I love my job; I adore writing. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m having fun. If anything, it shows me how much of my life is work.
I arrived at my therapist’s office earlier this year in a state of complete burnout. My adrenals weren’t producing sufficient cortisol to get me through the day, inflammation was rampant throughout my body, and my immune system had given up.
As a writer who specializes in recovery and wellness, I couldn’t understand how this had happened to me. I worked out four days a week and ate well. I had also uprooted my life and moved to America, where I’d been working seven days a week for a year. My body had kept score. It was telling me it was time to rest, work through some stuff, and recalibrate. In many ways, this process mirrored the process of recovery.
Six months ago, my therapist asked me if I knew how to have fun. Perplexed, I looked at her and wondered why she asked what appeared to be such a daft question. Of course I do, I rather flippantly replied. She asked me to expand upon my answer. I began to explain all the ways I have fun in my life, while simultaneously experiencing one of those moments where I recognized that the words coming out of my mouth were somehow communicating a distorted perception of reality.
I love my job; I adore writing. I beamed. I also love interacting with others: digging into the heart of what makes people tick and how things work, challenging perspectives, and feeling like I’m contributing to the recovery community. I really enjoy yin yoga and exercising too, I tagged on to the end of my explanation, as if to somehow bolster my argument that of course I know how to have fun.
I realized that few of these examples equate to fun. Instead, they provide a sense of fulfillment from my writing and my interactions with others. I may enjoy my job, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m having fun. If anything, it shows me how much of my life is work.
Writing is such a complex process that elicits a range of feelings and emotions, from great joy to intense, cathartic pain. While writing has remained an enjoyable activity (most of the time), I have made it my career. Forcing a creative process to adhere to deadlines and other people’s requirements takes away a large chunk of joy and places it firmly in the realm of work, not play. And I used yoga and exercise more as activities of self-care that gave me a sense of relief rather than joy.
I left therapy that day pondering the concept of fun, my understanding of it, what it looked like to me, and what real examples I could muster up. To be completely honest, it was really challenging. First, I had to consider what fun means to me.
When I think of fun, I think of laughter, joy, pleasure and excitement. Breaking that down, I also realized that excitement is something I have also mistaken for fun. I felt excitement when I used drugs, because my life was so unfulfilling and lacking any sense of joy.
Given my history, I realized I associated excitement with the danger of taking drugs…
Find out how Olivia found out which activities gave her a sense of enjoyment in life in the original article You Got Sober, but Are You Having Fun? at The Fix.