I had a fantastic dinner meet up with a friend who is in their early 50s and we both were reminiscing about our past corporate lives that included much volunteering, serving on boards and being "on the scene".
Since this is one of my newer friends, I appreciated the similarities in telling our stories of mental exhaustion, long work days, keeping teams motivated and moving forward while somehow also striving to balance our relationships with family and friends and serving our communitues.
He was surprised to hear how much I used to do and he kept saying, "Que, how did you do it?"
My response: "Well, technically I didn't do it."
After seeing his puzzled look I explained how sure, it worked for a while because of my youth and sheer inner drive. But make no mistake, the warning signs of it all being too much started appearing: from hair loss to stomach ulcers to always being in a constant state of anxiety to worrying what people thought about me or whether I'd miss some major event that had the potential to change my life...and etc, etc, etc!
It was neverending.
And if you add to that the loss of both my parents in a very short period of time and other responsibilities, it is a wonder I was sane.
He then asked me how did I "come to the light"?
My response: "I reached my depletion point when I was on the highway leavinget my corporate job at midnight one night and I almost crashed my car from sheer exhaustion. After i kept falling aslerp at the wheel that night it took everything in me to will myself to the side of the road after hearing my tires repeatedly screeching from swerving at a high speed.
And you may wonder how exhausted was I?
So exhausted that I woke up at about 5am that next morning still in my seat belt in that car on the side of the highway and the car was still running (but was in park)."
I continued to tell my friend how I sat there in my car and cried.
I also told myself: no more.
I had reached my depletion point.
Making Life Changes
After that incident, it took me two and a half years but I slowly unraveled my commitments from my corporate job, my many volunteer assignments (which was especially hard because I had been volunteering since I was 14 years old), board commitments, one sided relationships, and unhealthy activities.
I now know that for some people, like me, unraveling a life of expectations is one of the hardest things you'll ever do.
You'll hurt some people due to their expectations not being met of who they think you should be and what they think you should do.
You'll be in a steady state of confusion.
Your ego will suffer.
You'll feel like you're losing.
You won't know if your life has purpose anymore.
People will judge you as if you are just too weak to handle "success".
I could go on but you get the idea.
And these all may sound like the most horrible things you can imagine and no lie, at times it will as you're unraveling.
But let me warn you: People who aren't aware of when they're getting to their depletion point do drugs (legal and illegal), commit suicide, do horrible things to others in anger, greed or in the name of self preservation and so many other awful things.
Remember, you alone are the designer of your life. Meaning, what you do, how you do it, when you do it and where you do it.
And I pray that you don't let your ego of what others think keep you from making the decisions and taking the actions you need to take to be okay.
Your highest self is waiting...