Wake up, shower, go to work, make money, repeat. Skip breakfast? Sure, if it meant making it into the office early. Miss that yoga class that you committed to? Not a problem, if it means making extra cash. For as long as I can remember, most of my goals revolved around making money and buying material items with said money. I had allowed myself to become brainwashed into thinking that if I achieved financial stability and had nice things, that my life would be complete, my anxiety would go away and I would attract the perfect mate. That couldn’t be further from the truth. It appeared, the more financial goals that I hit, the more the rest of my life was unraveling. Sometimes, it seemed like the only thing that was going according to my plan was my finances. I have always been a hard worker, with my sights set on being the best at whatever job that I had at that moment, and looking back, that caused me to neglect some other very important aspects of life that make you feel whole. There is a fine line between taking pride in your work, and allowing your work to become your entire sense of self-worth. Unfortunately, that is a line that was crossed long before I realized it. I no longer cared if I was late for dinner at home, if I missed family gatherings, or brought work home. All that I wanted to do, was be the best, and make money. I had convinced myself that being a career woman was what would make me happy. The salary, the savings account, the nice car. Those things would make me complete, and once I had those, then I could figure out how to live a healthy life and have a healthy relationship, right? My body reacted otherwise. When you go against what you know to be true, and when you must convince yourself that the path you are taking, is in fact, the right one for you, things start falling apart and there is nothing that you can do to stop it, other than admitting that you have been in denial. I was living a life that wasn’t meant for me. I wasn’t satisfied, I wasn’t happy and I certainly wasn’t healthy. Even though my intuition was telling me to make some drastic changes, immediately, I made the decision to ignore the warning, and continue to mask my pain and confusion with work. My entire life was at work. My friendships, relationships, all three of my daily meals and I was exhausted. Mentally and physically. My struggle was deeply embarrassing for me. I thrived on being the girl who had it all together. I loved when people commended me on my financial stability and my accomplishments. I started to feel sick on a regular basis, and not be able handle the slightest struggle without having a full meltdown. I finally confided in a few friends about what was going on, and all of them gave me the same advice “You need to take some time off of work, and do something for yourself.” It was true, my work life balance was nonexistent, and the only person to blame for that was me. Taking time off, meant making less money, and in my head that was distancing myself from my goal of owning a home, so naturally, I panicked. Who was I, if I wasn’t obsessed with work? I had been using work as a distraction; I hadn’t been dealing with anything that I needed to.
Fast forward a few months, and I had made peace with using some of my savings to book my first big trip. Just the action of booking it alone, seemed to lower my stress level. It made going to work mean something to me, because I could see and feel my efforts going towards something that was good for me. Slowly, my relationship with work and money started to move towards a healthy place instead of an obsession. I was experiencing how you can plan and budget for trips, and still pay your bills at home at the same time. I let go of the idea that I needed to have a certain amount of money saved at all times, I let go of the need to own a home by a certain age in a certain city, and I let go of my need for material possessions. Things were starting to balance themselves out. My fear of asking for time off subsided, and I began to request a couple of days here, a week there and my obsessive planning about the future shifted to planning trips, and focusing on the present. My brain started to understand that spending money wasn’t foolish and impulsive, when done wisely. I felt free of my prior notion that you needed to have all your ducks in a row to be happy. I felt free of my fear of not fitting into the box that society attempts to force us to fit into. I accepted full responsibility for not listening to my intuition and allowing my habits to control my mind. I recognized that this life that we are given brings joy and with joy there are also struggles. Change can be painful and I was ready to feel the pain instead of run from it. My new priority became to be the best version of myself, for me. Not the version that I thought everyone else wanted me to be. Our journeys are all unique, embrace your difference and allow yourself to thrive.