So my lizard brain is always fiddling with the following two thoughts:
One: I’ve heard the grass is always greener on the other side so I’d like to pole vault myself over there because 9-5s are the devil and feeling miserable in a 9-5 is the norm and you need to be self-employed or something.
Two: I’m a scaredy-cat loser that could never pole vault to self-employment and will die alone somewhere in a filing cabinet marked “9-5 Basic Bitch hahaha What a Loser.”
My life is 90% balancing that particular see-saw and 10% pointlessly opening the fridge.
Yin Yang Weeks
The last fortnight seems to have caffeinated my lizard brain and it’s moved from mere fiddling to full on topless gyrating in a thong against the pole of these thoughts (I’ve been trying to incorporate metaphor and imagery to make my writing more classy. Feedback in the comments please). You see I had a Really Quite Good Week at work followed by a Really Truly Dreadful Week at work. And the see-saw has been dancing.
Repetitive patterns of thought form knots in the brain. The more we don’t reflect on why we think the way we think, the tighter those knots get. Then you spend ages to figure out how that bit is… under this bit… so if you simultaneously pull on these bits… it’ll unravel. And you’re left with fingertip wounds. But here’s what I found:
String of thought 1: 9 to 5s are the devil’s butt
String of thought 2: But I kinda like my 9-5 job
String of thought 3: I want to live a creative life. My work saps my energy.
String of thought 4: I don’t need to quit my job to live a creative life.
String of thought 5: My job is a “good” job. Oh God I’m settling. I’m a coward.
These strings spend their days fornicating as I run around tending to my see-saw. And they are severely knotted which drives the see-saw wild. So I live my days on the border between contentment and self-loathing, which is a vulnerable place to be. It’s especially vulnerable when you constantly judge your quality of life by the quality of the week you’ve just had.
Let me tell you a little bit about my “devil’s butt” of a 9-5.
I work as a manager at a non-profit. I believe in the work the non-profit does and enjoy the company of the people I work with. It is a challenging role, but I was promoted to this position so have gained much both personally and professionally from it. And this isn’t to boast, it’s to add nuance to the whole “9-5 devil’s butt” thing because there is this tight little knot that says a 9-5 needs to be temporary until I start doing what I really want to do, because surely I have dreams right? Surely a 9-5 isn’t it riiight?
The reality is that a good day or a good week at work feels like my authentic self putting good into the world. What I do for a living becomes a conduit for me to impact the world in my own tiny way. Good days feels wild and golden. And not everyone in a 9-5 gets to say that. So they can’t be a devil’s butt… right?
On bad days, I question whether my choices are the right ones and if I should be doing something else with my time. Sometimes I don’t agree with the decisions being made around me. I lose autonomy, my deadlines are excessive and my planning goes out the window because someone else dropped the ball. I make progress and then things backslide because the third sector is a bit of a nightmare to gain any traction in. I don’t always get on with people. I feel incomplete. I feel small. The other facets to who I am feel muted. This is not me.
My passions are constantly dealing with the pressures of my expectations for them. They should be another way for me to return to my authentic self, but I constantly threaten to turn them into a source of income. It’s like I hold my hobbies at gunpoint like, “I’ve had a shit week, I’m gonna quit, you gotta sustain the household.” And my limited writing capabilities are suddenly expected to publish a bestselling novel.
I wonder if you ever do this.
The truth that hasn’t yet fully penetrated to the lizard brain is that the grass is actually always greener on the other side (picture me doing like… the most smug smile you’ve ever seen – and I’m wearing a monocle). Pole vaulting from one to another and you’ll perpetually flop about the place. Were I to turn my hobbies into income, I would still have those bad days where I question myself. Because bad days exist and suddenly craving a 9-5 because self-employment is a devil’s butt isn’t progress.
Realising why the brain knots came to be is only half the journey. I need to develop better coping mechanisms or I’ll just return to my finger wounds in a few months. And that’s just repetitive content for you and for me. Perhaps I will leave employment one day and my passions will sustain me… maybe I’ll get another job.. who knows. But I personally do not thrive under creative pressure.
I have been trying to develop a routine to allow myself time for all the things in life that help me feel like myself. Routine is reality. So a big way to cope was to create pathways for me to pursue my interests with the same intensity as if I expected them to sustain my livelihood, but none of the peril. Pursuing my interests sustains my personhood, and if we’ve learned anything so far, that’s where I’m most vulnerable.
A big shift in my thinking has actually been from work. I work in community education and one big thing I see is people having greater drive when pursuing interests as a group with a teacher or guide. I want to do a number of things: dance, sew, read more books, draw more, write more. All of these can be done in the comfort of one’s home but I tend to make excuses. I also don’t like being alone and bad at things. So I signed up for bellydancing classes, started going to a book club, found a boardgame night to muster the courage to go to and I’m looking for life drawing sessions. My hope is to stuff my calender with my interests and let life take it’s course.
As usual, I feel like my epiphanies are common knowledge and I’ve just been excluded from some newsletter that covered all this. But hopefully someone else missed the newsletter too. I see you. We are one.
Oh, join my mailing list! I have attempted to set it up so you get an email every time I post. I have no time to spam you.
Or read some recent posts that I am quite proud of:
- Can you have a small Desi wedding?7 min read about my inner turmoil with wedding planning as a British-born Pakistani. With funny well-written bits but no pictures.
- 9-5 gremlin or self-employed goddess? My brain is made of knots.6 min read on work/life balance. There’s a gyrating lizard.
- Life is relentless. Take regular breaks.A lil’ catch-up on how mad the last 8 months have been. Features poorly explained stoicism and a Brene Brown name drop.
- My senior cat’s daily routine (includes monster poos and dog beds)5 minutes of descriptive prose of my new cat’s first week with me.
- the Olympics is when I revel in my ignorance of all sports.800 words of confused Olympic joy.