Why I Quit Last Year: 2019 Beginnings
Wow, I made it to the New Year!
If you haven’t read my last post yet, then maybe I should start with a little summary: the last two weeks of 2018 were quite challenging for me, and that’s putting it lightly. Many nights, I even described them as hell.
There were a few reasons, mainly:
Fatigue from working too much (daily vlogging and editing; teaching; writing; running a business during the holiday season)
Planning the big Parisian holiday trip (booking accommodations and transport; creating the itinerary; doing research; BUDGETING!!!)
Worrying about the future (Do I stay in Spain? Is there a future for my business? Is there still potential for Youtube?)
HOMESICKNESS (I badly missed my family — I still do)
Getting physically sick during winter. I had progressively worse fever every day, chronic headaches, chills… and I was running solely on ibuprofen. We celebrated Christmas Eve mass at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and I was sitting down the whole time, unable to support myself with my legs. Gah!
In summary, the last two weeks really pushed me to my limits. On the contrary though, being pushed to my limits also allowed me to tell myself to quit trying for a little bit, and take a break.
Knowing myself, “quitting” is not something I’m accustomed to, and it’s something that I give myself a hard time over all the time. To me, quitting is the worst thing I could do. Taking a break is a close second.
For the longest time, I always thought taking a break meant time wasted and precious opportunities gone. I always worried about the tasks I could still do, all the learning I could possibly achieve, all the money I could earn, all the meetings I could knock out, and all the places I could visit. More, more, more. I always wanted more.
But when my body had given up on me and my emotional state proved to be fragile, I had to take a step back, allow myself to breathe, and make space for some changes.
Here’s a quick recap of what went down during the last two weeks of 2018, and how I managed to turn it around and find myself again as I welcomed the New Year:
I stopped daily vlogging.
Content creation is my passion and I have many platforms to do it, such as my Youtube channel and this blog. While I absolutely enjoyed all 17 days of my Vlogmas episodes, it also took a toll on my health because I spent only 4 hours sleeping a day on average, and many many hours editing on my laptop daily. My brain was always on high alert for “vloggable” content, and I couldn’t experience moments for the simple moments that they were. I was always narrating, storytelling, directing. I wasn’t living.
Resting from vlogging made me relax so much more, because the pressure that I put on myself was instantly gone. I no longer felt like I had a deadline, and I no longer felt like constantly checking my statistics. I finally enjoyed the school break as it was: A BREAK! :)
I cancelled my trip to Belgium.
It’s quite a shame to get sick in Paris of ALL places, but alas it happened to me. It was my fault, too, for not taking care of my body when I should have. So to correct that mistake, I decided to fly home to Madrid from Paris, instead of getting on my bus to Belgium. Normally, I’m the type to carry on with the itinerary and fight until the end, but it did not feel right this time. I trusted my gut, and I’m now sitting on my bed with no regrets. I can always visit Belgium if I want to, and I want to do that when I’m 100% ready to embrace the experience. I think I’ll visit when it’s no longer winter and I can function like my sunny self again.
I splurged on my mental and physical health.
Okay, I didn’t splurge, but I did spend some money I initially didn’t want to. I’m always cutting back on spending, but this time around, I did not feel bad about spending to recover.
For one, I paid an extra hundred euros for a flight home. It was pricey but necessary. Afterwards, I went to the doctor (paid nothing because YAY healthcare!) and got myself the right medication (this one I happily paid for). Once I started feeling better, I went on a grocery binge and got myself fruits for dayzzzz, literally. I needed a supply of healthy snacks. Finally, in the middle of an emotional breakdown, I bought myself a one-year subscription to Headspace.
Headspace is a guided meditation app that helps you create a better relationship with your thoughts. This was SUCH a big help to me a year ago, but then I cancelled my membership when my free trial had expired. I told myself I could survive without it, but it turns out, I do need help. I am a natural overthinker, and when my mind has nothing but negative thoughts, it’s easy to get drowned in the chaos. I started meditating again, and I think I’m off to a good start.
I slept more.
Siesta, siesta, siesta, and 8 hours of sleep a night. I don’t have to elaborate on this, but to say that I’ve recovered all the sleep I’ve lost is an understatement. I needed to rest, and rest I did.
I logged out of Twitter and deleted the app off my phone.
I love Twitter, but lately it’s been a huge stressor for me and a lot of conversations online have triggered some nasty memories. Memories that I’ve long tried to recover from — memories that have at one point made me unkind to myself. And so instead of fighting with words and continuing to defend a lost cause, I just removed myself from the chaos and took a break.
I realized that I don’t really need to change people’s minds; I just need to be at peace with mine.
I tried to be kinder to myself.
The mind is very, very powerful. I’ve always believed that. But a mind on overdrive can be two things: your driving force OR a crutch.
When your mind is filled with optimism and willpower, you can easily move from one task to another without breaking a sweat. Everything is organized, nothing is insurmountable. But when your mind is filled with crippling self-doubt and frustrations? I don’t know how it is for you, but for me, nothing else follows but an emotional breakdown. Lots of crying, staying inside my room, and heavy breathing.
The last two weeks of 2018 was the latter, and I conquered that by slowly decluttering my mind. Okay, Ayn. You can stop working on that first. Okay, Ayn. You can stop responding to messages. Okay, Ayn. You can stop vlogging. Okay, Ayn. You can stop traveling. Okay, Ayn. You can stop trying.
And for a person who constantly tries, stopping was the only way to reset. Stopping was the only way to be kind to myself. And so that’s exactly what I did.
Now — am I hitting the ground running as 2019 starts?
No, not really.
But I am ready to start trying again, and to me, that’s more than good enough.
Have a happy year, friends! Thanks for being here.