To provide some context to this next piece, I need to explain something. I work too hard. I always have. My sense of self-worth is inextricably tied to how much people like me is inextricably tied to how much work I deliver and how brilliant AND fast AND affordable it is. People tell me to slow down. People tell me I need boundaries. People tell me to take care of myself.
I ignore them.
Why? Because a good night’s rest bears no weight against a single word of approval. None. Nada. Not-a-sausage. I feel the absence of those positive strokes like a physical ache and it bores through my soul like cancer. Like water in lungs. Sleep be damned.
Yesterday, my mentor said three words and blew my mind. Because he’s a genius. And he changed the way I work and the way I view myself, my work, and my time.
Since I was fourteen, working around the clock and drinking inordinate amounts of black coffee to finish French projects, people have been telling me to guard my time more wisely. They’ve explained about boundaries. They’ve expounded on the necessity of placing a higher value on my work and my time.
No one has every called me unprofessional before.
It was exactly the wake up call and perspective shift I needed.
Those words have been burning a pathway into the core of my brain and I can feel paradigms shifting all over the place.
Changing the conversation from some ephemeral self-help discussion to a cool, calm assessment of how other people see me was like an ice-cold slap in the face with a wet fish. Not pleasant, but effective. And rejuvenating.
I am in his debt.
Update – 14/09: I should have mentioned that what my mentor referred to as unprofessional was the fact that I have been saying “Yes” to every client request I get, without planning my time or being realistic about what I can actually take on. I thought I had to. When he pointed out that, rather than make me look awesome and helpful, that behaviour was the one thing I did that is actually UNprofessional, it was the wake up call I needed. And I appreciate it. And it’s a good thing. 🙂