When being incapacitated seems like a more attractive option than having to go to work, and when the thought of work hangs like a sceptre at the back of your mind, it’s probably time to change something.
I have been trying to rationalise why I am so reluctant to leave, and how I got to the point where my sense of self and worth is so tied up with my job description. Particularly since it’s not something that I’m particularly proud of, that I enjoy, or that I would even respect in others. Why leaving feels like an admission of failure, and how I can justify staying, when I loathe it, and would encourage anybody else in this situation to leave.
Last week I did an intensive uni subject, and felt like a whole person, studying something. A person learning about something interesting and important, who had ideas, experiences, something to contribute, and things to be excited about. And I wonder where that changed, in the last few years. Why I went from feeling like somebody intelligent and interested, to this shell of a person, so completely dissatisfied and lost. I balance on this emotional knife edge, between this rage and complete despair, constantly ready to scream or cry. I slump against the toilet cubicle, staring at the corner of the door and wall, willing myself to pull myself together enough to last for the rest of the day. Walking out of the building feeling a physical release, which is too quickly tempered by the thought of going back the next day.
What am I scared of?
What I want, I think, is to go back to uni and study law full time. It’s just a jump, and it feels in some ways like a jump backwards. Is going back to uni an admission that I can’t hack work? I know that I can deal with far more and far worse than work. But this work is not me; and I am scared of what ‘people’ will think. I don’t know who these ‘people’ are, except that they’re nameless and faceless and really, don’t matter.
I need to work out what matters, because I am lost in this mess of wanting to be fulfilled and validated by work. It’s not what I want, or who I want to be, but it’s the way I have ordered my life and kept on track until this point. Part of me is scared of how I will cope, giving up a nice salary, and the rest of me is disgusted that this is even a factor. I don’t need to be able to spend thoughtlessly like I have been. I don’t even want to.
I read this post by Lisa Dempster tonight, and felt so heartened. This is exactly the way I have been feeling, and I need so desperately to escape it. I’d like to make volunteering a more central part of my life, and work part time and do something that I believe in. The public service has been a hideous shock to me. I can’t keep turning up to this job which is so draining and depressing, and continue to live in this twilight of ‘but.. this is what you wanted, you stupid girl’.
It’s time to move on.