Every so often, I read a book that I cannot stop talking about. Burnout is one of those books – I finished it yesterday but I have literally been bringing it up in conversation with everyone I speak to.
There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that it’s beautifully written – a seamless melding of scientific references and storytelling, with some pop culture thrown in for flavour. The second is that it is so immediately helpful and practical! Seriously. The stress response cycle chapter alone blew my mind.
Here’s a podcast where Brene Brown interviews the authors, Emily and Amelia Nagoski, about it. It’s genius!
Rest and body image and self-talk and and and
They also write about how essential rest is – sleep, yes (a big yes for me!) but also rest. Active rest, like gardening or crafting or cooking if that’s your thing, and peaceful rest. I think we are all so chronically under-rested that this really resonated with me.
And then there’s a chapter about body image and weight, which blew my mind. I had never considered before that being an average weight gives me a privilege very similar to white privilege or middle-class privilege. But it does!
And there’s a whole section on negative self-talk, and how when we stop whipping ourselves mentally, the wounds hurt in a different way… The wounds of growth.
Seriously, I could go on and on! Just buy the book and read it. You won’t regret it.
Let’s talk about the patriarchy
What I want to talk about, though – unusually for me – is the patriarchy. To be honest, I didn’t think I had much experience with the patriarchy before I read this book. I grew up with three older brothers and I am not afraid to speak my mind and be heard. I haven’t been diminished in the workspace because I’m a woman. I haven’t been sexually assaulted. Perhaps the fact that I am even writing these sentences shows how deeply ingrained the patriarchy is – look guys! I’m so lucky! Nobody has ever tried to assault me! Ugh.
And that’s really the point of their analysis of the patriarchy – that it’s so deeply part of our culture we don’t even notice. Last week my son came home early from school, with either a bad heat rash or German measles, we didn’t know. So I cancelled my 2pm meeting and took him to the doctor. It didn’t even cross my mind that my husband would cancel his 2pm meeting and take him. Our default mode at home is that I cook weekdays, he cooks weekends – even though we both work and earn the same. My work took a sideline for a few years when we had babies… Of course.
And much of this, of course, is because I chose it. I actually have an amazingly enlightened husband who really pulls his weight – and is happy to do more when I point out that we’ve slipped back into a rhythm that is unbalanced. But the fact that we keep slipping back into this rhythm is what struck me while I was reading Burnout.
I also realised that the reason I haven’t had many patriarchal experiences at work is because I’ve only ever had two real jobs, both of which were almost entirely female teams (the magazine industry in South Africa has always been very female).
I could go on and on about this stuff – it is so rare and wonderful to read a book that sparks so many new thoughts and makes me see so many new perspectives.
Read Burnout! And then let’s chat about it.