Burn Out

My first day in insurance marketing and my last

My first day in insurance marketing and my last

The last few months I have not been living, I’ve been surviving. That hasn’t been a great feeling. I was pushing myself harder than I’ve ever pushed myself before and really and truly I still feel like I wish I could have done better or more. I was trying to do my best but honestly, I’m not 100% sure my best was even possible. That doesn’t mean I didn’t want that, though.

In August of 2013, I took a job in “Marketing.” It had been a year since Wyoming with the Dudes and horses. I was desperate for full-time employment and was applying for any job that I could. I was called in by a nice-sounding man who wanted to interview me and I went in, like I always did for interviews –  really nervous. We talked for a bit, and he told me that his background was in creative work, too and that I would be able to use those skills every day in the role I would be taking. The office was minimally furnished and there were three people working on the phones, asking for Social Security numbers and phone numbers and stuff. I just wasn’t sure what I was looking at. After being “persistent to the point of pushy” I got a second interview and a job offer. The man told me that I would be able to make a six figure income in four years based on getting contracts (whatever those were- I had no idea. He told me I would be using my creativity, so I didn’t care.) I accepted. I had no idea I was signing myself up to work in Telemarketing and Recruiting for the insurance business.

When I walked into my first day, I was still very confused, and I was told I needed to start listening to everyone else in the office to understand what I would be doing. By day three they wanted me on the phone calling agents. I didn’t know the first thing about insurance, any of it really. The first day I was so overwhelmed and caught in information overload, that I passed out as soon as I got home and slept until my alarm went off the next morning. Already in the first week, I was in tears almost every day.  I felt so out of my element and I was NOT using any of my creative skills. I felt stupid and frustrated and completely in over my head. The people at this office weren’t super friendly and I got the impression that I was supposed to sink or swim – and I had bricks tied to my ankles.

The guy that hired me turned out to be a little up and down and called me out a lot. He was pushing me and telling me that I needed to be more aggressive and at one point, he even called me a pansy.

I. HATED. IT. SO. MUCH!!!

I wanted to quit but I needed work. The work I was doing was so exhausting even though it was not physically taxing because I was doing so many things every day that were against my nature. My expectations were to call 100 insurance agents every day and within those 100 calls, I was supposed to get them to give me their email addresses so that I could send them information on the different products. I was supposed to get out info to at least 10 people on at least 2 products each. Then eventually, start closing 2 contracts a day.

Well… That didn’t work. I was terrible at it. I was not reeling in very many contracts, the insurance agents did not want to hear from me for the most part, and I was feeling like an asshole for the most part. I will say this; there were good moments. I developed relationships with several of my agents and providing good quality customer service was always the best part of my job.

The environment in the office was tense and hostile. I had never experienced anything like that before. People were suspicious of every one else, and gossiped like crazy. I’m ashamed to say that I actually participated in the gossip some times. Gossip is poisonous like that. It makes you feel like you’re connecting to the people that you are talking to, but at what expense? I realized pretty quickly on that I was not safe by participating in this behavior because everyone was gossiping about me too.

The manager that hired me ended up being relocated and the man who started the business ended up taking over the management side of the business. He was a lot nicer and easier to work for. Things improved, but I still hated the work and the environment in the office.

After many discussions and conferences, the new boss could tell how unhappy and unconfident I was in my work and slowly started to get me into a new role, which was a lot better and it got me off the phone. The problem was the way the pay system was designed. I would never make any money on base pay. It’s minimal and it’s set that way to encourage people to make commission. After a year of trying my commissions were abysmal.  If you don’t reach a certain point, you don’t actually see your commission. It’s a pretty common practice in commission-level jobs. This system really does work if you are good at that kind of job. People make a LOT of money in this industry. I just wasn’t one of them.

Anyway, this background info is going on a lot longer than I anticipated. Sorry about that followers! The long and the short of it was that I was not making very much money. And it was a struggle to make rent and pay bills.

I was told at some point we would renegotiate my salary but that I would have to make do for now.

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Only on my lunch break and so tired I needed to take a nap in my car

I was miserable. About halfway through working in this organization, I started living a Paleo lifestyle and that made a huge difference in my energy levels and general sense of being. After getting so sick, due to the stress of my job and poor nutrition and exercise, this was a huge step in the right direction. I started losing fat and that made me feel a lot better. At least I was taking control over something with which I could actually make positive changes.

That satiated me for a while. In a moment of desperation over a glass of wine one night last November, I emailed everyone from Facebook that I knew who seemed like they had a job that they enjoyed and asked them to critique my resume just so that I could get as many opinions as possible before I started really sending it out to potential employers. As fate would have it, one of these friends ended up having a position available for a person of my skill set and desperately needing help. The company she works for is called Jax and Bones.

They were creating a new position. They needed someone to handle social media as well as do some web maintenance, but they wanted to see how the position would evolve by using my strengths and helping them with my photography. They wanted to start out with very limited part time hours and build up over time. This meant that I would have to keep working for the insurance marketing company while also putting in as many hours as I could doing social media for Jax and Bones. I took the position and knew that the next few months would be tough. And boy howdy they were. As it turns out, living a dual life is very exhausting. As much as I loved what I was doing for Jax and Bones, I hated feeling like I was keeping something from my full-time boss and I was super distracted when I was in the office.

I was so stressed out all the time and as a result, my nutritional habits went by the way-side. I was eating things like donuts, mac and cheese and biscuits and drinking decaf coffee like a madwoman. I felt terrible. Not only were these foods making me feel physically ill but I also felt guilty and regretful.

Then the day came where I could finally quit my full time job. Jax and Bones increased my hours and I was offered another part time job on my own terms at an insurance agent’s office and the environment seemed so much better.

I’m a week into my new schedule and I feel so great about not being at the other marketing place. My financial situation is going to improve dramatically I think. I’m doing something that I’m super passionate about. I get to work for an amazing company photographing dogs and creating posts for social media.

The only hitch is that I think that everything it took for me to get to this place put me in severe, clinical burn-out. I find myself sleeping a lot, and not wanting to cook or do much of anything. Sometimes I don’t even feel like eating at all. I’m trying to get back into the groove of healthy eating, but sweets are calling my name. Sometimes I indulge, and other times I find strength within not to.

When I first decided to live a paleo lifestyle, the decision to eat good things was really easy. I gave myself the choice any time I felt like I was given the opportunity to “cheat” or whatever you want to call it. I would look at the situation and ask myself “Do I want to feel the small satisfaction for a temporary time period- seconds or minutes – or do I want to CHOOSE to love myself, instead? And lately that decision hasn’t been so cut and dry. I’m trying to rediscover my passion for myself and living that healthy lifestyle. I know I need to give myself some time to recover from two very extreme and stressful years. But I also know that I want to live my life the way I want to live it. I don’t want to just survive. I want to live and I want to THRIVE. I want to be happy and feel in love with the things that I do.

I will get back to that place. I loved feeling so much healthier. Unfortunately, I’ve gained about 20-30 pounds since January. I don’t want this to be the direction I drift into once more. I want to take control like I once did, so enthusiastically and with no looking back.

It’s been a while since I posted, so I wanted to update what’s been going on. It hasn’t been unicorn kisses and rainbows, but I’m finally in a place where I feel like things are going to be a LOT better. And they already are better. I just want to make sure I’m taking responsibility for my health and don’t allow myself to get into that place of burn out ever again. I know now that I’m not cut out for it.

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