just work.
Get your priorities straight!
Ask yourself what really matters to you.
Go out and discover new places and meet new people.
Laugh, as often as you can.
Enjoy your life!
Life is quickly fleeting, the tomorrow you are so concerned about today will soon be in the past. So, strive to make each day count.
I learnt this wealth of wisdom the hard way, from a series of counseling sessions, at the brink of depression. Prior that, I never considered that people like me could get depressed. I’m generally a jolly person. Vibrant and full of life. But I had worked myself out of all that joy!
I learnt that I mattered, not just what I do. I learnt to relax and not to be in a hurry to be grown. I also noted down who I wanted to be in life. I desire to be much more than just a good employee. I desire to be a role model and leader in my field. I desire to be a present and involved family member. I desire to be a warm and loving friend. I desire to be a caring sister. I desire to be a devoted wife and an emotionally healthy mother. And all those roles require me to cultivate them. If I never have time to work on those relationships, I will never enjoy the benefits of having them.
So, work hard.
Work with passion and purpose and drive.
But don’t let that be the only thing you do.
Enjoy your life!
Say no when the load is too much.
There will always be work to be done, but life is brief (and most important).
Value your health!
Apply for leave without any guilt.
Switch off your phone and enjoy your own space.
Go on holiday!
Do more of what makes you happy!
Discover what makes you come alive.
Spend time with people who fuel your fire and make you come alive.
Or, like a friend of mine, get yourself a pet.
Never put on hold those things that can be done today.
Be kind to yourself and you’ll find that you’ll be happier and your days will be filled with positive energy.
Lastly, I hope you discover that people treat you with respect when you respect yourself and your life first.
Tweet Me: @Nono_Cele
Email Me: firstname.lastname@example.org