“I‘ve never put any boundaries, work has always been above everything.”
This is what I told one of my mentors when she asked how my life was outside of the SCA. And I was shocked when I said this. Not because of the sentence itself. Of course, I knew what I was going to say.
I was shocked at how obvious this answer was to me. How natural and absolute it came out of my mouth.
At this moment, I felt something was off, but I didn’t take too much attention to it and continued to work on my briefs. And it was when Marc spoke to us about burnout in the workplace that I really clicked: “Fuck, I’ve never put any work boundaries” and my shoulder started hurting me again.
This detail may not seem interesting to you, but it mattered to me. Because the last time my shoulder was hurting me, was during my burnout.
It was a long time ago, but I still remember the sensation. This was way before the SCA, before I had even a glimpse of interest in advertising. It was when I lived in France, during my medicine studies.
I don’t know about England, but this course is one of the hardest in France. And the university I went to was in Bordeaux: 8 hours away from my family and friends, where 3000 people are applying each year for 300 succeeding in the first-year exams. In case you haven’t noticed, I love challenges.
I love them so much, that even after failing the exams, I decided to go for it again. And this is where it happened.
It’s sad to say it but doing the first year of medicine again is normal in France. Only a few achieved it in only one year. People usually need more time to assimilate all the knowledge necessary to pass the first exams.
But seeing the same classes for the hundredth time, even if you don’t know them by heart, it’s just so boring. I lost the thrill of learning new things. I was studying 11 hours a day, for what? Know by heart, things that I already knew about. I felt like I didn’t do something meaningful anymore. I pushed myself until I was unable to study anymore. Just thinking about my studies made me physically ill. One hour per day was the top I could do, otherwise, I felt like I was about to throw up. And I continued to push anyway… until I failed again my exams.
I lost myself at that time, and I’m not going to do that again.
I’m not writing this scab to complain about it or to make people feel sorry about me. I hate that by the way. I’m writing this for myself. Because like I said, I’ve never put boundaries, and writing this down will surely help me to make it concrete and do something about it. And maybe, in the best of case, it will inspire others to operate a small change in their life, if they need to improve it, to feel even greater about themselves.
So, here are some personal tips that I’m going to do, to just let out the steam and not think about briefs every day, at any time.
- Run until you lose your breath. Take off your shoes, it will only slow you down, and run. I did that several times with music and it’s just freaking great. Don’t think, just run until you can’t feel your legs anymore.
- Do silly things. Of course, it’s important to do the right things to be the best at school, and to make a good impression. But we are all humans, so not perfect, hopefully. And we need to be stupid sometimes, be a child again that does before thinks.
- Always say yes to the second beer. I don’t need to say more, right? We all get it.
- Be surrounded by people you feel comfortable with and bite them. You need people that are ready to kidnap you, and tie you to a bench in a park, just for you to enjoy your daily fresh air. And biting them in return is the best way to express how much you care about them.
Working until losing ourselves doesn’t have any point. For the SCA, who chose us for who we are, but mostly for ourselves. We’re not living only for working. At the end of medicine studies, I felt like work was my whole life, and was defining who I me. It took me time to understand it wasn’t.