Guilt: confessions of a workaholic

Two weeks ago I had grand plans of all the things I would accomplish over my summer holidays. I was going to write a lot; I was going to do some research for my degree; I was going to read lots of books.

Two weeks on, the pile of books by my bed is just as high; this is the first thing I’ve written since I left work on the 22nd; my masters capstone will just have to wait its turn. I have spent most days in the last week or so sleeping, binge watching TV, cooking delicious food, going for wee walks, and hanging out with friends and family.

That’s what holidays¬†are for.

But, I am a workaholic with anxiety and depression. Every morning I have woken up anxious about what I will achieve today – “today will be the day I read that book”. 8am, the alarm goes off. 10am comes by, I am still in bed. Midday comes by, I make a little lunch and move to the sofa, 3pm comes by, I go for a little nap. 6pm comes by, I walk out to meet a friend.

When another day goes by without ‘working’, my anxiety escalates into depression – what was the point in getting up today when I ‘achieved’ so little. It ramps everything up so that the pressure on tomorrow being a ‘success’ is even greater, and the cycle begins again.

I am being hard on myself because I have actually achieved a lot these holidays. I have caught up with several friends I abandoned at the end of last year as I pursued academic, work and advocacy goals. I have cooked TWO full Christmas dinners. I actually went to my personal training session. I have taken time for myself to relax and set goals for 2018. And to top it off, I did most of that with a horrific flu I caught in the last week of work that’s only just clearing up (it’s a miracle no-one else has got sick).

In 2017, I learnt that I measure my self-worth by my external achievements – those that can be validated by exam results, work I’ve won, articles I’ve written. Clearly, those have value. But I need to learn that I have self-worth simply because I am me. If I haven’t ‘achieved’ in 7 days of holiday –¬†that is normal. And it’s also disrespectful to myself and all the things I have achieved in the last couple of weeks.

Today I woke up on my last day of holiday with a different mindset – today is going to be awesome no matter how I approach it. And it has been. I read the newspaper over brekky at my favourite cafe, I bought the ingredients for two delicious healthy meals I’ll make this week, I wrote this. And I did it all without feeling guilty because I might not have changed the world today but I spoke to people, I made delicious healthy food and I wrote this, imperfect as it is.

2018 goals – leave the guilt in 2017.


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