I've been slow to jump into 2018. Usually, by the first day of the year, my resolutions are set and written out. Without fail, by this point I'm laughing, placing internal bets on how soon they'll be broken. Writing about the winter months - how excited I get about decorating, cooking large and cozy meals, hosting friends for latkes, our yearly trip to South Carolina, and the break that comes with disconnecting from the hectic day to day - gives me so much joy. But this year has been very different. I spent most days in bed or glued to the television. Didn't read a single book. Didn't cook a single meal. Couldn't even muster the energy or excitement to make latkes! Small and silly for some, but this is not my status quo. For the longest time I couldn't figure out what was going on with me. This was the case until a dear friend pointed out: "You're burned out. Stop. Disconnect." She sent me the this article and once I read through all the symptoms, it's like a light went off in my head.
Let me start from the beginning - In August, Ian and I found out that we're expecting. (So excited to finally share more with you!) In September, I took a whirlwind and emotional trip with my family to my birth country, Azerbaijan. Between October and December I was traveling almost non-stop, both for work and personal reasons. I recently counted that during my first trimester I was only home for a total of 15 days. Long story short, by the time I realized what was going on with my body and mind, it was too late.
For weeks I wrote off what was happening as a combination of stress + pregnancy hormones. No doubt, the latter contributed to my rising anxiety. Truth is, those were not the only factors. Blaming work projects or the insanity of living in NYC on the inability to disconnect and enjoy personal, small moments and interests is a recipe for hating everything. Sweeping things under the rug and simply saying "Oh, I'm pregnant!" or "I'll just push through" was an excuse. For me, it was even a symptom of the larger issue. At five months pregnant all I could talk and think about at every minute of every day was work work work work, and work. The things I usually pride myself on - organization and efficiency fell out the window. Meal planning and cooking turned into carry out every night, engaging with friends turned into watching endless reruns of The West Wing (my go-to comfort TV). My entire definition of who I am began to completely revolve around professional work and the fairly inconsequential worries of urban life. "What will we order for take out? Which train should I take? What should I buy online for the apartment?". Online shopping is not a coping mechanism for stress, huge shocker. I turned into someone I barely recognized - a woman who all but abandoned her personal interests and pursuits. Once I read through the symptoms of "Burn Out", it hit me - I need to slow down. It was time for a hard stop.
The big lesson here was to take a huge step back. Since we moved to NYC three years ago, I've fallen into the "live to work, not work to live" hole. The last two weeks gave me the opportunity to fully unplug and recognize that my personal and professional lives have existed without any boundaries separating them for a very, very long time. My work is very important to me, but at the end of the day, it's not all that I am. Turning off my email on the weekends and taking a step back from always being "on" is not a cause for anxiety, it's a management tool for it. I know that work-life balance is an endless conversation had on many platforms, but it's one thing to read about others struggle - quite another to address it in your own life. The only way to succeed professionally and be the kind of woman - not to mention, mother - I want to be is to start prioritizing the personal.
So, in 2018, I'm not setting long term resolutions. Truthfully, with a baby due in Spring I have no idea what I will want to prioritize 4-6 months from now. Putting that kind of pressure on my life feels unnecessary at the present. Instead, small, short term goals are the aim. There's a lot that I'm capable of and enjoy doing outside of heading to work each morning. I am resolved to remind and reconnect with what those things are. Bring it on 2018.