A Letter from The Editor: on Burnout

I'd be lying (by omission) if I didn't start this all out with telling you that I just googled 'how to write an introductory paragraph'. My mind is mush this morning. I woke up two hours later than normal, clocking my sleeping hours in at 9.5, and my brain feels the home of four college boys who have no regard for hygiene. I realized after about an hour of self-assessment, sprinkled with scrolling my Instagram feed, that something is off. 

If I'm being honest, I should have expected it. I should have known it was going to happen. But I didn't expect it at all. I wasn't watching out for it when I should have been. And now I'm here. 

After weeks of anxiety that has gotten increasingly ferocious, manifesting itself in crazy symptoms I've never experienced before, I now know the source. 

I am burnt out.  I am so incredibly burnt out. 

In the past, I would have really beat myself up for this. I should have taken better care of myself (#selfcare). I should have gratitude journaled more. I should have worked out more. I should have tried harder. But today, that's just not where my headspace is. Maybe it's because of this online space I've been working on, but I couldn't have helped it this time. There aren't enough hours in the day. I'm doing the best that I can. I love what I do a lot. And I've been in a season of go-go-go and then go-go-go-go-go-go some more. And I'm at this place because I choose to be. 

Can I tell you a secret? Can I trust you with something? 

I'm burnt out because I started this project. 

There are no two ways about it. And that's why I have no regrets. In the past, I have reached the big bad burn out because of all those things I mentioned before. I didn't take care of my health. I didn't take time off. I didn't rest. I didn't make time for loved ones. I didn't make time for me. And while I'm sure I have slacked in some of those areas this time around, I'm here today because 76 days ago I decided this project that I desperately wanted to exist was only going to happen if I made it happen. 

And so I said yes. And I knew at the time that I didn't really have the time or the energy to make it happen, but I knew I had to say yes or I'd regret it.

So I jumped fast, and I jumped knowing that I would be running on fumes sometimes. I knew that it would cost me time, money, and mental effort to make it happen. But I also knew that it would be exceedingly worth it. That I'd get to post real stories from real people on how they feel about this thing that feels so far away from everyday life. I knew I'd learn so much both from the human beings I asked to contribute, and from the process itself. And I was right. 

This project has helped redefine me in ways that I had no clue were possible.

One of those things that have been redefined for me now is how I view burnout. I used to see it as something to avoid at all costs. I felt like burnout was the enemy. When I hit burnout I felt like I had failed. But now it doesn't seem as black and white. 

How could I have totally failed this time when all my work is slowly and surely starting to pay off here?

Don't get me wrong-- I'm not trying to glorify it. It doesn't feel good. It's disorienting. Being tired and still have work to do is awful. I will continually avoid it in the future, or I will know what I'm getting myself into. 

But for this particular burn, while I am hitting the wall, I know I only have 6 days until a vacation. 

My to-do list has an end. 

It is well timed. Which is a success on my end? 

And I know I'm going to get through it.

Until then, it's just me over here, yawning at my keyboard, trying to strike a balance between not enough coffee and way too much coffee. 

Thanks for sticking around with me in the meantime. 

Thank you for making this place beautiful with me. 

Chelsea Francis is a photographer, editor, connector, and creative director out of Austin, TX. She's most passionate about helping people see the beauty in their own lives, a good cup of coffee, and a great slice of pizza. When she's not answering emails, she's editing pieces for Pass/Fail, hosting networking events, and shooting photographs for incredible companies both in Austin and elsewhere.

Chelsea Francis