The burnout break

What I learned

Rough times

After going through the first two weeks of my break, I went into the new week with anxiety. Doubts clouding my decision, whether to extend this break or not.
RekaScape, Cyberjaya. Shot with Konica C35 Auto, Fujifilm Superia 200 (expired).
RekaScape, Cyberjaya. Shot with Konica C35 Auto, Fujifilm Superia 200 (expired).

Disclaimer:

I wrote this as part of my #100WordHabit, and it was during my recent burnout.

First sign

Prior to the first week, fatigue crept in, and I was jaded. I was having a very bad cough as well, to make it worse. I felt sick, mentally and physically.
I wanted to stop working and go on a getaway or something. But since my state, Selangor, is in the red due to Covid-19, interstate travelling was barred until further notice.
I was looking for a quick “escape”, I was browsing the film camera sections, and I thought, maybe I should just get one and shoot loads of film rolls.
So, I bought the Konica C35 Automatic — 35 mm film rangefinder camera at a bargain. I wouldn't have thought of owning a film camera, let alone a 50-year-old vintage Japanese camera.
Shot from Pixel 2
Shot from Pixel 2

The break

Decisions made and emails have been sent to all my clients. Finally, I have my needed break. Also, a time for me to reflect and think of a recovery plan.
The first week was fun. Apart from the new camera (which I quickly finished 3 rolls), I started my daily 100-word writing habit journey. Didn't realize how much I love writing. All this while, my endless self-doubt has crushed it so badly that I stopped thinking about writing at all.

The FOMO

The second week started with a tint of fear-of-missing-out (FOMO). I was still checking on Twitter occasionally and felt another wave of anxiety. Looking at budding entrepreneurs working hard with their usual multi-threads made me question my decisions. I should be out there as well, hustling my ass off. I don't feel I did enough but here I am, taking a break so that I can play with my new toy. Nice Leif, very nice.
Going through the third week of my break was damn difficult.
The excitement of having a break has faded a little. I was already going through writer's block, putting my newsletter write-up into a halt. And now, I'm having a difficulty to keep my 100-word habit going.
I eventually stopped checking on Twitter for days. Then, Kevon DMed me with his ideas of having a community group for his #BuildingInPublic movement. He's going to start small with less than 10 people. I love the idea of having a small support group. Less noise and, more focused and intimate. I gave it a try in the middle of my supposed break, yeah I know (lol).

Parenthood

My major role as a parent has arisen as well. My daughter just started public school this week. The last time she went was September last year. That's when Malaysia was having another big wave of Covid-19 until year-end. Schools closures were extended until February this year. As the public schools reopened, we decided to stick to her home school for another month.
Now, as parents, my wife and I need to reset and readjust our daily routines (again). Today, she told me that her company has made a decision to get everyone back to the office. The work-from-home period has come to an end.

So, when things get tough, what should I do?

I will start over. Not from scratch. But by eliminating what didn't work and double down what has worked; writing and building in public. While in Public Lab, it took me a few more weeks to refocus and recalibrate. It worked.

Update: We're still in lockdown but at least both my wife and I are fully vaccinated now. Schools and offices are still closed. But having the experience of last year, we are more prepared this time. I would say, we're more happy nowadays than before.
Update 2: I decided to use my NOW page as my personal share space. Less about work and more about personal stuff.

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