I feel like a failure admitting this, but I don’t do well with unstructured time. It really helps me to have a place I’m supposed to be most of my waking hours, and a thing I’m supposed to be doing. Work. I really appreciate my job. It’s not demanding in a stressful way. But it demands enough of me to keep me sane. Ish.
I was reminded of this over the weekend. By Monday, I was going a little insane. A three-day weekend is supposed to be awesome. I’m supposed to love all this leisure time. But I didn’t love it. I think I really needed it. I think I needed to be inside and alone with no super pressing deadlines or commitments. I think I was really tired and it was good for me. But by Monday I was starting to wonder whether I was depressed. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. I felt exhausted all weekend. I slept like a depressed person. I watched Netflix alone and ate a lot. I didn’t want to go to work today, either. But part of me knew it would help me. Part of me was grateful the weekend was over and I could get back to my routine. I find this so odd, this struggle between wanting freedom and leisure and also needing structure.
I think it’s stupid, me going to an office. It’s totally unnecessary. An office just seems so wasteful and inefficient when we all have phones and internet at home. It seems so anachronistic to commute into an office. And I’d love to live somewhere besides Arlington. But, I’ve started to like Arlington. I’ve begun to appreciate its cleanliness and brightness and newness. And the truth is I like going into work. I love my work friends. I love my work BFF and my work good, close friends, and my work acquaintances. I like waving at people and getting lunch. I love my standing desk.
I don’t want to love those things. I like to think that without this crazy preference of my bosses for me to come in every day I’d hang out with other friends and collaborate with other workers and still get up at the same time every day and still stop working at the same time every day and still take showers regularly (ish). I’d do yoga and be artsy. But I wouldn’t. Or, maybe I would. But the risk of spiraling downward into a long Memorial Day weekend is way too great to see for myself.
Sometimes it’s wonderful to realize that I’m not getting depressed. I’m not sick. I just needed a rest, and now I’m ready to get back to work. Sometimes I need to remember that a few days in bed isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure or going off the rails. It’s okay. It’s okay to need rest and it’s okay to need work.
Sometimes I wonder if I should’t be slaving away at a journalism job. I feel conflicted about writing about software for a living. I don’t think I should feel conflicted, but I do. Because there is something heroic about journalism. I admire many journalists, like Robert Draper, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Jillian Keenan. I love the idea of making a name for myself. But I hate the model. And I hate the day-to-day.
Then I think about people who are making a difference. Policy analysts, like Will Wilkinson, and now my boif Sam, who’s doing welfare policy for Niskanen. Why not dedicate my life to supporting them? But I don’t want to market other people’s ideas. And I’m not smart enough to do policy on my own.
I am very grateful for my job doing content marketing. And I do think I’m doing the right thing. I’m part of the market. I’m doing free exchange facilitated by the price system. I’m making the good I’d otherwise want to sell people on. And I’m participating in what will and should replace content-for-ad journalism. I am challenged but well-compensated. I am treated very well. I am surrounded by pleasant, smart people. But that doesn’t mean I’m not conflicted.
I am grateful, but not sure. I am not actively questioning, but I’m not unaware of the tradeoffs.
I think, for me, that’s as good as it gets. And I think that’s okay too.
Thanks for your honesty, Cathy. So often on the Internet, people act like their lives are perfect and they tend to hide the questions and doubts that we all carry (I do this, too). It’s really important for me to see someone being open about this sort of thing. I also left journalism and feel conflicted about it often, but I try to sit with my uncertainties as you seem to be doing and not let them overpower me. We all make sacrifices 🙂 But I just wanted to say thanks for airing this out in the open.
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