When I take a few days off to see my family, I notice a subtle shift. A shift that started years ago, from weeks with weekends to weeks without. From days with evenings to days without. From a dream to an endless list of unticked boxes. A standard response of ‘Sorry, I have to work’, that I consciously have to rewire when I realize that joining my siblings for a blueberry quest or an evening dip in the lake means a thousand times more than another hour in the office.
Adding a summer of thirty-hour weeks of volunteering to my already cluttered schedule has brought me closer than ever to the edge between stress and burn-out. I am swaying here, on the edge, still unsure of what to make of the life laid out in front of me. Safe and terrified. Proud and inadequate. Grateful and tired to the bone. Stronger and more fragile than ever.
I know things have to change when this summer is over. I have to learn to say no, not just to other people, but also, and perhaps most importantly, to myself. I have to set boundaries. I have to make space. For healing. For rest. Without guilt. Without stress.