On the Varieties of Fatigue


There are generally two kinds of working exhaustion.

The first is physical. This is common in occupations that require a lot of, well, physical exertion: manual labor, professional sports, vocational trades.

The second is mental. This is common in occupations that require a lot of intellectual exertion: academic work, brand management, market research.

I’m accustomed to mental exhaustion. There was a time in my corporate career when I had to digest twenty years’ worth of business reviews and marketing plans in a short span of time in order to excrete a very pithy summary of what made my brand tick. It was enjoyable work, but also quite taxing.

I’m not as accustomed to physical exhaustion, but I’ve had my fair share. In the massive sojourns I’d periodically undertake in my twenties’, I’d run myself ragged by wandering doggedly through a city on foot while lugging a DSLR half my size, or, by saving on long-haul flights by getting fares with ridiculously prolonged layovers (Law of Travel #212: The length of a layover is directly proportional to the ugliness of the airport.). And then there were my scouting days, my moutaineering days and my yoga teacher training days.

I am not accustomed, however, to mental and physical exhaustion occuring simultaneously—a phenomenon that happens with wearying regularity when you’re managing and teaching at a mind and body wellness studio. Let’s face it: you’re everything from the director and instructor to the receptionist and cleaner, which means that you do everything from creating strategy and managing finance (mental work) to cleaning mats and demonstrating headstands (physical work). And of course, you’re doing this seven days a week for, oh, just around twelve hours a day.

A lot of times when this happens, I’m too tired to notice that I’m tired.

Tonight is a rare exception. There’s just enough energy left to perceive the depletion of energy.

Which simply means: it’s a really, really, good thing that I happen to love this job.

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