I am writing this from South Africa. Why? I’m burned out. The effects will make you fly across the world to “reflect,” or stop the noise from the normal surroundings and therapeutically restart through sight-seeing, long hikes, and late nights sitting alone in piano bars. Cape Town does it for me. There is beautiful scenery, aggressive barter shopping, and gay couples that walk the streets holding hands.
I never thought you could experience depression, impulsivity, and complete burnout while doing quality work. You know, the work we all desire because it speaks to passions, extends the mind, and supplies purpose. The past six months have been filled with excessive stress. I was in denial though, taking on more and more tasks to avoid the fact that my mental capacity was withering away like old roses while my apartment was piling up with junk that I couldn't bear to organize.
I live for challenging opportunities. One thing I’ve learned from the roughest times of this year is that a big part of adulthood is the ability to self-check and know when you’re slipping, and confident enough to self-intervene. Many of us don’t know what self-intervene means until it’s too late.
It was late May and I completed a job where I was overworked while maintaining a great relationship and keeping a decent standing in graduate school. I even picked up a few speaking gigs, which gave me purpose, something to look forward to in the midst of all the burnout ahead. I just turned 27, and thought by now I would be somewhere different in life. I’ve no idea where, but probably in a more stable place. Stability is what I long for: stable income, a man that is no longer active on Tinder, and enough value points to get free stuff at the grocery store. Many of my friends are still living the “free 20s”—not paying rent, financially dependent on a man (Dad or Sugar-Daddy), and still “searching for their passion,” unmotivated.
I used to envy them: why can’t I get a break like that? Now I look at them (through shade) because I fear how things will turn out for them as reality hits and we eventually realize that happiness is not found through dependence on others nor attained through material items. It’s an ability to be stripped of everything surrounding you and still see you, never afraid of what that looks like.
Now, some would say my trip signifies running away from problems, and to an extent that’s true, but when travel becomes an outlet there’s a thin line between needing to get away to reflect and running away. Outside of my comfort zone, in unfamiliar space, is where I reflect the deepest.
Never stretch yourself too far. Don’t make decisions without getting to know yourself. If not, you will find yourself in South Africa wearing a dashiki, trying to reset yourself instead of simply enjoying a damn vacation.
—Follow me: @I AM MY LIFE