The problem: being bad-ass at my job and performing at the level I was translated into working when I was home, desecrating my social life to be online and responding to emails, answering calls from frantic sales guys at 11 o'clock at night, accepting more and more responsibility in order to get the work done, even my slumber was surrendered as I would dream I was at the office when I was lucky enough to fall asleep-most nights I was in a ball mentally working through the to-do list.
I was okay with it, because I knew the commitment I had made through the holidays. In mid-January though, I was sitting in my cubicle, on my headset in front of a 27" display, giving a presentation to senior leadership, and I bombed my presentation. Bombed it. Epic failure. The slide deck wasn't done, and the work was clearly not up to par.
I got off the call and set my head on my desk, not even bothering to remove my headset. So this is what failure felt like? As I sat there ruminating in what had transpired I recalled a conversation with my management from the week before when they'd asked how I was holding up and I had answered, "I'm beyond my limit, I'm keeping everything together by doing the minimum required for everything, and I'm not sure when but something is going to fall through the cracks." Hello cracks.
My phone started to ring. I got on another call and listened to storming and raging by another team about why my team was out to jeopardize everything they had worked for.
All I could think was, what am I doing here?
I got up and grabbed my manager and pulled him into a team room for a chat. In the next 30 seconds I made a bad female employee mistake. I got angry, I got emotional, I got teary eyed. My (male) manager didn't know what to do. Obviously crying girl makes any man uncomfortable, but when one of the rock solid performers on your team is having a crying breakdown in front of you thats obviously hard to handle. I regained my composure, looked him square in the eye, and told him, "I can't do this anymore. And I have no choice but to look for another job because if I have to be berated by anymore people I interact with about how I am not doing enough when I've sacrificed my personal life, my family and a relationship to be here I am going to snap."
Then I walked to my desk, grabbed my purse and my keys-and left the office. At 10 in the morning.
I went home and slept for 20 straight hours.
I woke up to 18 messages from sales rep desperate for my help. One of them had called me 8 times. In a 2 hour span of time.
I didn't give a rip. I had fallen through the cracks, and was enjoying the free fall of not giving a damn.
Reaching my limit was a blessing, because once I got there I remembered that it was just a job, a job I had done well-and far beyond the original expectation that had been outlined months before. I remembered my priorities: and one of my priorities is being excellent at my job and respecting the people in my life and having them respect me-and I was being set up to fail.
And once I realized that, I could remind other people as well. And draw the line about what was acceptable to me, those cracks made that line extremely easy to see.