For the past couple of months, I’ve been on a work placement (unpaid, I might add) at an organisation that supports victims of domestic violence. It was a unique and challenging experience in many ways. Not only was there the learning curve that comes with working for a new organisation, but there was also academic work to complete for uni (reading and writing about domestic violence) as well as an emotional load that comes with this kind of crisis work.
In my second week working there I came down with a nasty cold. I took a few days off, not wanting to spread it around the office. Unfortunately, two weeks later I came down with another virus. I had to complete a certain number of hours as part of the work placement and by this time I had meetings, clients and other commitments. So I only took one day off, then downed some panadol and kept dragging myself into work.
Long story short, it turned out I had strep throat, bronchitis and a sinus infection – all at once!
On top of this job, I kept up a few hours a week at Diversityworks to manage DPSN’s 100 Days of Diversity, along with other projects. Let’s not even mention the thesis I am also supposed to be working on.
A few weeks and some good antibiotics later, I wrapped up the work placement. Literally the day after I left I came down with the flu…which about one week later turned into pneumonia. I could almost hear my body yelling at me: “Please, please Barbara! Stay in bed! Recover! Do nothing!!!”
But the 100 Days exhibition was coming up at the weekend. I had to set up and pack down. I had to attend and take photo’s. I had thesis work to catch up on. I had essays to complete. I had a million other errands to run.
Of course, despite all of my commitments, I couldn’t do a thing. I organised others to cover me at work, cancelled all my meetings and stayed in bed watching movies for about two weeks.
I’d like to say it’s been nice having time off, but of course I’ve been horribly sick so mostly it’s been a bit tough. But I’m finally starting to feel well again and get back into it.
So what did I learn from this whole saga? Well, I don’t think you need to be a genius to realise that I tend to over-commit myself. I usually don’t mind working hard, because for the most part I really enjoy the things that I work hard at. But I think sometimes I get caught in the trap of pushing through when I feel that there are things that I just simply “have” to do, for whatever reason.
In reality, the world is flexible and I am not indispensable! When I had to pull back for the sake of my health, everything was fine. I often call myself a “no coach”, because I’m always telling other people it’s okay to cancel their commitments when they feel overwhelmed. I should remember to take my own advice from time to time!