I turned 34 yesterday, and finally, September 1 was not about letting out the yearly number of cries for not being where I wanted to be. This was a great year, probably the best I’ve had so far. I felt better in every way, I relearned how to be alone while enjoying the hell out of it, and professionally I reached everything I never even thought I would. I knew from the start that such a quick rise can only result in a quick burnout. That didn’t come as a surprise. It was a great run, but I can’t keep on going without any new goals to reach. I’m such an unlucky person who will never feel fulfilled just by maintaining something she already has. 95% of the time I cherish this drive in me, but in the remaining 5% I wish there was a switch to turn it off and let me ease into what I have.
With a job where on my luckiest days I can go out to the toilet 3x a day and have a proper lunch break when red snow falls from the sky in a July afternoon… I just can’t keep up with this pace I dictated for myself in the past year. Working at a consultation company means that if you work fast, you’re rewarded with free time that you can spend on learning or personal projects. This is how I managed to carve out time for dataviz during the day, which I can’t do anymore. You know what happens when you work fast at a production company? You get more stuff to do. And I learned this the hard way. No complaints though, it might be much much much more work, but there’s an equal amount of good in it.
The thing is, I reached a point where I just can’t open Tableau after 6 in the evening because I had it open since 8 in the morning and both my body and brain are holding up a protest sign. And it’s a hard no. I had to realize that this is not what charges me up these days. Working 9 hours a day, going for a walk to keep your sanity while wfh, exercising, cooking, doing the shopping, cleaning the apartment, trying to maintain your social life while you can barely stay awake leaves you around 54 minutes of free time every day. And that’s not much. I will definitely do dataviz in the future, but at this point, I have to put my creativity elsewhere to feel like a living person again. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me cause I’m not sorry for myself. If anything, it’s quite the opposite. Realizing this freed me up from a lot of burdens I placed on myself.
If you are in the same situation there’s nothing wrong with you. Nobody will forget you just because you’re not making a viz every week. And if you’re doing all your personal projects after hours, while working as a data analyst: you’re a goddamn hero!
So what am I up to these days? Not that I’m sure anyone is interested.
I started doing pilates every day instead of just exercising, hoping it would help to cope with stress at work better. Tried to meditate with Headspace as well, but it doesn’t work for me, it makes me feel even more anxious. I also took up embroidery – that you might already know since I spammed Twitter with it – and read a lot. Turns out the iPad is good for more than one thing! I create my embroidery patterns on it (+ baking paper) and also listen to audiobooks. If you are interested in some recommendations, here are my top books from the summer:
- Robert Galbraith – Lethal White
- Andy Weir – Project Hail Mary
- Britt Bennett – The Vanishing Half
- Rainbow Rowell – Eleanor & Park
- Madeline Miller – Circe
I’m currently reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab and The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune, and I have high hopes for both of them.
What’s the message here?
Don’t force anything, just do what feels right.