Dealing with Guilt
Looking back on this and last week, I feel like I'm playing a cruel game of catch up. Between 10 hour days at the office, on-boarding two new clients at TryMus, attending a conference, speaking on a panel, and attending a gala, writing got lost in the shuffle, and, in the midst of it all, I found myself flooded with feelings of guilt.
You see, last weekend I took Friday and Saturday off from work to unwind in the quaint countryside of Prince Edward County. For 48 hours, I was away from my laptop, and in the presence of my incredible friends. You'd assume this would make me happy, and it did! In the moment, I was able to simply enjoy their company.
The guilt, and the overwhelming anxiety, came in when I returned, and was sitting at the office. Grappling with how to deal with my current workload, I concluded that I'd made the irresponsible choice in going away. That's the thing about working for yourself. Sometimes you feel like you're stuck in a battle of choice—the choice between working or doing something else, like living the rest of your life. Often, building something like a business can overcome everything and everyone else, and during these moments, in your mind, it doesn't matter if you haven't taken time off since your trip to Ireland last November, as was the case with me. It felt natural, even necessary, to punish myself for daring to take my foot off the gas.
While this lasted for a few days, I eventually realized how stupid I was being. What's more, I recognized that it was largely external factors that were contributing to the feelings I was having. In our society, we "aspire" to lose ourselves in work.
It’s like we have it ingrained in our minds that we need to become martyrs to our own careers, a belief that stems from where we place our value in society. After all, we do not praise parents who spent the weekend with their children. Instead, we praise the father who spent the weekend at the office working, or the mother who was away on a work trip. We are taught to take pride in our busyness.
The other day, someone asked me on Instagram, "What makes you most happy in life?" The answer came easy. My number one priority in life is the people I love. To me, the quality of our relationships outweighs any other responsibility.
That weekend, in Prince Edward County with my close friends and our dogs, surrounded by the countryside and rolling crop fields, that's what’s getting me through this and last week. It recharged me and reminded just how much I’ve missed that quality time off. When I lose sight of my priorities in life, that's when I begin to lose balance as well, which leads me to burn out, quickly. It is not about running away when things get tough, it is about having the ability to press pause in the midst of chaos to focus on what matters most. I sure hope that what matters most to me never becomes a job.
Managing guilt requires action; it is a choice. We wallow in it because we allow ourselves to, but most importantly because we lose sight of our priorities.