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For as long as I can remember, I’ve pushed myself to the limit. Whether it was schoolwork or lab work or business work, I’ve always been willing to go the extra mile. Or two. Or five.
But for the past few years or so, it’s like the warranty on my body started to give out. If I push too hard for too long, I get sick. It started with just increasingly frequent colds, viral infections, and flus. But then it was pneumonia. Then chronic illnesses, where entire organs and organ systems started to act out or shut down. I’ve even had to have several surgeries.
I finally got to the point this summer, when I was diagnosed with mono for the second time in six years, when I told myself I’ve finally had enough. I realized I have stop thinking of self-care and relaxation as a “nice to have” and actually start aligning my thoughts and actions in that regard. I finally took a deep breath and put my foot down. (Or, more specifically, sat my tired butt down).
We are told as entrepreneurs to work 80-hour weeks, to do what others won’t, and to give up goodies in life now for a better life later. Plus, I mean, c’mon, it’s awesome to feel like superwoman, to call yourself Type A, to feel awesome and in control and in demand. To actually see you dreams coming true — it’s amazing. It’s one of my favorite things.
But somehow, somehow I’m starting to think part of that is just blowhard egotism. Part of me is starting to realize that there are people much more successful than me who don’t push quite as hard (much less to the point of constant illness), but generate more by doing less more confidently, carefully, and purposefully. Part of me is also starting to realize I depend solely on myself too much — my team is amazing and there are plenty of amazing contacts available to me, and I need to stop believing I have to climb the mountain alone all the time.
The truth is, I’ve been exhausted and have had a sore throat for two months. I’m going to see a holistic specialist next month because traditional western medicine does absolutely nothing to treat mono, except to erratically prescribe rest and activity, which is irritating. And in the meantime, I’m hanging in there. I’m doing what I can for the business, taking it day by day, and depending increasingly more on others, like my awesome staff. And I’m also learning there is more to me and my life than just business and achievement — I’m building bird houses, playing games, and reading more fiction, activities I haven’t done regularly in years. And I’m having a greater appreciation for just how much I did before (whereas if you would’ve asked me back then, I would’ve said it wasn’t enough). More sheepishly, I’m also realizing why people love Netflix so much…
Some chapters of your life are exciting. This chapter of mine is honestly boring and frustrating and infuriating, but I’m trying to take from it the gifts that I can and keep moving forward. Even if I feel like I’m crawling some days, I just keep telling myself, it’s enough.