I forgot to breathe

As many of you know, I take great joy in publishing my weekly articles. They are not only a release for my own thoughts, but they are a chance for me to try my best to share with you ideas that may help you navigate your own lives. I started this weekly ritual at the beginning of the year, and as the year rushes to an end, the growth I’ve seen in ZULUECHO Initiative because of this commitment I made has been truly remarkable. I’m not only speaking about statistics and views, but also in terms of feedback, outreach and the immense support that I receive from all my followers and audiences. It’s truly humbling when I receive messages that quote my articles, telling me that something I wrote helped somebody have a better day, overcome a challenge, see their life in a new perspective, or simply that what I wrote about resonated with them. These are the reasons I keep doing what I do with ZULUECHO Initiative – the fuel that keeps me going.

Last week something different happened, however. As you may have noticed, I did not post an article last Tuesday, and while I was intending to release it on Friday instead, that also did not happen. There are several reasons, but before I shared them with you, I needed to reflect on them myself. Truth be told, I have been challenged the last month, both for time, but also mentally. Feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by school work and unable to produce anything I was proud of, I was simply not able to publish an article. This truly frustrated me, as I had made a promise to myself, but also to you guys that I would be posting weekly. What I realized, was that my frustration came from a place that was not healthy – it came from a place of guilt. Guilt that I had let you down, but more importantly guilt that I had let myself down. The pressure to post an article every week had taken over the desire to post a meaningful article that could help us all. Had I shared an article that week it would have been out of routine, and not out of authenticity – something I did not want to do.

I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on last week. It was hard – for reasons beyond posting this article. Many doubts arose in my mind about many things in my life. Things that all have merit and that all hit me at once. I was over stressed, anxious, and under rested. A combination of emotions and feelings that only meant one thing. I needed to step back and breathe. The reason I’m saying all of this is because I learned a valuable lesson – a lesson I thought I knew. A lesson I thought I had learned, and maybe I had, but I had forgotten. I am human, and I simply can not always do everything. Sometimes, I need to just take a moment, and breathe. Taking a second to just mentally detach from what is holding my thoughts hostage is not a sign of weakness. It is not a defeat in the face of a challenge. On the contrary, it is a brief moment to regroup and re strategize. Things that make us stronger in the long run.

Over the weekend I was thinking about what topic I wanted to write about today. What I could have done was ignore what happened and write about something positive – something uplifting maybe even motivational, but doing that would have overlooked an extremely important element of self discovery and personal growth. It also would have made me a hypocrite, preaching about being motivated when in truth I was feeling down. I’ve spoken a lot about process, and the positive aspects of knowing that everything we go through is part of something bigger. That includes the tough moments. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again only this time, I’m saying it for myself. The effectiveness of a positive mindset comes not when things are going well, but rather when things are not going well. ZULUECHO Initiative has been a voice of positivity for many, but I am dedicated to showing that the path towards purpose is not always linear. There are bumps, there are challenges, there is always a downside. How we react to them is what defines our character and helps us in the long run. Following a passion or a dream, creating the opportunities we want for ourselves is what ZULUECHO Initiative stands for, but with that has to come an acknowledgement that to attain those things we have to be open to “failure”. We have to be open to learning from our worst moments and teaching ourselves how to bounce back.

Before the pressure of posting every week, I want to emphasize for myself and for you all, that this movement is about transparency of process. It’s about a collective growth that can only happen when we support one another through the ups, and the downs that come with life. To ignore that hardship is to deceive ourselves into thinking we are “successful” without teaching ourselves to get back up when we fall. Last week I fell, and I fell hard. For the first time in a long time I felt defeated. I needed to breathe, and that’s why I did not write. This week I share with you this article in the hopes that I can remind you that it is okay to fall off the radar for a bit to regroup. It is okay to take time to find yourself again. The moment you stop being yourself is the moment you stop having the impact you want to have. Being authentic comes first, before everything else – and one can not be authentic if they ignore the emotions and feelings that inherently make them their own.

It’s not easy to speak about this topic as it is quite personal, but I do so with the desire to remove the stigma behind feeling “burnt-out”. Many people will say that “burn-out” is not real if you are passionate about what you do, and in some ways I agree. The question becomes one of perspective and scale. If you love what you do and acknowledge the path you are on then it really is not “burn-out” but more so being out of fuel. We don’t stop to refill our tank. We don’t let our minds recover from a period of intense work and dedication towards our purpose. Without that brief moment to recollect ourselves, we do eventually “burn-out” but not because we are not passionate. Rather, we burn-out because we did not let ourselves breathe when we needed to.

I learned that last week, and I hope that my sharing of this experience will help you all take better care of yourselves. I learned last week that I forgot to breathe, please don’t do the same.

Please share this article with as many people as you can, so that we can collectively help one another remember the importance of taking a moment to breathe.

Believe in the power of your dreams…#zuluechoinitiative

One Comment Add yours

  1. Ms. B. says:

    I’m breathing! Today, I am breathing. Last week, I was only making believe I was breathing, and when I temporarily collapsed, I had to admit I was not able to help myself in the moment. And so it goes.

    Perhaps ZULU/ECHO could write a New Year’s post about what it means “to breathe.”


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