I’ve always been known for being an overachiever. Every new thing life gives me, I turn it into something more: if I start a sport, I want to be the greatest athlete; at school, I had to be on the honor roll; when it was time to find a job, I went for what Google called “hardest jobs to get in the world”.
My mind is set to think that in success I’ll find happiness, maybe coming from the offbeat relationship I have with my father, or the fact that no one liked me in high school.
My job is known for creating very successful people but also for being extremely hard. Many hours and constant pressure, surprise deadlines, and sometimes bad teams are an amazing combination for a mental health disaster. When I first got it, after an endless and very complex interview process, I thought “It’s okay, I’m in my twenties, I can suffer at this time of my life, and it won’t matter” – but it turns out it really does.
So now, on paper, I’m successful. My LinkedIn is cool, my parents are proud, and my salary allows me to have very expensive cheese for breakfast.
But then one day, I’m in a Zoom meeting presenting to a very important CEO and I have to excuse myself and turn off my camera (but keep presenting) because I can’t breathe
But then one day, I’m in a Zoom meeting presenting to a very important CEO and I have to excuse myself and turn off my camera (but keep presenting) because I can’t breathe and my face is full of tears. My dog keeps looking at me, amazed at how I click on “mute” at the timing of my hyperventilation.
I have five panic attacks in a day and each one is worse than the last. I cry harder than with any death on Grey’s Anatomy all day in front of the computer. I overeat, can’t sleep, my face looks like I’ve been to a thousand funerals and I definitely cannot think of a brighter future.
This is not the future I want. But at the same time, this is the future I want – I want to be one of those great girl bosses admired by young girls around the world, and to have a very intimidating office in New York with glass walls and plants. I want to be successful, and I know success takes hard work, but my body is telling me that I can’t keep living like this, and I really don’t want to. You see, when you look at the bigger picture, it’s just a couple of years of “suffering” – but then, when you wake up every morning in tears because you don’t want to live the day ahead, those years turn into an eternity.
And, of course, you cannot respond by saying “I purposefully eat bad food from the fridge because I secretly believe dying would be better than this” when your team and your boss ask “How are you?”, so you keep going. You keep working until 1am when it’s your mom’s birthday, on a presentation that no one is going to read but someone has requested, you keep going when you get an urgent (that’s not really urgent) request on a Sunday, you keep at it when you ask people for support and no one is willing to help.
Is it just my job that’s really bad, or maybe I’m a lazy millennial?
So the big question is, do I want the success and the intimidating office, or to be happy? Is it possible to have both? Is it just my job that’s really bad, or maybe I’m a lazy millennial? I know my parents have been through worse than this, and I know sometimes I’m too sensitive, so is this all I can tolerate?
I used to have a very clear plan about how my career was going to go but now I’m not sure I can make it. Of course, this makes me feel guilty, because maybe I am too lazy and maybe suffering is necessary, but being an overachiever always gives you a constant sense of guilt that you’re not doing enough, and I can’t tell if it’s true or not.
I tend to close all my blog posts with a big answer to all my questions but for this one, I don’t have one. One thing is now clear, my plan is not necessarily going to make me happy – so the choice is now mine to make.