The Mental Sabbatical


The Mental Sabbatical

The journey of finding oneself…

It’s often the case when you leave a job that you tell people you’re moving onto a new position, going back to school, or some sort of activity. It’s less often that you tell them that you’re moving on to nothing. For some reason people can’t seem to wrap their brain around that idea. Well, that’s kinda what I’m doing. Weird, I know, but here is why…

Hi! I’m Niles, 25, and completely unsure of what I want to do when I grow up. I’ve spent the last couple years working with a great crew of people in a career that I thought I loved. Things have been going pretty well for me. Or at least, that’s what I’ve been trying to tell myself.

In reality, I’ve kind of just been going through the motions. Trying to ignore the negatives. Due to life events I won’t detail here, I’ve spent the last few years kind of beside myself with dispassion. I’ve dealt with some pretty crippling anxiety. Going out to find friends has been hard for me, mostly from a lack of interest; finding motivation to do what I used to enjoy is daunting; working out seems self defeating; and relationships with people has felt like work. Now I’m not looking for pity or attention. In fact, I’m not even sure why I’m writing this. Maybe it’s because people asked me to document my very weird life. But I want to make clear it’s taken me a long time to face myself in the mirror on these facts, and come to terms that I need to step back and fix a lot of things going on with myself.

Society kind of tells us we need to work hard and keep grinding up to success. I’ve never truly agreed with that philosophy, because really the game is rigged, but I understand it. I’ve always found myself in this place of “what do you want to do in life?” My answer mostly precipitates into, “I don’t know. I know things. I’m good at things, but not great. Not to me.”

So where does that leave me? I’m not sad, not completely happy either. I’m kind of just — average. It’s like putting yourself in a state of emotional neutral and watching yourself coast down a hill. Bystanders kind of just assume you have control or otherwise unaware of the situation entirely. At some point on the slope your mind has to kind of wake up and say “maybe you should hit the brake.” People react to this situation differently, but I find myself listening to that little voice in the back of my head. It typically has the right idea. Figuratively I’ve hit the brake, now what? Well... I guess that’s what I have to figure out.

I kind of started an idea out of a joke from not knowing how to tell people I was hitting the reset button on everything. I called it the Mental Sabbatical. After a quick Google search, I now realize I’m not the first person to use the phrase - there goes my copyright. It was my lazy way out of explaining to people over and over that I was leaving my job pretty much without a reason, other than my own mental disquietude. However, I’ve kind of grown on the term. It sums up kind of exactly what I need right now. My mind needs a break. It needs time to reset itself clear of distractions, reflect, and ultimately some time to just figure out what it wants to do. (This is getting meta because I’m describing my brain, written by me, that is my brain.)

In my head the Mental Sabbatical is this weird concept of taking time away from the social script that’s expected. Doing something or taking time to truly focus on yourself. Finding whatever it is that gets you closer to what makes you happy and out of the routine. This is something I think everybody talks about and probably knows it’s a good idea, but that in itself is a social script. More often than not, we continue on with whatever it is we are doing until the next set of things to do.

Though, I think the idea doesn’t have to be as extreme as what I’m doing. People don’t have to stop their life cold turkey to focus on themselves. I’m doing it because I feel like it’s what I need right now. Everyone’s at a different point and place in their life. With different support lines and people they may lean on. You can easily take the time to reflect on yourself, but it’s the doing part that’s important.

I also think it’s a lot simpler than I’m making it out to be of course. I tend to get poetic when deep in thought. If I were to make a TL;DR version of this blog, I’d say “Figure out what makes you happy. If you don’t know, take the time to figure it out.” I’m not wise for suggesting this notion. If anything, I’m fortunate. I’m lucky to be in a position I can step away to take the needed time, when many cannot. At the cost of sounding a little egocentric, I’d say I’m probably a little brave too (or nuts) for doing something most wouldn’t. Takes a leap of faith to derail a train.

I don’t know how long this sabbatical or journey of mine is going to last. I don’t know how long I plan on writing about it. I do know that I’m going to figure some things out about myself. By the end, I hope to conclude with exactly it is I want to do going forward. Find my game plan. Then maybe I’ll write about that.

I’ve never promoted myself as much of a writer, but if you’ve made it this far I do appreciate you taking your time to read a little into my mind for a bit. Like I said, I don’t know where this is going to lead. But if you want to follow along with my little journey sign up below to get notified for my next writing and share this blog on social media to spread this concept.

I look forward to what the future holds for me and I’d be interested to see if others will go along with me for this #MentalSabbatical of mine. Who knows where I might end up. Thanks again for reading.