When You Have Your Cake, But Can’t Eat It Too

The past couple of months, or years I should say, have been quite difficult for the entire global population. Navigating our new global reality has been an unprecedented and unforeseeable challenge for most of us. For some, their work lives saw drastic changes where they had to shift from an office setting to working from home. For others, the shift in their family and social lives were most evident. Two years since the start of the pandemic, I think it would be safe to say that no one’s lives are the same anymore.

This might sound naive, but I never expected myself to be affected by the weight of all these changes that were brought on by Covid-19. I always took great pride in my ability to endure challenges and the thick skin that I ultimately acquired because of this. Drastic changes in any aspect of my life have never been foreign to me. I have a strong support system and a solid way of coping with life’s curveball’s which have always allowed me to preemptively counter any sort of negative disruption in my life. However, one thing that I couldn’t foresee was the sheer exhaustion brought on from the apparent toll everything had slowly but surely taken on my body and mind.

I started this website close to three years ago. I started it because I felt that there was a need for content that was specifically focused on Somali women. I threw myself into sourcing news stories and pressuring relevant policymakers and actors to take a harsher stand against gender-based violence (GBV) in Somalia. The Haybad became everything to me. I pushed through the emotional turmoil that came with covering certain sensitive news topics, the frustration of navigating politics when lobbying for perceived good, and the disappointment that comes with not being heard at times, all whilst still trying to focus on my other responsibilities. I fought many invisible battles just to be able to produce content for this website. Despite all these personal challenges, I (surprisingly) still was very much okay. Or at least so I thought.

A couple of months ago, I experienced a type of fatigue and deep-rooted frustration that I am yet to properly classify. I’ve been on the brink of burnout before and always managed to catch on to the signs and take a couple of days off to rest and recuperate. This feeling, however, was all-consuming. I couldn’t shake it off. I am not too sure I actually have shaken it off even till now. My brain is exhausted, which is definitely a first. The organ I rely on most for my work simply refused to cooperate with me. There was no pushing through this time around, all I could simply do was allow my brain and body the rest I denied it for the past couple of years.

This break resulted in fewer posts, as I am the web Editor-in-Chief and main writer for most of the content posted on the site. A tired brain equals a tired website and tired social media accounts. The guilt that comes from seemingly neglecting something that is so dear to you, as this website is to me, is one that weighs heavy on the heart even as I type these words. I took great pride in making sure that the website had interesting content for all our readers, but 140something posts later and I found myself simply unable to do the one thing that I enjoyed the most over the past couple of years: to write.

The feeling of having your proverbial cake, but being unable to actually enjoy it is brutal. I keep telling myself that this exhaustion will pass, and God willing it will. But I also have to remind myself to be kinder to this body of mine that has helped me come this far. I have pushed myself for as long as I can remember and I am continuing to push myself despite my personal challenges. I take great pride in the work that I’ve done and the work that I will continue to do.

I do everything that I do for this website by my own free will. No one has specifically asked for this, so at times it does feel like the world’s most ungrateful job. But other times, I get to see the positive changes The Haybad has brought on, even if it’s just in my inner circles. Conversations surrounding GBV are no longer taboo, in networking, social or familial circles. It’s the little noticeably changes that still keep the fire burning within me.

This isn’t an explanation of my absence or lack of content but rather a very honest insight into my headspace with my readers. I take a lot of pride in creating a safe digital space for Somali women, so it would be somewhat disingenuous of me to not open up about things that might be uncomfortable for me to talk about but could be relatable for a Somali sister somewhere in the world.

Here’s to re-learning how to have my cake, and eat it too.

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