Inertia

2. PHYSICS a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force

It is not customary for me to use this website for traditional, plainspoken journaling about the nuts and bolts of everyday life. Typically it is geared toward my creative output and the arts and culture influences that inform it.

But right now, I am going to break that custom and let loose with some real-real, LiveJournal-esque action. Though I don’t plan to make a habit of it.

If asked to name the one thing I am least proud of, it would be that my life has been largely dictated by inertia. I’d wager that people tend to forget about the part of the definition of inertia that deals with continuing to move uniformly forward in a straight line. But that is exactly what I have done, both personally and professionally, since the very beginning, often without a clear objective, simply to avoid forcing pain points, and due to the lack of any ideas to the contrary. Keep studying in this field because people say you’re good at it and you have no other ideas. Stay employed in this career because you were fortunate to stumble into it and you have no other (viable) ideas. Keep performing in this band and giving voice to other people’s sentiments rather than your own because they are kind enough to have you and you have no other ideas. Keep dating this person because even though you’re uncomfortable around them, they have a good heart and you have no other ideas.

Living at the mercy of inertia starts to wear on a person. You start to feel low-grade irritation often, particularly at other people who are also dictated to by inertia. You feel the urge to make drastic moves to blow everything apart and force radical change, the brazen impulse to distance yourself from those who are too much like yourself. You fantasize about getting out and leaving them in the dust. You become convinced there’s a physical turn-key to the whole situation that, if you were just clever enough to find it, dazzling new spaces would open up to you.

Of course, most of this is probably nonsense. But the fact that the train of thought is even running at all is worth paying attention to.

My professional field is one that involves considerable emotional labor and by extension high turnover, and I have been fascinated for some time by the various ways people end up getting out. The ways always seem to be one of about five things. Yet I keep staring at the range of options, thinking there has to be one that I missed (I don’t think there is).

What is certain is this: despite being in a better place than I have been in previously, I have not changed my behavior enough to produce a notably different result.

An old coworker of mine, after a decade of working for the necessary designations, relocating twice, and changing companies to stay in her field, recently quit her job with no job lined up. Outward signs indicate the cognitive dissonance she was feeling between the state of the world and the meaninglessness of her day-to-day tasks had reached an untenable level of absurdity, and because she could, she just – did.

As unpalatable and implausible as that risk might be to me, though, following her journey has made one thing imminently clear: this gal is the true definition of “Linked In”. Her move was not made in secretive silence, but with full disclosure on open platforms, before an engaged network. The reasons for the decision were made plain, and might even be described as in keeping with her personal brand.

Such a leap is less scary, less taboo, when a curated audience stands witness. And, dare I say that, in such a context, it also seems more likely to be the move that will signal the beginning of something more purposeful, deliberate, infused with meaning.

If I learn nothing else from my former coworker, I will at the very least come away with a renewed awareness of the importance of being one’s same self everywhere. I somehow grew up with the idea that my corporate office persona (relentlessly agreeable, impenetrable, and stoic) had to be light years removed from my private persona (edgy, awkward, sarcastic, creative, offbeat, non-maternal, half-masculine, and wearing a different theatrical wig for every day of the week). That all frailty and hardship was to be concealed, that all the stuttery thinking aloud and tripping into dogpiles that led to a final product had to stay behind the curtain and only the shining finished accomplishment should be held to the light. Now, I’m obviously not suggesting sharing every blessed thing with every blessed body – but there is a happy medium that some, including my former colleague, gracefully navigate, and it makes them influential actors in the world, lucrative vendors in the ole marketplace of ideas. And if I am going to figure out how to place a much-needed interference in my uniformly aimless forward trajectory, Baby, I’m going to have to put that Other Self out there – I mean really out there – in some way, shape, or form.

My failure to do so up till now has been nothing but avoidance. I mean, everyone knows the speaker in ~this song that has been a big effing deal to me since I was nine~ doesn’t really believe the stuff he’s saying… he’s just a big dumb coward.

https://youtu.be/JKlSVNxLB-A

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