Yo. Hi there. Bonjour. What’s up?
It’s. Been. A. Minute.
Or a year since our last post. But that’s okay. We’re here now. Want to know why the lengthy time off?
Being honest: burnout, fear, lack of fire…
I kind of always thought burnout was a myth, something overachieving CEOs complained about, or something nurses or factory workers experience on 14 hour shift days. Something that happened to people way busier than me, with more power, with kids, etc. That wasn’t me. I have it good and I know it. I’m in a place of privilege and am grateful every single day for my life. So I never really paid attention to it. Even when I stopped doing things outside of work that I usually love and bring me joy. My writing gradually decreased, my journal staring at me everyday with guilt. I couldn’t muster the creativity to write a blog post. I went through a period in year 31 where I focused on work, and a lot, lot less on other things that brought me joy. I had to stop watching the news. I wasn’t depressed (even though I get reading this it kinda sounds that way, I’m not, I promise), but ever since the last presidential election, I’ve had a harder time looking on the bright side of the world and I let it get to me. We still took some awesome trips, hung out with loved ones and did cool shit, it wasn’t like I was alone in a cave. But the energy and fire I’d had for outwardly living authentically, learning, speaking my truth, standing up for love and kindness, my spirituality and sharing it with others had cooled to embers.
I’d had big plans for 31, and to my credit, I accomplished a lot of them (22 out of the 31 listed!). We took a lot of trips to see friends get married, and I got to go to France and England with mi madre! We had so many close friends move to Seattle, which we couldn’t have even dreamed of when we first moved here. I solidified a good core group of girlfriends (it helped that one of my besties also moved to Seattle, who I of course am trying to con into being a contributor) and we all compliment each other so well. We started a book club that I feel borderline obsessed with. In all, it was a kick-ass year, but one that really kicked into gear later, as my 32nd birthday loomed in October. I learned a lot about myself. I got scared I was stagnant. Then I got scared of change. I got rejected. Then I turned down job offers. And I spent a lot of time quietly worrying about this blog, internally wrangling with why I even have it if I don’t keep up with it. On a trip to Memphis an old coworker asked me what was up with it. I was embarrassed. I answered sort of honestly – I’m fearful of it in this current cultural climate. (Or maybe, I just hadn’t been tending my own fire well enough.)
Writing has always been an outlet to me since I learned to put sentences together. For some reason I just love it. And since everyone and their dog broke into blogging in 2008, I’ve been endlessly fascinated by blogs. I love reading other people’s (read: strangers) blogs about anything from their surprise triplets who I don’t even know, to what you should pack for a four day winter camping trip to the Alpine Wilderness that I most likely won’t be tackling anytime soon (but it’s so inspiring to see other badass ladies do it!). Some say blogs are dead now, but whatever. I’m just a lover of all kinds of kinds of nonfiction and personal stories standing in front of the internet. I’ve had this blog or some version of it for FIVE years now. FIVE. It’s not a toddler anymore. It’s not something I’ve focused on fully for five years, but I mull it over every single day in my head of what I want it to be. And in doing so, I let myself be ruled by the fear of it. But, but, but… my writing isn’t perfect, I’m not an expert at Photoshop (which honestly just seems so overrated these days), blogging is saturated… blah. I’m an emotional, long winded writer. That’s not “good” blog form. I tend to be an open book. That’s “too real” for the internet. I share personal stories, victories and struggles. That’s too much “negative” or “sensitive” information for anyone to come across about me on the internet. And on and on with all the other doubts anxious minds can bring up when you want to do something slightly terrifying, like write personally on the internet. But fear is a liar.
What I did do over the last year, was start paying closer attention to powerful women who are changing the world whom I admire. Women like Amy Nelson, founder of The Riveter; Brene Brown; Elizabeth Gilbert; Cyndi Ramirez, founder of Chillhouse; Jeannette Ogden of ShutTheKaleUp; Lizzo, and others. Watching how they navigate their fears and boundaries, show up for realness, own their careers, and how they take control of their lives. How could I do that? How can I be that? Last October I’d made a silent promise to myself that in one year I refused to be in the exact same spot. I knew I needed to grow, I just didn’t know what that looked like. I took some turns and wrong roads in trying to figure out how to light my fire again. I started asking the universe to show me what I should be doing. I wanted to have fun again at work. I started actually talking to more successful women, not just wishing I was. I knew I was passionate about helping women, have always been unconditionally obsessed with learning about nutrition and food and bodies and healthcare, and that I needed to move into women’s wellness in some way. Once I got clear on that, a few months later I started working towards getting my Holistic Nutritionist Certificate, and then a new (to me) women’s health organization with an opening offered me a role. And I took it.
Then I had an almost complete meltdown about quitting my old position. It was such an emotional roller coaster doing so, that it woke me up to just how badly I actually needed that change. A new hire looked at me the day before I gave my notice (unknowingly) and point blank said to me, “You look burnt out, I can see it in your eyes.” I had to turn away to hide my tears. I was paid well, had a ton of responsibility and visibility, was learning new skills, had a supportive team, and knew how lucky I was, yet inside it just didn’t feel right anymore. But it had become a massive part of my life/identity and leaving it felt terrifying. A part of me wishes I would have been more outspoken in that role. Being in a male dominated industry and company in tech, I fight an inner dialogue that I didn’t do enough before walking away. Like I gave up a seat at the cool kids table or something. What that even looks like, I don’t know. But I do know that it took me a few days of detoxing that old me before I started feeling my fire being rekindled, of feeling more like “me” and less of whoever that quiet, uninterested person was. And that told me I’d made the right choice. I’d also kept a promise to myself – almost a year to the date. Which felt good. I’m now at a new org that fights to save women’s lives by funding cutting edge international research and education for ovarian and breast cancers – not sure how I could even sit at a cooler table. I feel like a new iteration of myself. Stronger, badder, smarter, purposeful, happier. 32 looks damn good.
So now, in a new year and new job, comes deciding what I do love enough to jump back into. I think Watch Us Roam is one of those loves. It’s been neglected, not properly formatted, and not had near enough care taking. And some of that will most certainly happen again. But I love to write and take photos and share weird shit with other humans and form connections and stories and fight the good fight and have excess reasons to own another Instagram account to post pics of sunsets and flowers and dogs and friends and female politicians and warriors and run-on sentences (being honest here). So here we go again… this girl is on fiiiiiiirrrrrreeee. (Couldn’t help it.)
Thanks for reading Watch Us Roam. Let the record state it’s officially back from sabbatical – aged like a fine wine that pairs well with satire, long winded emo writing, and salt and vinegar chips. Cheers! – Amanda