Yesterday was my 32nd birthday.
I rode my bike down to the Starbucks on 7th and Montgomery for my free coffee (got a short latte with coconut milk; short because I really need to drink less calories).
I was intending to write a blog post called 32 Things I’ve Learned in 32 Years, but I couldn’t. I just didn’t have anything to say, and coming up with 32 life lessons or pieces of advice felt impossible. I was tired and empty, even after sipping on my latte for a few minutes.
I felt guilty for being so tired, but being tired isn’t something you can will yourself out of. Sure, you can push through for a little while, but this wasn’t a “I need a nap or a day off” kind of tired. This was deeper.
My friend and band member Matt called me to wish me happy birthday, and asked how I was doing. I told him truthfully that I was exhausted and that nothing sounded good. Not napping, not going to a pool, not working, not writing, not relaxing. I didn’t want to do anything and even that didn’t seem like a good idea.
I’ve never experienced this feeling before, at least not that I can remember. I usually know when I need to take a break and go for a bike ride or go to bed early, but in this case, those things didn’t appeal to me. I’d slept 7 or 8 hours the night before. In that moment, I was tired of life and nothing sounded good.
What do you do when you don’t have the desire to do anything? What do you do when doing nothing feels wrong too?
Life Doesn’t Sound Good
My girlfriend came over and took me to lunch at Spiral Diner (dope vegan food) when my brother Chris called. He wished me happy birthday and I asked him how his new baby boy was doing. (Fuck. I just realized that I can’t remember his son’s name.)
I told him it was good to chat and that I wanted to come have dinner soon.
When he hung up, I just sat staring at the wall, fighting back tears. In a diner, at 1pm on a Wednsday afternoon, with a piece of red velvet cake on a plate in front of me. I’m not even sure why I choked up. But I knew then that I’d hit a wall.
Don’t Call It Burnout
It’d be easy to call it burnout, but it’s not as simple as that. On a good day, when I’ve had enough sleep, I love everything that I get to do.
I love my job. I get to work remotely and write and help people make podcasts and work on their businesses. It’s fufilling, rewarding work, and the people I work with are awesome people.
I love my band. Sure, we aren’t making a ton of money, and we aren’t selling out shows yet, but it’s real music about real stuff, and it’s fun. It’s a great counterpoint to the business stuff I help people with during the day, and few things are more fun than jumping in a van with some friends to drive to new cities to play music for strangers and then sleep on their floors and eat their food. It’s a privilege that few people ever get to experience.
When I’m not traveling, I have a great girlfriend, a great roommate, a great apartment in a great city, a great bike to ride around that city, tons of great books to read, no shortage of great friends to hang out with.
The trouble is that I don’t know when to stop. I pack my days full of things to do. I refuse to admit that I only have so much energy, and I keep pushing myself to do more, move faster, stay up another hour, get another thing done, hang out with another friend.
The Part Where I Turn It Into a Lesson
It’s cliche, I know, another blog post about burnout. Poor me, my difficult life. But I wanted to write about it because it helps me. I just want to remind myself that sometimes I have to stop doing all the things I love all the time. That’s it.
I’m going to say no more often. I’m going to take a few days off from working out. I’m going to take a few days off from hanging out with people. I’m not going to push to get a ton of work done, or lose another 5 pounds, or read a book, or do anything that I feel is important. I’m just going to rest.
I’m not sure, but I think it’ll bring back the passion I have for my normally-pretty-excellent life. Because that’s the most important thing to me; not money, not fame, not the bragging rights, but my excitment for life and the possibilities. I don’t ever want to lose that feeling, and I hope that taking some time to be still will bring it back to me.
Update: August 30, 2017
After writing this post, I decided to relax for a few weeks. I did a yoga class every day for 8 days straight, and realized that I am an introvert, and not an extrovert like I previously thought. Realizing that it’s ok to need to spend more time alone has helped me feel a lot better, and I’m starting my Ironman training again.