My name is Bailee and I am a recovering workaholic. My rock bottom was my final year in college; working three jobs at once while in school full time. The hours just kept adding up. An 8 hour work shift turned into a 16 hour work day, which snowballed into a 60 hour work week. My hours of sleep slipping away from me as quickly as my clocked hours piled up. I was unhappy, to say the least. My moods shifting from exhausted to angry to crying and back again. I was stuck in a cloud of hazy grays and reds just trying to finish a shift so that I could rest and do it all again the next day.
I was miserable but proud. Anyone who knew me knew I worked in order to pay for tuition and the exorbitant rent prices in Santa Barbara. But in reality, that was only part of the reason. I had become addicted to torturing myself. The pain of standing sixteen hours a day, skipping meals while rushing to my second job, and writing essays on lunch breaks only fueled my self pride. I lived in a fantasy that my continued suffering would lead me to some holy redemption, a better place in my future career and a step ahead of my peers.
But the truth was I was killing myself- I started to lose my ability to connect with others because of the resentment I felt toward them. I believed everyone had it easier than I did and if someone complained about their lives I was quick to jump in and one up them with my suffering. Their “inability” to understand me only strengthened my belief that I was doing something right and somehow getting ahead of the game.
My name is Bailee and I am a recovering workaholic. My never ending attempt to “get ahead” through self torture and lack of sleep has ended. I am living my best life and my job is the reason. I came to Kalu Yala as a student in the summer of 2017 and knew immediately that I wanted to stay. So I did.
Kalu Yala is a constant contradiction to my past self and has ushered me to a road of recovery- both of my soul and my passions. My work days start with sunrise peaking from behind jungle hills, the birds chirping above my hammock and the happiness that comes from waking up outside. “Work clothes” are now PJ’s from the night before paired with muddy rain boots and a loose bun of hair. No makeup. My morning commute is a three minute walk to Town Square, five if its raining and the roads are jammed. I always have weekends off. My passions and interests are topics of conversations with my management team and my coworkers lead me in meditation and yoga at the end of the day. I did not take this job for the money. In fact, I am getting paid less than when I was sixteen and got my first job as a lifeguard. My gut reaction to the pay was immediate anxiety. How could I live off of so little money? What about… I tried to fill in the blank. What about what? While working at Kalu Yala I am given three meals a day, a covered platform to sleep on and transportation into and out of the valley if I need it. In addition, I am given a community of authentic individuals who value mental health, community living and fostering a passionate work environment. I have come a long way from forcibly pushing out all of my coworkers and friends from my life.
Previously I had seen jobs as a way to make money and gain necessary skills for the work force. By working in high school and college I felt that I had experiences that would lead me to a “successful” life. I equated success with hard work and hard work with suffering. But this equation is only half true. Hard work is essential to becoming a better person and following your passions. But hard work does not need to mean self torture and poor mental/ physical health all in the name of a bigger savings account, better credit, or better job title.
Monetary compensation should not be the only value in a job. Working for a startup like Kalu Yala has taught me that “wearing many hats” can lead to the discovery of new passions and the development of skills that I did not have before. In just a few months in the jungle I have roasted coffee over biochar, written an article for the company blog, and TA’ed for the business program- all as the formal head of human resources. My job title has not put me in a box (literal cubicle or otherwise) where the only thing to gain is a paycheck. I am given the freedom of an intern, an ability to explore my passions and be an active member of the community.
I had always visualized success as a finish line, a place where I would be happy and living my best life; but that was far removed from my present state of self. Now, I see success as a process that I am incorporating into daily life; one that includes mental and physical health as part of the equation. In addition, it is no longer about a larger paycheck, overpriced rent, or expensive getaway vacations. I am living my day to day without the “modern” normalities of a car, a home, or even a bed. I have not purchased new clothes or shoes in months and I believe that living outside is the best mini vacation I have ever had. My hard work is geared toward a perpetual state of learning. I work for the experience and to discover and rediscover my passions. As a recovering workaholic in her twenties, I am happy to be poor, well rested, and constantly learning.