Alone in Prague — 2013

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How burnout feels like

Burnout. Terrifying?

The danger of burnout is that you are likely not aware that you have it.

That’s when burnout gets you.

I felt down. Physically and emotionally. Every second of every day. Losing sleep, losing interest in other things, feeling like a walking corpse.

There was only one thing on my mind: you’ve gotta keep going. There’s no other way.

Burnout feels like a layer on your skin. It’s almost inside of your cells but your body knows it’s strange.

Or is it a curse? Something possible to get rid of, but you can’t if you are enchanted by it and don’t know that you have it, until it’s too late.

I needed someone else to tell me that what I was feeling — feeling exhausted from what I was doing and thinking about all day and never felt well again — was the result of having burnout for a long time.

I can’t believe I didn’t know. Because for such a long time, food and drinks didn’t have taste, my body didn’t feel like moving, and I was emotionally on the edge of losing it every day.

Should have known earlier. Life is short.

Who are you creating for?

When I was a child, my mother told me once that I have to play by the rules of the system, the world, so that I can stand out and, well, “get picked”. Only after getting picked, stepping up to a position in that system, that world, can I have the power to change the rules. Playing by the rules to eventually change the rules. That became my motto for a few years.

Until i found out how much I hated doing that. Pleasing the people who have the power to pick, to judge, to make decisions. What’s more, I noticed that I didn’t have to change the rules, the system, the world I’m trying to get in. Because the rules are changing by themselves, too.

And this topic – do we please the middle person or the person at the end of the line, the readers and viewers – is proof that the rules have changed. There’s still the way to get picked by The New Yorker; but it’s not the only way.

It’s not the only way. What a relief!

I am writing for “selfish” reasons in the first place. I am, like many others, creating because we want to please ourselves, to make our own worlds better, more interesting, shinier, with confetti maybe. But then we are looking for the most important souls out there whom we are desperately speaking to, reaching out for some echoes, some resonance, some sparks.

I can still try to get my article picked by some publishers, since it’s still easier and faster to reach more eyeballs through their platforms. But it’s important for me to know I don’t have to do it to reach others, the second most important person(s) in my creative life – my audience, readers, and viewers.

Who are you creating for?

There’s always something

There’s always something.

There’s always something that’s going to be on my mind which I will appoint as the thing that’s “pressuring me”. The reason why I can’t live in the present moment. The reason why I am not doing the thing I want to do but the thing I have to do.

I don’t know since when I started living the life from appointment to appointment. Deadline to deadline. Without knowing, I live by calendars and schedules. There’s always something coming up. If it’s not in the near future, like next week, it’s in the further future, like next year.

I’m tired of this.

(Un)thankful

I’m a new mother. I’m 24/7 now fully on my baby daughter. I’m not ashamed to say I get annoyed often and wonder why I wanted to be a mother from time to time.

These moments come and go. They don’t stay in my mind longer than an hour. In terms of any relationship, this is an extreme short period of “off” time.

We are social animals. Of course, every relationship with anyone in our life is a “relationship”. Why should “mother and child” an exception?

I feel the need to write this because I was told to “never think of things like this and be thankful.”

I hate it when older women say this to me. And they say it a lot. Like a mantra.

“…be thankful. Be grateful.

You are suffering? Don’t. Just be thankful…”

This is the kind of crap I have to get out of my life. Because I don’t need to be thankful for shitty things that happen to me, or traumas I have to live through, or sufferings that I am experiencing.

I’m not a victim and I don’t need to be thankful for the things I’m not thankful for.

Regret

I think I made my eyes worse so that I could wear glasses.

I was 12. I had no idea it was a bad idea.

There were only a handful of kids in my class who wore glasses. Out headmaster, an old, respected woman also did. And my father also. That were probably the reasons why I wanted to wear glasses too.

Well, primarily for the first reason.

Wearing glasses was a scarcity for me. I really thought it was cool to have a little glasses case. When the class started, I could get the case out, open it, and put my glasses on.

Like… a professional looking.

Then I came to high school and the coolest kids I knew were all free of glasses. And I already couldn’t read the whiteboard without my glasses.

What seemed cool changes. So never make an important choice for it if you can’t go back.

What does it mean to be a professional?

You are a professional at doing it, because the stakes are high.

It’s not your hobby. Because you certainly can make money from your hobby, if you like. Your livelihood doesn’t depend on it; your quality of life — financial and/or mental — won’t change much if you don’t carry on with it.

It’s not private. Hobby is private.

Being professional means having a standard. It means you voluntarily put your work in front of others and say “this is my work. I have a standard.

I am on a professional level.

I have a principle.

I do what I like. This is what I like to do. But I also do it for others. And get recognised for it. And most of times, I get paid for it.

I don’t do it just for fun.

It’s not necessarily my profession.

But I’m a professional at it. I do my work when I don’t want to. Because I’m doing it also for others.

Because others need my work.

The stakes are high.”

Ass and heart

“Put your ass where your heart is.”

What do you see from this sentence? While some see the bravery to take a leap, others see actually doing the work to get you where you want to go.

I see the alignment of will and action.

All thinking, no doing. The curse of a generation.

We have been waiting for too long, waiting for the right time, the right space, the right tools and gadgets.

We have been fantasising for too long, about how we have already achieved our goals. The endorphin already rushed to our brains. What holds our motivation high to actually take the steps?

So the only thin we can do is to move our asses and put them to work.

Not just any work.

The work where our hearts are.

Think, but feel first

Planning is such a “grownup” thing.

Kids never plan. But “making a plan” is almost the first thing we learn from our parents in order to “grow up”. Because we can feel naturally, so the only thing we learn is to think.

“Thinking ahead” is planning. It’s good for us, most of the time.

But when it’s crucial to feel first, we should try to delay the thinking mode. Feeling gives the general direction, planning (calculation) is in charge of the specific steps in that direction.