It’s a little over a week and a half into my “Life Reboot” – the term I’m using to represent my escape from cubicle hell in order to leap into the wild unknown and pursue That Which Is Meaningful To Me. As I write this, it’s Thursday morning about 9:30 and so far today I’ve fed my three cats, made coffee, filled the bird feeders and replenished the bird bath with fresh water, did my daily tarot, prepared a lovely breakfast for myself, and watched some “Daria.”
Almost every morning so far has been similar to this: slow going and leisurely, like a vacation. I wake up when I wake up and, for the most part, do whatever I want. Some days that means laying in bed and reading for a while. Some days that means getting dressed right away and Doing Things (let’s be real, there was like one or two days of that). Occasionally there is a phantom sense of don’t I have someplace to be? Most days it’s just me sitting around in my pajamas until noon, reading, internetting, and hanging with my cats, interspersed with minor chores like tending the bird feeders or doing a load of laundry.
More than anything I desperately want to unwind, to unravel myself from the energy of my former job, my former reality. After almost 14 years of working in a productivity-driven environment, I’m realizing just how pervasive this conditioning has become. In my former job we had productivity goals – hourly, daily, weekly, monthly. To be honest I never really gave a shit about my productivity because a) I always met my goals whether or not I really tried, and b) I don’t believe in measuring my worth based on someone else’s completely arbitrary and meaningless standard. Nevertheless, somewhere along the line I lost the ability to truly relax, to not feel as though I should be Doing Something, pushing against the current, busting my ass to PRODUCE.
Working in an environment like that for so long takes a toll on one’s spirit. While I outwardly touted a devil-may-care attitude about my productivity and work in general, there was no denying that I had begun to ascribe to this lifestyle whether I was conscious of it or not. It began years ago as silly everyday workplace stress, an uneasy joke amongst co-workers that we’d get “dinged” on our QAs (that stands for Quality Assessment, folks – I think? Actually I never cared enough to find out for sure) if our numbers weren’t up to snuff or if we were distracted or just bored out of our skulls and had a slow day, thereby earning the stigma of “Unworthy” and “Not Good Enough.” What I hadn’t really noticed was that over the years this concept that the basis of my worth depended on my ability to produce had begun to seep into non-work areas of my life. Soon it felt as though relaxing was no longer an option – at work OR at home – due to the persistent nagging in the back of my brain which had been conditioned for so many years to unrelentingly goad, “WORK.”
[Side note: shortly before I left on my last day at work I sent a mass email to my entire office that included an image which said, “You are worth so much more than your productivity.” To me it was a meaningful sentiment that perhaps some had never even considered before, and I wanted to leave those people with the knowledge that outside of that place their worth has absolutely nothing to do with the number of accounts they work in an hour or how many sick days they take (gotta do yr self-care, y’all) or how good their attitude is when management decides to move them from one team to another, as though they were nothing but a piece of furniture (ahem). My own supervisor didn’t even say goodbye to me on my last day but thanks to that email I received replies of support and camaraderie from people I didn’t even know, people I hoped read that and realized, Whoa. I AM worth more. In the last moments of my job I felt more love than I ever had in all my years there.]
What I’m currently struggling with (struggling may be too strong a word – grappling?) is letting go of these lingering after-effects, the residue of a productivity-driven existence, combined with a sense of being in limbo between one life and another. In true productivity-driven form, my brain is telling me to jump right into the Next Thing, get out there and get what’s mine before someone else gets it. There is this conditioning to not only produce, but to consume that is really hard to shake. I’ve never really looked at life that way, at least not through my own untainted lens. But when you live for so long under the umbrella of a corporation whose core values don’t align with your own, you sort of begin to see it their way whether you really want to or not.
In our culture we generally don’t do well with feeling uncomfortable. We seek quick solutions and easy answers to avoid dealing with what truly plagues us. That said, I am fully aware that the only thing I can really do is sit with this feeling and allow this limbo state to BE until it isn’t. One way to overcome this productivity-driven mentality is to become more mindful and present, and what better way to be mindful and present with my own discomfort than to invite it in for a beer and, you know, just hang out with it instead of trying to push through it as quickly as I can and get back to work. Quite frankly, I don’t even know exactly what “work” means for me right now. I’d love to let go of that concept altogether, for the word “work” implies forced effort and unpleasant drudgery. I prepared for this financially – which took years, mind you – so I’m in a position where I don’t need to get another job right away and instead can savor this time as I find my groove. For this I am grateful as fuck and I have absolute trust that it will all become clear. Until then I will continue to chill with my discomfort and craft a vision of my ideal life so I can blaze the path that will get me there.
This is the beginning; the Dawning of a New Day*.
Today is the new moon – a new moon in Cancer (a water sign, as it were). With that in mind I’m publicly declaring my intentions for this lunar cycle: to flow. Or, more accurately, to remember how to flow. To be kinder and gentler with myself as I, like a river, change course from one life to another. It will be a deep dive into my subconscious from which I will resurface refreshed and cleansed, with the remembrance of an existence which ebbs and flows, which waxes and wanes, just like the tide, just like the moon.
(*Sorry, had to.)