On February 24th, 2014, I started my internship at BMW M in Munich. A few weeks before, I had started writing my Bachelor’s thesis. My thinking was:
“I’ll just finish the thesis on the side and by August, I’ll be done with both things.”
Didn’t happen. For the first 3 weeks, I lived in a shared flat with a tiny desk in my room.
During the first two weeks of work, I tried. I woke up at 6, got ready, worked for an hour on my thesis and then went to work.
But it was too tempting. Work was fun. The city was great. I met tons of new people.
I couldn’t find the discipline to give up even one hour a day to finish this thing. That’s being lazy.
I ended up taking a break from the thesis and finishing it after my internship ended, in August.
On May 2nd, 2016, I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. I had been sick for two weeks in March and had been playing catch up with everything and everyone ever since.
I really wanted to work. My list was so long. So many people to help. To coach, to write, to edit, to pitch, to create, to post.
But I couldn’t. I sat in front of my closed laptop for hours. And I just could not open it.
My view for a long time.
It took me almost a whole month to fully recover. A weekend trip to a really good friend’s house where we talked and lay in the garden all day…
…a lot of pizza…
…a lot of encouragement…
…a lot of coffee meetings outside with my roommate…
…a lot of walking…
…a lot of wandering around, with no clue where I wanted to go, including a trip to London and a break-up…
…to emerge with new strength, new perspective, new power, new motivation, new direction, new goals and a new smile again.
It took me a whole month of doing absolutely nothing but taking care of myself to get back to normal. Not great, but normal. That’s being burned out.
One is easy to fix. The other not so much. I’d love to tell you “if you’re lazy, just stop, if you’re burned out, just relax,” but the truth is,
I think the only way you’ll learn to deal with them is if you experience them.
If you’re lazy, the only way to find out how much you’re really capable of is to do so much until you can’t.
If you’re burned out, the only way to find balance is to completely shut down for a while.
We learn from failure. It doesn’t always have to be our own, but when it comes to self-awareness, there’s no way but to try. We’re not that smart.
We find borders by crossing them.
Whichever one you may have crossed right now, I want you to know you’ll be okay. Whether it’s easy to fix, or tough to figure out, you’ll bounce back and find your balance again.
It’s what we humans do. And we’re better at it than we think.