A Social Burnout – Deborah Tan

I think I’m at the risk of getting a social burnout.

Wait. It’s not what you think.

My social calendar isn’t filled with invitations to the most happening parties in Singapore.

Just. Leave. Me. Alone

But managing my appointments is threatening to drive me crazy! In July alone, I’ve double-booked (triple-booked!) myself on so many occasions, my sanity is hanging by a thread. I don’t get why I am so “disorganised” when it comes to meeting up with friends. Take this for instance:

I have – a long time ago – RSVPed to attend the wedding of a friend. That wedding is happening on July 21. It’s stored at the back of my mind. If you asked me, “So Debs, when is V’s wedding?”, I’d be able to tell you, “21st July.” But knowing what day it falls on is – as I’ve come to realise – very different from remembering that I’m already “booked” for that day.

So last night, another friend messaged me inviting me to his son’s 1st birthday party. It’s on the 21st of July. I looked at the message for a while and although a sense of, “Wait … what is happening that day?” hit me, I didn’t immediately recall that it’s V’s big day. So I told my friend that I’ll be there for the birthday.

Today, as I was busy hammering out a story, I spotted a red envelope sitting at the corner of my desk. BINGO! That’s why!

And so I ended up having to tell my friend that it was with great regret that I won’t be there to celebrate his little boy’s birthday.

This isn’t the ONLY incident this month.

Are you like me? Well, to really find out, read on:

Is Your Work-Life Balance In The Pits?
Obviously, I’m drowning in work. Whatever brain-space I’ve got here has been allocated to remembering deadlines, meetings, photoshoots, meetings, client lunches, meetings, interviews and, more meetings. I don’t even have the brain-space to remember whether I have turned off the air-conditioner when I left home this morning.

And since most of my Saturdays recently have been booked for photoshoots, the only thing I can remember when someone asks if I’m free on a weekend is, “Do I have a shoot that day?” Every day at the office, I’m doing a million and one things at the same time, trying to outdo an imaginary foe that I’ve created to “constantly challenge myself”.

Here I am thinking, “Debs, you are the shizzy!”. But the truth is spreading myself so thin is going to come back and bite me in the buttocks.

A study in 2010 found that judges who worked on fewer cases at a time were able to complete more cases per quarter and, they spent less time on each. While my productivity hasn’t suffered (not yet!), I’m turning into a robot. All I can see in my horizon is WORK. I have no space, time and energy for anyone outside of it.

I am less likely to screw up an appointment with a friend if he/she wants to see me on a weekday. Why? Cos my work calendar is better organised than my social one!


Do You Lose Your Temper Easily?
When I’m crazy-busy, the first thing to go is my patience. The only thing I want to hear when a PR calls me is, “ABC Event. 7pm. Tuesday. At Botanic Gardens. Come?” Of course no PR is ever going to bark details down the phone like that but sometimes I wish they did. Cut out the “Hi, is this a good time to call?” (why else would I be answering the phone?!?); “Did you receive this press kit I sent last week?” (I receive 50 of them every day, which one?!?); “Would you be able to send someone in your place?” (if I could, you would have known already).

With friends, it’s the same. I don’t want to be involved in any discussion regarding where to eat – just tell me what time and place and I’ll show up. I don’t want to be involved in any discussion about who is coming and who’s not – just tell me if I should come or not. But this is bad. Because I should care who is and isn’t going to be at our gathering. The reason why we are meeting up is to see each other so how can I not care? Instead, what I wanted was an easy way out to fulfill my obligations as a friend: I have made myself available, I’m here, I don’t care.


Do You Dread Confrontation?
Being short-tempered is one thing. But what I have come to notice whenever work consumes my life and sanity is that I don’t want to be engaged in any conversation, discussion and argument. That means, if someone’s unhappy with me, I will just ignore it and walk away. Or, if I want something done my way, and a colleague disagrees, I just want a resolution FAST. It’s either my way or her way – again, I don’t care as long as I don’t have to sit down and discuss my thoughts and feelings.


Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with life and work that all you want to do is pass each day as uneventfully as possible? And if appointments and dates change at the last minute, you get angry?

Do you find that you just want to be left alone to complete whatever work you have on hand and, if anyone takes you away from it, you lose your temper?

Do you find yourself feeling helpless and frustrated whenever a loved one wants to “talk” about things? That you just want to block everyone out so you can “shut down” and get some rest?

If that’s the case, you could – like me – be on the verge of suffering from a social burnout. This weekend, perhaps it’s just best if you could simply stay at home, turn off the phone and computer (Just. Move. Away. From. Facebook), do a Twilight marathon and properly organise your calendars (both work and social) for August.

Good luck!

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