Tuesday, 20 September 2022

Paperback's Pondering's: Burning Out

 CW: this post will discuss panic attacks and anxiety 

Last week, I was burnt out. I worked eight days in a row, after having to pick up a few extra shifts due to other coworkers calling in sick and my manager needing the extra help. I didn't at all mind helping out my manager. She was in a tough position and the scheduling conflicts were outside of her control. However, in my inability to say "no" to anything, I ended up taking on a lot more then I could handle and paid the price for it. This is me pondering burn out culture, and the problems when you just can't say no in a workplace. 

If you noticed, I was very inconsistent with posting on the blog for the past two weeks. This is because I simply had no extra time to write. If I wasn't sleeping, I was at my workplace, which is supposed to be a part-time job but very quickly turned into full-time because of said unforeseen scheduling conflicts. I felt awful for my manager because I could tell that she very clearly didn't want to ask me to take on extra work, but with other coworkers heading back to school and other folks on vacation, she simply didn't have a choice. But, this is me saying that two things can exist at the same time. I can feel bad for my manager and appreciate that she didn't want to ask me to take on extra work, but I am also allowed to reflect on how real I burnt out and take actions to ensure that it does not happen again. 

Most folks with social anxiety, or any other anxiety may feel the need to people-please. They may think that they just can't say no to anyone asking for help, even if they're so stressed that their help may even just be a hinderance. I definitely fall into this category. Now don't get me wrong, if anyone needed my help with a serious, life-altering issue, I would put aside whatever I was doing and jump right in. However, with smaller things, like picking up extra shifts, sometimes I find the need to just say yes to everything, that I end up neglecting other important things in my life. That is exactly what happened this time. I couldn't say no to anything, so I ended up neglecting other obligations, like driving my sister to appointments she needed to go to, or failing to get the ball rolling on some applications and projects that I needed to get done. I was so focused on pleasing one aspect of my life, that being my work, that I forgot that life requires a balance, an equal weighting of all important things in life. 

By day eight, I almost sent myself into a panic attack. I was so tired, as my work involves a lot of physical and emotional energy. Working in customer service, you do need to be "on" all the time. You can never show any ounce of being tired, or like you don't want to be where you are. However, this can be extremely draining on a person. I didn't feel like myself after a while. Instead, I felt like a customer service robot, who went to sleep every night and woke up every morning ready to keep sales goals up and maintain a sugary-sweet voice. At night when I went home, I still felt like I had to be working. For reference, after every hour when I'm at work, we have to track where the store's sales for the day are currently at in a little chart. When I came home, after every hour, my brain would automatically go to: "I gotta put the information into the chart!" That doesn't seem like a very healthy way to live. 

In the future, I really need to work on being honest with the people around me and letting them know when things are just a bit too much. It was just as easy for me to say: "manager, I understand you really need my help, but I do have other appointments today, so would it be possible for me to do a four hour shift instead of an eight hour shift?" In any sort of environment, compromise is incredibly important, so that all parties are on the same page and so that nobody is taking on more than they can handle. I'm confident that my manager would have said yes, as she would have understood that I was taking on a lot more than in an average week. But, I didn't even ask, because I felt like I couldn't. I just had to say yes, and that is not the way to live. 

Some of you may know that I am looking for full-time positions at the moment. In my future jobs, and even in my job now, I'm going to make every effort to be a hard worker, without compromising my mental health. I'll be a team player, but I'll be honest with my team when things get too tough. I will ask for help when needed. I have learned a difficult lesson that being a hard worker and team player doesn't mean taking on everything by yourself. It's about working with the people around you to make sure that everyone is comfortable and has both the workplace and their own health as top priorities. Burning out is not something to be proud of, and I hope it never happens to me again. 

Have you ever been burnt out? Do you feel like you can't say no to people? 

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. Life does need balance, so true. And it is easy to not say no and just roll with the flow, which can of course screw us up in other ways! I do feel like I do that sometimes to- agree to something I regret later because I felt obligated to do it, or it was easier not say no. I think part of it's our lifestyle too. I know so many people who are on call after work or are expected to take calls at all hours. It's almost like as time goes on we have to work MORE rather than LESS, when you would think in 2022 it would be opposite. :)

    1. For sure! I definitely think that work culture has become really toxic. We can never really leave work at work, especially when more people are working from home too.

  2. *hugs* - take care of yourself Em!

    I never know when something is burnout or not - I def. overdo it sometimes, but I've never been able to figure out what other people mean by burnout, since my baseline is a not-especially-healthy existential tiredness!

    1. That makes sense, Cee! But, I do hope you work through that existential tiredness!