WHEN YOU WANT TO GIVE UP, TAKE A STEP BACK.

You may have noticed that WEDGE Collective has gone a little quiet online. It went a little quiet in physicality too and that’s because I took some time out to realign my personal focus and the direction of WEDGE. It all stemmed from a testing couple of months, which started with me hiding away but will end with me sharing the path to bigger and better things with you all.

A few weeks ago, I found myself feeling pretty helpless and massively overwhelmed by my working situation. I have of course, like many of us - freelancers/business owners or otherwise - felt overwhelmed by work before; but this just felt different. It was a stress like I had experienced previously but I was in a constant state of that stress - which was totally new.

I was stressed about work whilst doing the work and stressed about work whilst talking about work. That stress about work soon spread throughout my morning routine: getting dressed, packing my things and when only absolutely necessary, commuting to places for work. I eventually became stressed about work whilst eating dinner, watching TV and during the small amount of socialising I was allowing myself to take part in.

That constant overbearing stress about work then became about those daily actions themselves. I was stressed about getting ready in the morning. I was too fat, my clothes were too old because I wasn’t good enough at my job, so couldn’t afford to splash out on new ones. What if I never got work again? I couldn’t spend the money I did have on clothes but I needed the clothes to wear for work.

I became stressed about travelling and commuting to places - people were looking at me, what if I bumped into someone I didn’t want to? (which was anyone at that point). I should have been doing work in that time spent travelling somewhere.

I was stressed about  dinner - I couldn’t choose food. For hours and hours and hours, I would debate what to eat and then I would become so hungry and faint that I’d have to grab anything that was within physical reach and of course I then couldn’t convince myself to dedicate time later on to making any food - because that time should have been spent working. The decision limbo would consume my whole day and every evening and then before I had decided on one minuscule task, it was time to go to bed. But who needs dinner anyway? The food would only make me fatter and more stressed.

It became a cycle. A cycling loop that continued and continued, more viciously by the day until the cycling loop became a spinning tornado, scaled above me, ripping through daily tasks and destroying any motivation or self belief I had to carry out those activities. I was now so stressed about doing anything, all I could physically achieve in a day was sitting and stressing about doing nothing.

Work thinned out as I sunk deeper into the silence I was putting out into the industry and what did come in terrified me, to my core. It sounds like I’m using aggrandised statements to form a fantastical story but literally every time my phone buzzed for an email, my heart sank and proceeded to beat rapidly to the point that I could feel it vibrate in the back of my head. Each act of contact from a client, friend or family member was like a knife point - each one joining the circle of blades surrounding me until there was only enough room left in that overshadowed space to give up my dreams and fill out an application form to work in a call centre.

And that’s what I did.

Everyone around me, whom I’d still let be around me, was telling me that this was a mistake - a waste of my potential and drive for a dream I now couldn’t even remember properly. A few people told me to get my head together and laughed it off but I couldn’t find humour in the situation this time. This left like life or death to me - I was convinced my heart would eventually get the better of me and I couldn’t express my fear of that efficiently enough, to anyone.

It wasn’t until a few days after an argument with my partner about my (secret) desperate decision, that we spoke about it again. It was in this conversation that I realised I hadn’t had a day off work in years. I hadn’t had a day off since I went completely freelance, which was over 3 years ago. Of course I’d had days where I hadn’t opened my laptop but there hadn’t been a single day in that stretch of time that I hadn’t had my phone in my hand continuously and at at least a few points in the day, done some work on it. I’m still struggling to identify a waking hour in that time that I haven’t thought about work or what I need to do to achieve or improve, in the most self-pressurising way. And it was exhausting.

That conversation with my partner resulted in the decision that I would try to take a week off work. Everyone has days off, don’t they? Annual leave is a thing when you work for someone else and I’m still a worker so I am allowed to do that too. I went through every valid reason I could give myself and even Googled some and read them aloud to myself, on repeat. Obviously there was the stress of not earning money for the time I was trying to relax but at this point, my health was a big concern to me - one greater than all of my other concerns, rational or irrational, so I knew it was breaking point.

Fast forward a few days and my attempted week off was not a success. I think I managed half of a day at a time, which I have come to realise - works! I’ve realised it was narrow-minded of me to think I could close my laptop for a week, go for a walk in the sunshine and all of my difficulties would go away. These were no longer difficulties like deadlines and missed emails - these were personal and mental difficulties. I couldn’t leave the house during and running up to that attempted week off but by working a little every day and going out a little every day, I began to discover a balance I could justify to myself. It sounds like an incredibly simple thing to do but when your head is so heavily pushed down by self-imposed pressure, it’s hard to pinpoint and remember the everyday things you used to do to stay sane. I’m still finding that balance and developing a true habit of listening to my body and self at the same time as smashing work out - but I’m enjoying the process and it definitely is a process, not to sound like all of those motivational hype books.

This new found understanding of myself and all the things I thought were fluff that I could dodge, has resulted in a calmer way of life for me. It feels slower and it feels much more productive and I have time to brush my teeth and smile each day now. This new found understanding has also brought a brand new WEDGE Collective offering to you, which will be unveiled shortly. At the moment, it exists only in my notebook and mind but I’m going to document the process of materialising that, just as I will my personal and business progress.

Glad to have you along for the ride.

JODIE GREENWOOD
FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR