As I write this, it’s 12:48 AM. After a full day of work followed by recording a new episode for the podcast, I realize that I’ve been going for 18 hours straight. That fact brings me a sense of satisfaction. Honestly, I love this podcast. I love the creative liberty it allows, I love the team I work with. I love the challenge of making it everything that Drea & I know it can be.
As a California native, and valley girl more specifically, I grew up in an environment where literally anything was possible. This place is a haven for innovation and creative expression. Only in LA can you bump into a superstar at a bagel shop and not blink twice. This is the city where even the most audacious whims seem both plausible and attainable. But, if you live here you know that amidst this hub of creative activity, a certain level of hustle is required to make it. As laid back as LA can be, one thing is certain. You can’t just come here and coast. You have to grind. Don’t let the jeans and sneakers fool you. Hustle and flow is a part of LA’s DNA. And while I concede that hard work, dedication, and stick-to-itiveness are all imperative ingredients for success, I submit that non-stop hustle is the last celebrated addiction. Allow me to explain…
Last year something pretty traumatic happened in my life. It was one of the “Big Ones” that brings you to your knees. Rather than take a moment to “pause for the cause”, my automatic inclination was to hustle. And by hustle I mean taking on additional classes in school, starting a podcast, starting a business, and writing a pilot; all in addition to my full-time job. I know this may just seem ambitious. But there was a major malfunction at work here.
The truth was I had used my hustle to hide my hurt. My strategy was to keep everyone else so focused on all the things I was accomplishing that they wouldn’t notice how poorly I was actually doing.
I became a master of deflection. I hustled during the day. I hustled at night. I hustled so hard I actually believed my own fallacy. I was fine. I just needed to stay busy all the time. So busy that I could ignore the voice in my head telling me one thing and one thing only “You are broken.” My pride wouldn’t allow for that acknowledgment. And even if it was true as a grown independent woman, “Aint nobody got time for that.”
The fact is, you can lie to yourself and everyone around you. But don’t be mistaken, these things have a way of catching up with you. I was no exception. I gained all the weight I had worked so hard to lose due to not eating at all or out of vending machines. I stopped working out on account of being “too busy”. All my relationships suffered because I was buried in meetings, study sessions, and emotionally unavailable. I couldn’t sleep; which for me is unheard of. And even when I managed to doze off, I would wake up just as tired as when I first lay down. I was not rested and I was not well. This went on for months on end until I was too exhausted to keep up the farce. I called my best friend over and the meltdown ensued.
That was the beginning of my silver lining. I’m not going to tell you it was easy. It wasn’t. I won’t imply that there is some On/Off switch to rebuilding. There isn’t. But, what I will say is that when I stopped hiding behind the guise of hustling I actually began healing. And it was the good, slow, permanent kind. For me, that looked like canceling commitments and postponing new initiatives. It meant reaching out to my loved ones for support and allowing them to help me. I had to make myself unavailable for a lot of things I would have normally said yes to in order to be present and accountable for my own self-care. There were tears and long naps, support groups and spa days, prayers and pow-wows with my friends, and the occasional Haagen-Dazs bender. Okay, maybe not so occasional. I was so used to rescuing people when they were down, I didn’t know what to do when that person was me. It was uncomfortable to feel so incapacitated but it was exactly what I needed.
And I did heal. On the other side of that season I have two takeaways:
1) You can rise from the ashes and begin again. I know because I did it.
2) There is no shame in sitting a few rounds out to regroup and take care of yourself. That doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. We all need to be on the receiving end sometimes, so make sure you aren’t surrounded by people who only know how to take.
I’m still grinding these days; there’s just more balance. I blow bubbles with my nephew. I sleep when I’m tired. I smother my friends with hugs and kisses. I make family dinner a priority. I dance in my living room and take more selfies. I laugh with my mother and get lost in conversation with my Dad. And, I’m thrilled to report that I’m creating and dreaming again! As I write this, it’s 2:16AM. It has been a long productive day and I’m energized.
The hustle hasn’t stopped, it’s just healthy and authentic now. I’m done with hiding. And that makes all the difference.