The Joy and Stigma of Burnout

Today, the sun is shining and I am working from home, so things don’t seems as bad.
The last few days have been interesting, as I have become more aware that the my work-related anger and dissatisfaction does not originate with the people at work, or the place I work, or the work itself, but from that beast that so many white-collar professionals suffer from: burnout.
Burnout is not sexy. In the US and Canada, it is seen as a sign of weakness, a lack of the American Work Ethic. NPR had a great discussion of burnout this week, and New York Magazine published a cover article on it this week.
Listening to NPR on Monday, there was a story of how the US armed forces are punishing soldiers who return from Iraq and are diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) [here]. The successful soldiers see the soldiers (what defines success for a soldier?) with PTSD as weaklings, people who should be punished, pushed out onto the streets, stripped of their American citizenship as cowards and traitors.
I do not claim that PTSD and work-related burnout are equal; my focus here is on the stigma that the US culture places on doing the job, regardless of what the job does to you.
You can do the job. Good. What kind of person are you?
I am a rebel. I do not fit the US success criteria. I don’t want a title. I don’t want a box on an org chart. I don’t want to have the biggest bank account. And I have no respect for people who worship at the temple of US success until they show me that they can do something that I respect.
Today. I wrote an email to my manager and VP stating that during my Christmas break this year, I will be completely unreachable for  anything work-related. Unreachable for EVERYTHING work-related. It is likely that I will be seen as “letting the team down”, as it is not only end-of-quarter, but end-of-year.
You know what? I don’t care. I am more important than my job. If the company I work for now doesn’t recognize that, I will find a new company.
You know who the most successful people I know are? My friends who “dropped out” of the corporate world, moved to Maine, and are slaving, day and night, to get their under-funded winery project off the ground. While raising three kids. While renovating and repairing 200-year old farm buildings.
Success does not come from money, power, or a title. I comes from having the respect of the people around you. I comes from a desire to get up in the morning and do something that completes you, fills a void inside you.
Right now, when I get up, I step into a void.
Burnout. It’s here to stay.
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4 Replies to “The Joy and Stigma of Burnout”

  1. Hi, every Thursday I blog hop for my thirteen Thursday and came across your blog.
    I wish their was a quiz for me to see if I’m a rebel or not. One time I apply at Wal Mart for employment and I don’t think they care for my answers to their personality quiz.
    I’m not a big fan of cliques.
    Anyhow have a great day and stop by.

  2. Hi, every Thursday I blog hop for my thirteen Thursday and came across your blog.I wish their was a quiz for me to see if I’m a rebel or not. One time I apply at Wal Mart for employment and I don’t think they care for my answers to their personality quiz.I’m not a big fan of cliques.Anyhow have a great day and stop by.

  3. hey i came across a news article which said
    expectation – rewards = burn out
    Even I recently quit – reason burn out!
    Instead of taking a break I quit … 🙂
    BTW – I am almost done reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth – I think bipolar etc – you will appreciate the book … All the best with ya stress
    PS: you are in my greader – due to the bipolar commeness factor but I guess our interests slightly also match in the web2.0 world.
    Wanna do something for Bipolars in the Web2.0 world??

  4. hey i came across a news article which saidexpectation – rewards = burn outEven I recently quit – reason burn out!Instead of taking a break I quit … :-)BTW – I am almost done reading Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth – I think bipolar etc – you will appreciate the book … All the best with ya stressPS: you are in my greader – due to the bipolar commeness factor but I guess our interests slightly also match in the web2.0 world.Wanna do something for Bipolars in the Web2.0 world??

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