Week 14 – Contradictions

Date: 03th July 2020
Weeks spent in isolation: 15
Weeks unemployed: 13
Days spent looking for a job: none

Open or ClosedThis is where I start to panic. It’s been 3 months since I was last employed. I should have some answers now as to what I want to do next. But I feel no closer to anything. No closer to being ready to start looking for my next job. No closer to knowing how different my next career should be. But I’m starting to feel the urge to stop what I feel is being a lazy bum at home.

I want to ease the guilt of not being employed. I should be contributing to society, earning money, not living off a redundancy payment. This thought is circling in my head many times a day now. At the same time I don’t want to commit to any paid work that would tie me down and take away any of the freedom I currently have to choose when and what I do each day. Yes, I am full of contradictions.

I was visiting my parents last week and on the second day there, my mum took me through her collection of heels. She doesn’t feel she can wear them anymore so she was asking if I’d be interested in taking them off her. I was putting on the first pair, plain dark brown mid-heels, when she mentioned she had a pencil skirt that matched the second pair I was looking at. Stunning high-heeled pointed toe sandals in sapphire blue. I was tying up the laces on them when she came back with the skirt. I put it on and suddenly felt like I was suited up for work. And it felt unexpectedly good. I had not worn any kind of heels for the past 3 months, barely any shoes. Or any tight fitting clothes. In that instant though, I felt great. I wanted to keep walking up and down the living room in them, pretending to be going to meetings. I resented having to take them off and go back into my shorts and espadrilles. It was so unexpected. I thought I was happy leaving the corporate life behind. I guess at the very least, I don’t miss the uniform that goes with that life. 

And it’s made me want to go back to work. For the uniform. For the people. The daily interactions. The achievements. The getting out of the house in the morning, to enjoy coming back in the evening. I hear about people I used to work with through my partner, who still works there. And strangely, I miss them. Hearing about them but not being able to chip in on work matters with them makes moving on from that company harder than I thought. It makes being unemployed harder. But I’m still not looking for a job. I don’t want to. Yet. Although I’m starting to get anxious about my situation.

Some of this anxiety is brought on by the slow return to normal we’re experiencing, that I referred to in week 10. Some of it is simply looking at the time that’s just gone and how little I feel I’ve achieved. I’m caught once again in the ‘all the free time’ fallacy. I know this is the ‘you’re not good enough’ voice in my head talking right now, dismissing everything I’ve done so far. Because none of it seems to be bringing me closer to paid work. I’m trying to explore what brings me joy, regardless of whether it takes me down a path that will allow me to earn a living. It’s a slow process sometimes, not only because we’re still in lockdown and there are limits to what you can do outside your house. It’s also because I don’t want to stress myself over it. I don’t want it to be a race. I don’t want to put so much pressure that I stop enjoying it and start worrying about whether I’ve done something meaningful each day. It should be about what makes me feel alive. Still in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that I need to do more. Until I find something that clicks and finally pays. In hard cold cash. I can’t help to feel the pressure to find what I could be making a career out of. It’s not screaming at me, but it’s there. Lurking in the dark corners of my mind. Watching and whispering.

I’m not sure how to quieten down the voice in my head telling me to be productive. At the same time, without it, I worry I’ll fall into the other extreme of doing nothing every day. Waking up late, browsing social media and watching TV all day. It would be so easy and so demoralising in a few weeks or months. I don’t want to exhaust myself working hard every day but I also don’t want to look back in 6 months and think this was all a waste of time. I want to have good times while doing meaningful work. I want to feel productive, without feeling drained. I guess I need balance?

One way I feel I can get this balance is by being more more intentional . I have some more spare time this week and next as I can’t go running or swimming. I would like to use that time to explore more, get myself out of my comfort zone more. I enjoy running, cycling and swimming so always end up giving these activities priority and consequently a big chunk of my time. I thought I needed these activities to feel better, to function properly. This week without them is showing me that it’s not true. It’s actually given me more energy for other things (although, yes, I’m overcompensating a bit with pilates and HIIT). Again, a question of balance. I’m not very good at balance. I want to get better at it. I need to get better at it. The aim these days is to finish my days not feeling frazzled and being able to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed. While having done a thing or two that I qualify as productive. You wouldn’t think it’s that hard, would you? You haven’t met me. I’m the queen of distraction. The master of procrastination. I’m aware of it, I guess it’s the first step to getting better? Where’s the ‘I’ll do it later’ rehab centre?

I’ve considered having a to-do list of these productive things, with the goal to tick one off each day. I know that I’ll want to rip that list apart on day 2 though. So instead I try to go with the flow of what I feel like doing that day. There’s usually something productive in there. I need to listen carefully and act quickly when the urge comes. And then have the appropriate guardrails in place so I can focus that attention long enough to finish what I start. Little by little. It needs adjusting every day but it’s improving. I mean, this post is published, isn’t it?

That was my something today.

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