I almost forgot what it meant to be kind to oneself.
The past month, I had thrown myself into completing my work so fully that a whole month went by before I realized what I had done to myself.
It's funny, the lesson we learnt in school and in our younger lives was to work hard, hard and harder. By doing so, we were taught, we would reap the rewards later on.
We then carry that lesson onto our adult working lives, but technological advances and Whatsapp mean that we don't just work, but we have to work harder, harder and hardest out of them all. And that somehow our reward would come.
So under a sense of responsibility and impending fulfilment, I worked. I worked hard and I brought home the work telling myself that it would all be better later on, that I was making my future life easier this way if I just worked hard, now. I would postpone my enjoyment of life and my leisure activities and somehow it would all pay off.
Well, a month went by and guess what? I got nothing but a sheer sense of relief that it was all over. Nothing like the sense of divine fulfilment I was supposed to feel.
Yet, one day, I was about to carry on the work at work, when I just looked at everything on my desk and I had a sudden sense of nausea. Nothing to do with morning sickness, just a sickness of all... this.
I calculated that I had enough time to carry on the next day, and I ditched the work and went for a good lunch at Plaza Sing.
I continued the next afternoon at Taka. And today I went back to Taka again.
If work was supposed to be so fulfilling and satisfying, then why is it I only felt refreshed and human when I was out of it?
I made a small but costly mistake. I mistook work for life. I mistakenly thought that this was what life was about, to be a responsible working adult and do the work to pay the bills and this was how normal people were supposed to live.
I forgot about all the other things about life. Like walking in the sun. Or having a good lunch. Or the pleasure of a quiet cafe with a good book.
I'm lucky I realized this in time because some in my line weren't so lucky, judging by the 5000 of us who leave the profession each year, with a top reason being the workload. It just overwhelmed them and swarmed, they left for better pastures and better lives. They learnt the hard way that the work wasn't worth the life they sacrificed.
Who knows, what if they had known how to be nice to themselves and forgive themselves for the work they did not or could not do to the satisfaction of others?
So be kind to yourself. It's not always a bad thing to be lazy and it's not always selfish to leave everything and just do something for yourself. Don't let it get so bad that your whole life becomes overswarmed but take it back while you can.
And enjoy all those afternoon teas. :)