2013 was… Interesting.
Disclaimer: This year wasn’t all bad news. I learned things, made new friends, tried new things, made some cool stuff, went a couple places, got on TV, decided on a few healthy lifestyle changes, and connected with others. However, I AM going to focus on the things that led to my current state of being. I do not seek sympathy nor praise. This is simply a reflection. You have been fairly warned.
I began the year one month in, ending the relationship that was stressful and no longer making me happy. It was a good move for me, and I don’t regret the decision. I was doing all the things I’ve wanted to try. Piano class, dance class, playing softball, doing freelance web administration and continuing self-education on whatever struck me at any given moment. It was freeing, productive and I enjoyed every moment! I had a full time job with great coworkers and a great atmosphere.
Over the course of the year, the job was becoming more and more stressful. The trigger, though not noticeable right away, was the departure of my partner-in-crime/party-cube buddy and the fact that her replacement was not in place until four months later.
I quit piano class. My brain would just not function, work day after full work day. I found it difficult to stuff my brain full of quarter notes, eighth notes, ties and slurs. I needed a rest. (Haha)
I lost my grandmother. She was my last living grandparent, and the only one I had any sort of relationship with. As a child, my siblings and my time with her was limited due to other familial issues and pressures preventing us from being as connected with our relatives as all of us would have liked. It was only the recent years that we had been able to visit and make up for the lost time. There is so much I wish I could have learned from and about her before her passing.
Then, my new super cool, foreign, knowledgeable coworker made her departure, too, just three months later. Onboarding had barely begun to pierce the surface of the scope of our team. Again, the responsibility had fallen on me, with little support as our team of two was already spread thin with more and more new projects, and growing presence a department, thrust upon us. All support that was given is appreciated more than I can put into words. Mentally, and work-wise.
I quit dance class. Not only was my brain exhausted at the end of the day, but my whole body found itself falling over itself while attempting single pirouettes and unable to properly retain choreography. It was frustrating. It wasn’t fun anymore.
I went to PAX Prime! Now THIS was an experience of a life time. Making new buddies, being around video games and those who make them possible. New concepts, endless ideas, reiterating my love for games and the industry, reconnecting with old friends, a new city with my kind of weather. I loved EVERY MOMENT. Except the one in which I realized I had to leave.
Being undeniably passionate about something again and being fully immersed in it just to leave it all behind was truly depressing. I started to question my current path in life. Realizing my loves there made me realize how unhappy I really was here. On top of the previous stresses, I was pulled so far into what I called a “life rut.”
Earlier in the year, one of my best friends had moved nearly two hours away. Over time, he had found his place there, and I am more than ecstatic to know that he’s happy. We don’t talk as often and our interests, while common ones exist, are not as similar as they once were.
My other best friend stopped talking to me all together for a time, for reasons I’m still unsure of. Denial of anything inherently wrong and his inability to tell me the whole truth makes me question the friendship we had had all along. This actually hurts. More so than the closure of my romantic relationship at the beginning of the year.
I quit softball. Temporarily. But still. This is saying something. With the exception of two years in high school, I’ve played softball every year, at least one season, since I was five years old. I don’t even need to say anymore.
December 2013 was pivotal. The prospect of another new coworker, who was already familiar with 80% of our processes, finally feeling like my voice had been heard, people willing to listen, and the petitioning of an extremely-overdue reclassification of my position were the most relieving things I had heard all year. Not to mention winter break was approaching.
They say that hindsight is 20/20. I believe it.
It was during this break when I took the time to reflect upon this year that I realize that I did not narrowly escape burnout. I hit it head on. I can’t pinpoint the exact time, but it happened. There were breakdowns in front of those who did not deserve to have to deal with me. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for sticking by me. And I’m also sorry it had to happen.
My social life had taken a plunge off the deep end. The friendship I had left with the breakup, more to a city to two hours away, and the other seemingly just disappeared.
Those who I continue talking to remain scattered across the US and beyond. Most of them I haven’t even met. This concept was strange at first. Truthfully, they are the ones who know the most about what’s been going on with me, and I talk to them the most. Who is to say they are not my friends? I am eternally grateful for their company, laughs, random messages in the middle of the night, silly gossip, support they’ve shown, collaboration and teamwork in various games and projects, trust they’ve shown, inside jokes and all the digital hugs. Without them, I really would be alone. I’m so glad I’m not.
But what really happened here? The simple answer is that I let work become my life.
Work wasn’t good. Therefore, life became not good.
For a time, I was looking for new work, but I didn’t even have the energy to properly do that.
With more support than I had initially realized, made clear by certain work exercises, the best coworkers ever and the most outstanding supervisor backed by the rest of the chain of command, a renewed confidence has recently been sparked. That spark at the end of this dark tunnel that was 2013 has given me the “it’s getting better” vibes.
Now that the work factor was out of the way, I could finally think about me again. To try and figure out what the fuck happened. All of this was what I came up with.
I suffered burnout and breakdowns, and I’m sure a dash of depression is existent here, too, though not clinically diagnosed. But I am recovering. Not there yet…but recovering. I feel it, and I want it.
Conveniently coinciding with the new year, there are things I want to do differently this year:
Love my job again. Be the difference. Stand up for what I believe in. Share the knowledge.
Stop making excuses for myself to say “no” to adventures and opportunities. Adventure is out there.
Make new connections. Rekindle old ones. Let them know they’re appreciated. Keep in touch.
Make. Craft more. Cook more. Build more. Design more. Code more. Photograph more. And show it off.
Consume what I enjoy. Books, games, movies, tv. Without shame.
Learn from mistakes. Don’t get down on myself for not accomplishing exactly what it was that I had set out to do. It is NOT a failure if I tried my best.
Strive to be the difference. Everyday.
Doing these things will ensure that I meet the main goal:
Be proud of myself and my life again.
Ready, set, Mew.