How To Get Off The Hamster Wheel

Member Content by Author: Kasey Spohn

Hey Koze Members! How do I get off the hamster wheel? 

I woke up this morning feeling tired, unmotivated, and a different type of depression as previously experienced. I had no thoughts running through my head, I was not hungry, and I had barely the energy to get out of bed to lay on the couch before inevitably falling back asleep. 

 I quit my full-time job that offered great benefits such as 9-5, holidays off, medical/dental/vision insurance, life insurance, and PTO providing company. I have not gone to work since I quit 11 days ago, and it has been a struggle to answer the question on everyone’s mind: What happened? 

Not that I have to explain myself, but the question has lingered in my mind for the last 2 weeks. The answer: Burnout. However, it’s not that simple. I was not just burned out on working the 9-5. I was burned out on all the other things that come with that lifestyle that I began to adapt. I had a tremendously overbooked calendar due to trying to meet the needs of others, meet my standard I set myself for how to treat others, and my incredibly high standards of the life I was suppose to live. 

I did it all. I went to college full-time and worked full-time until I graduated college 8 years later and then began the luxurious 9-5 lifestyle that came after the hard work. The thing everyone works so hard for, I had it. I was dating a man for 5 years, I had my Bachelor and 2 Associate degrees, I was looking at grad school, I was looking at buying a house, was able to live independently as a woman, and began entertaining future thoughts now that I had the financial freedom to begin exploring. I had evenings and weekends off, I was really helping people at my job, I began working out regularly (2-3x/week), and I learned a lot about different kinds of self-care that you can buy. I was doing all the things for the last 2 years, also during a pandemic.   

So… If things were so great, what happened? 

The question that has been floating around in my brain for the last 2 weeks, while mentally and physically paralyzing me. 

I literally Googled “How to get off the hamster wheel?” and I came across this post “THE HAMSTER WHEEL: 7 WAYS OUT OF EVERYDAY LIFE” (2020, Travel Dude) that sparked something in my mind that has been gone for the last 2 weeks, if not longer. “To get off the wheel requires effort, that often doesn’t want to be made. Then there are the ones that would like to break free and show the diligence, but they are too afraid. They want to stick to their safe job and see their income every month on their pay-check. They are afraid to fail. You can see, the reasons don’t matter. Fact is, that both kind of people will stay inside their Hamster Wheel, because it needs bravery and effort to break free.”

I learned that I don’t want to work Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5PM and only being off 2 days a week with the special being paid to not work federal holidays. For some people, this is the best lifestyle and is manageable, but not for me. Maybe if I had better coping skills, proactive self-care, and the self-esteem to pull it off I could have done it longer. 

This experience taught me that I want something less mentally straining for work, more time off, and eventually move out of the city because I have a lot of inner work that needs to be worked on that requires free-time to breathe fresh air, spend time in nature, or whatever else that I need to take care of my inner-child. 

I learned that it is possible to reconstruct my thoughts, provide myself with proper self-care, work to provide an income, and I will survive the long fall from suburbia. 

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Karina November 25 2021

I could not agree more; changing something that feels comfortable and safe definitely takes courage, bravery and effort. Sometimes what has been presented to the society as “right thing to do” (like working 9-5, have kids by certain age, obtain mortgage, etc.) can be so draining when one tries to get it all at the same time meanwhile pursuing personal goals and dreams. It definitely takes tremendous work to recognise what your values are and make changes in accordance to such, stepping away from socially-accepted norms if they don’t align with your inner voice at this time.
Thank you for sharing this, I enjoyed the read a lot.

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