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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Too much give, without enough get

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Laura Mahaffy/lmahaffy@theunion.com | The Union

Many years ago, when I joined a service club for the first time, I recall one of the members warning me to be careful about taking on too much, lest I burn out. At the time, I could not even imagine what she was talking about.

How does one burn out from socializing in the name of community service?

Frankly, my membership in the service club was my social life. It took over 20 years but I can now see she had a valid point. Too much give, without enough get, leads to burnout. It is true in the workplace as well.



According to psychologytoday.com, “… burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion; cynicism and detachment; and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment.” Each of these stages comes with its own set of symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, loss of enjoyment, pessimism, detachment, feelings of apathy, increased irritability, etc.

After a while, you do see the same folks time and time again. Our community business owners generously donate to innumerable causes over and over.

These stages and symptoms occur from caring too much. I admittedly take pride in being an “over-achiever” but the psychology today article states, in part, “Because high-achievers are often so passionate about what they do, they tend to ignore the fact that they’re working exceptionally long hours, taking on exceedingly heavy workloads, and putting enormous pressure on themselves to excel …” which can cause burn out.




I used to call it the “east coast work ethic” because many of the people who felt and the way I did were also from the east. I thought it was the way we were brought up — to work hard and not complain. But now I see it all around me (insert your name here, if applicable) with coastal upbringing a non sequitur.

There are always a handful or more in any group that are the “doers” just as there are so many more (some refer to it as the 80/20 rule) who are happy to let the “doers” do, while they do as little as possible.

I worked for years in a place that let me slog as many hours as I possibly could, gladly, but (for the most part) without extra pay. Once the work day was through I (often along with co-workers) would show up at community events, staff booths, hand out candy, ring bells, bowl, walk, or run for a cause, emcee other fundraisers and attend community meetings always representing our place of employment with a happy heart.

We did it with pride for the organization we represented and we did it for the pure joy of helping others. But it took its toll — on time away from family and on our own well-being. And as is often the case, we scorned other co-workers who never or seldom joined us, who had the ability to say, “No thank you.”

At the time, I made them wrong for not going above and beyond the call, but now I have to say, at the very least, I admire their ability to set boundaries.

But I burnt out.

I have no one to blame but myself. I didn’t see it coming. I did not recognize the symptoms. And I probably would never have stopped but my body held a mutiny. I was forced to surrender.

There are many, many people I know personally who are doing more, and have been giving more of their time and resources for a much longer period of time than I have, for work and for play. I see one woman at virtually every function I attend, helping in some form. She appears tireless. I admire her. She is far from alone.

These days when I say yes, I do so gladly. This is not me complaining. I bring up the burn out factor as a matter of awareness for our personal health and well-being and a plea to those who do not give their time and energy to consider stepping-up to the plate, at least occasionally.

One of our county supervisors recently shared his observation that it’s the same small percentage of community members who support most major fundraisers.

After a while, you do see the same folks time and time again. Our community business owners generously donate to innumerable causes over and over. Go to any half dozen events held by various area nonprofits and you will see many of the same names of sponsors, many of the same faces volunteering and pretty much the same core group who support the cause by attending. And that’s great.

We need those people who say yes, but we also need the next generation to step forward. We need the new comers to join in. We need those who are most comfortable standing on the sidelines to get in the game.

People are quick to complain when an event is canceled or the duration shortened or a community service club is disbanded. But they aren’t stepping up.

It really does take all kinds of people to keep it all going. I encourage you to find the cause that brings you joy or concern. Be part of the solution by giving your time, energy or resources to the extent you are able. Sometimes that might be just the fan needed to keep the flame from burning out.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.


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