It’s Just a Season….or Is It?

Article Highlights

  • Women are members of the Cephalopoda class; complex and intelligent creatures, with well-developed senses, nervous systems, and really big brains
  • What makes us stronger, just might  kill us too
  • Current studies in the workplace reveal women reporting burnout levels post-pandemic
  • The importance of true self-assessment

“Women are the greatest untapped natural resource on this planet”

regena thomashauer

Regena, I could not agree more!

Women are incredible creatures. I personally like to think of us as Octopuses. Yeah, that’s right. Disguised under silky soft skin with lovely lady humps as mechanisms of distraction; we are sexy alien cephalopods with 8 multitasking tentacles, manifesting themselves as our strongest characteristics:

  • communication,
  • intelligence,
  • empathy,
  • problem-solving
  • ambition
  • compassion,
  • creativity annnndddd…
  • our freakishly high tolerance for pain.

From leaders in the home to leaders in the workplace, our suction-cupped qualities have made us very versatile instruments in this world. Our strong abilities to empathize, problem solve and communicate have been studied and documented as some of the strongest skill sets that women possess boosting workplace success. Our nature to nurture makes women amazing mentors lifting others up, and raising future leaders under us. On the flip side though, exercising these very same qualities daily is leading women to burn out. Since the pandemic, working women most specifically, are reporting higher levels of exhaustion than men.

 A lot of women are now finding themselves questioning their positions. Questioning if their once dream job is fulfilling them or draining them leading them searching for a new career path. But those are not the questions they should be asking themselves.  Instead, they should be asking themselves why am I exhausted? Are my needs being met? What are my needs?

In our continued battle of figuring out this work-life balance bullshit, where the border lines that once barely separated: work, pleasure, responsibility, me time, and family time, have now become completely obliterated and too much is being taken on. But your average woman does not see it that way. She is shaming herself. Out of fear of failure— of fear of looking weak. Out of lack of a true self-estimate.

“Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can”

seneca

It is no secret that throughout history women have been oppressed and our qualities overlooked. So much so that telling a woman of today she can’t do something is taken as a very enticing invitation. You just rolled out the welcome carpet now, Buddy!  And because of such oppression that courses through our ancestral bloodlines mixed with the “skys the limit” environment we strive to live in today, our pride is high, as is the bar that is set for ourselves.  Modern-day women of the world I salute you. I salute us. We have beautifully mastered the art of showing without telling; however, it has come with a hefty price tag. The cost: $TRESS.

Prior to the pandemic women were already feeling high levels of stress and although they were making significant strides in the labor force, studies showcased data with surprising consistent trends across the board: as opportunities in the workforce for females increased, the levels of a woman’s happiness decreased. Although there were a few different suggestions given as to why this may be, my takeaway was that women did not take into account the roles that they played outside of the office making the terms “2nd shift” and “invisible work” a very real thing.

And now, with the constant flux of new workplace policy and regulation changes brought on since the pandemic, employers have been called upon to support their staff to a level of an unprecedented degree. Affecting not only just women with children, but all women in general and in all organizations, their leadership roles are having to adjust and respond with even higher levels of emotional, physical, and NOW psychological endurance. Studies, data, and articles everywhere are calling this “Pandemic Fatigue”. 

“We have no experience prioritizing our own joy or making an investment in ourselves. But it is very easy to say yes to responsibility and obligation. We are highly motivated when we can be of service to someone else”.

Regena thomashauer i pussy: a reclamation

Sadly, we still live in a culture where women have been conditioned to render acts of selfless service, (mothers or not) and so we don’t seek reward or give ourselves reward, especially not in the practice of self-care. Only guilt is found there. We were not properly taught how to set boundaries. We only know that boundaries created are uncomfortable for others. And why would we want to do that? So instead, we just keep on keeping on.

Additionally, we are blinded by our own sense of pride too. By our own inner Rosie the Riveter “We can do it!” type attitudes. Consequently, if we are not being called or looked at like psycho bitches, we have days where we feel like it. With the combination of not using our voices for the right reasons while trying to do everything by ourselves, we sometimes lose our shit. PSA ladies: Bitch Face is a concoction of exhaustion, irritability, resentment, and a pinch of “why are you still talking to me” thoughts. It’s a bitter drink and not one that is wanted at a party.

The bottom line: We are not addressing the matter at hand. We are not asking ourselves the right questions and we are not looking out of a clear lens.  

After chatting with a friend who decided that she was leaving her career to pursue another, shedding tears as she broke the news to me, I wanted to inquire with more of my friends about how they were feeling. If they have noticed extra stressors post-pandemic, or if they even recognize signs of stress in their lives.

I wondered if my friend could recognize the changes that I recognized that she needed to make, that she should make, would that have given her a reason to stay in her stressful industry? If she knew that by offering herself care and giving herself the attention she needed, she would get back to that place of overflow.  

I interviewed a lot of my girlfriends who work in many different industries and the majority of them concurred. I was amazed. The biggest issue causing their exhaustion was the chief complaint of they’re investing most of their time in helping their team navigate work/life challenges, ensuring their safety, and finding alternative work methods to keep them employed, so much so that they are not able to actually DO their own work in the time slotted for work.

One of my closest friends was telling me how she reached out to her boss to let him know that her next week was entirely lost to 55 hours of meetings and that it made it impossible for her to be effective in the office and in her role. His reply: “That’s what Saturdays are for”.  

And if it wasn’t a complaint about extra pressures in the office, it was the extra amount of work added for my friends who transitioned to working in their homes.  You would think that would have been at least a perk but ALL of them have said that they are actually working MORE, sitting at their computers longer. Since they have their equipment at home with them—they felt a responsibility to be engaged at all times. An obligation.

In further speaking with my girls, I have heard the same theme amongst all of them. Did they feel exhausted? Yes, they recognized that. What I don’t believe they recognize is the outcome of carrying on the way that they are. Instead, being the affirmation creatures that we are, all they said was:

  • It’s just a season
  • This too shall pass.
  • I just got to get through the next few months

Surprisingly, I have found myself saying those things too, so I cannot judge them. I actually started to notice sensations of turmoil within my own life. Since we have the ability to recognize things in others moreso than ourselves, my friends have helped me see that I too am sitting in a place of denial about my own day to day responsibilities. I also realized through our conversations that “Pandemic Fatige” didn’t just affect the working woman, it also affected women who stay at home, or as I like to refer to them as“Domestic Engineers”.

Through their voices I have recognized that they (and me) in general, discredit themselves giving true definition to the term “invisible work” : necessary tasks and activities that are overlooked, underappreciated, and don’t lead to any type of advancement.

“Out of suffering has emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars”

kahlil gibran

As female leaders and are meeting this moment right now exercising every single tentacle they have, probably trying to grow an extra one, and with all the data from recent studies of women in the workforce, companies really do need to take this burn out crisis seriosuly and support all their leaders. Yes, I include the leadership roles of the mens too! We like the mens. There is no denying how the pandemic has effected us all.

But until then, action now. Accountability now. It is time to make self care a priority and to really take a step back and assess if this really is just a season or some serious changes need to be made. Understanding and learning our desires ultimately mean following our truth. We have an important role in this world and in the lives of many. We cannot allow the momentum to be interrupted.

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