This is not what y’all want to hear.
You want to hear how to earn a million in the first year.
You want to tell The Man to shove it and piss off to Tahiti.
That happens for a few people here and there, and everyone loves to hear their stories.
For the rest of us, sometimes wresting control back means not a whole lot changes, other than how you look at a thing.
Which sounds like self-brainwashing, something sinister, even… a surrender to the status quo, a double dose of the Soma.
But… what if changing your framing really makes you feel better? Not in a deluded way, but a way that gives you the energy to do and try more things? What if obsessing over how you’re too good for a certain place or a certain job, obsessing over how you’re stuck, dammit, and you’ve GOT TO GET OUT RIGHT NOW, was leading to nothing but more obsessing and being stuck?
(Note: If you’re in a truly abusive job, or if what I have said so far has completely turned your stomach, by all means peace out and do what is healthy and right for you. I have never tried to speak for everyone. This is for people in a certain Middle Place – the place I’ve been hanging out for a while now.)
I was watching something on YouTube and it was the kind of thing that embarrasses you when it rings true, but… it kinda did. It made me realize that I am very much making a choice to stay in my job. I could try to stock shelves, work a register, or wait tables (for the first time in my odd little life), go back to selling insurance, toss sanity and give freelancing a go, start selling off my own possessions on Marketplace, get almost-free stuff and try to sell it at a markup, start building a writing portfolio by cranking vapid stuff out for pennies on Upwork… I could even quit with nothing lined up and I’d PROBABLY, somehow, be OK. BUT I CHOOSE NOT TO. I choose not to because I have no well-defined lucrative ideas and that horrifies me, because I like my lifestyle (which is modest but still a bit charmed), and because I like to work on my art without being worried about monetizing it.
There would be consequences to my quitting, no doubt, but no one is really stopping me from doing it.
When I recognized that, something instantly felt different.
Then I considered what it is about my job that causes the outright dread. I like the people I work with, including my management, and that right there starkly differentiates me from a lot of folks who desperately want (or need) out of their jobs. Also, I truly can’t say I am underpaid for the work I do, which in itself sets me apart from a crap ton of call center reps. So what is it?
It’s most likely the fear of looking stupid. It’s my EGO.
I get put on the spot a lot by people of widely varied walks of life. It is my responsibility to know or find correct answers for them under time pressure. Things get awkward when it’s someone younger than me who is insufficiently trained and cradling an audible baby while trying to work from home, or when it’s someone much older and more seasoned who is annoyed at themselves that they couldn’t find an answer and I could.
Understandably, as an introvert, anticipation of these strange dynamics gives me performance anxiety EVERY MORNING. But, then, I also read something a bit novel about performance anxiety recently: one way to combat it is focusing on BEING OF SERVICE. Don’t focus on how you look and what they are thinking of you, but rather what they need and if/how you can provide it. This sounds too easy or schmaltzy or something, and no, it has not been a 100% insta-fix. Nevertheless – at least so far – it has taken some of the edge off, and restored some of the serotonin.
Then there’s the fact that, though I work within very real and fairly limiting parameters, my situation cannot be called draconian. Obviously I must maintain a certain percentage of phone availability, but as a lead, some amount of time out of the queue to deal with other things is very much absorbable. In addition to the main attraction – that being the staggering convenience of (now) working from home permanently – I also have mandatory breaks and a lunch, during any of which I can take a catnap, go for a walk, listen to local college radio, mess around with a recording, cook my own food, do laundry, whatever. There is also the luxury of never needing to be seen, which is kinda priceless for someone with autoimmune conditions who has been known to go to peculiar lengths to be comfortable.
So yes, there is considerable freedom within the confinement.
See, I lost a bunch more of you there… and that is OK.
Anyhow, kiddies, my point is this. Sometimes you find you actually have more control than you thought you did. You might also find that focusing on that makes you less tired, and that when you’re less tired, you are able to do more cool things, whilst also not hating everything.
The title of this entry is a phrase uttered by the Black Rabbit in Watership Down, the movie of which gave eight (?) year-old me a fear of seeing roadkill for the better part of a year. The quote appears to have originated with the German rationalist philosopher Gottfried Leibniz, and in my opinion it is also a gross oversimplification. But, in this context, I think it works.