JKG | jkgphotography.co.uk
Location: Tooting, London
For as long as I can remember my drive for success has been pretty insane. I'm not one to quit and I try my very hardest to put my best into everything. At school, I excelled in all the subjects I had a great interest in (we won't discuss Maths, PE or Science) and although I was never that academic, I really did believe in myself and my abilities to do anything and be anything. Maybe its the child in me - but I still dream big now and constantly think about how I can achieve all the goals I have set.
Before I landed my care job at 23 (I used to work in a residential children's home) and my Youtube channel gained some momentum - I worked in an office. To cut a long story short - I absolutely hated it. In fact I fucking despised it. It made me terribly unhappy and unwell and made me even more depressed than I already was. I grew up believing my body wasn't good enough and if I'm completely honest, that job made me loathe myself even more. I slipped into a dark place that thankfully I eventually came out of - but during that time I lost all motivation and inspiration for not only building a career,
but also building a life!
However, my care job gave me a new lease of life - a purpose shall we say? And with a new hobby that I absolutely loved, that involved making videos in my bedroom and then uploading them to the internet - I had become driven again. Early mornings and late nights were easy and balancing work and my social life was a doddle.
Grace was back and she was ready to take on the world.
But not only did I become extremely driven, I was also in overdrive a lot of the time. Working hard is yes, very bloody important (idle laziness is not the one), but is there such a thing as being overworked? Indeed there is. I was working 11 hr - 24 hr shifts, with children who had emotional, behavioural problems who would at times, physically and mentally drain me. Alongside such a demanding job, I was making Youtube videos, attending meetings/events and desperately trying to be my version of a 'girl boss'. It was of course exhausting, but I was having such a rewarding time with both my day job and side hustle, I ignored the stress and occasional anxiety. I buried the signs of extreme tiredness with coffee and chocolate and I reminded myself that hard work takes sacrifice and if I wanted to succeed I needed to suck it up! This mentality has been stuck with me ever since.
I did in fact succeed. I quit my day job in December 2015 to embark on full-time blogging. The ride got longer and more intense, and the pressure was more full on than ever. At one point I was uploading 3x a week and posting on here everyday - it was ridiculous.
But last year during therapy I had a wake up call! I was missing sessions to edit videos or to attend meetings, and although I was drowning with the sheer weight of my workload - I refused to change. That was until my therapist spoke to me about boundaries and priorities and explained that mine were in the complete wrong order. It took me a real long time to understand this though, because my self worth was attached to my productivity. I didn't enjoy doing nothing because it made me feel like I would become stagnant and my career would be hindered. I glorified busy and would spend most days running around like a blue arse fly - I was manic. So undoing all that I had learned, as well as rewiring my brain took a while.
I'm still working on it now.
I have built my career from helping people so when I don't push myself in regards to work - I feel like I'm letting them and myself down. If you read my recent post on failure, you'd know that I pride myself on succeeding and doing the best I can so when I'm not doing that, I feel a little lost. During my most mentally erratic times, I would throw myself into work so that I kept busy - so busy I wouldn't even have time to pee, let alone think.
But doing all of this is actually unhealthy. Overworking yourself for the sake of a career is silly and irresponsible. Although I don't regret working so hard, I do regret missing out on 'me' time that I now value SO MUCH, as well as friends' birthdays and chances to see my family. I will put my hands up and say that I am (was) a workaholic and switching off is something I used to really struggle with.
However with a spout of ill physical health over the summer, I had no choice but to cancel important meetings and jobs, so that I could get better and y'know what? I realised very quickly that NOTHING is more important than my health - especially my mental health.
That your career will always be there if you work hard but also take the time to enjoy it. That sleep is just as important as being productive, and self care is the number one priority no matter what. That slowing down isn't a luxury but a necessity and sometimes saying no will benefit you more than saying yes. That if you're not careful, you will blink and miss incredible memories, for the sake of an exciting project. That you cannot do everything and time waits for no-one so enjoy every part of what life has to offer because work can always wait. (but you've got bills to pay so don't make it wait too long lol).