Warning: much navel-gazing too follow.
I am at a party with friends, many of whom I worked with at my old job. The usual greetings: “How are you?” they ask. I reply, “Alive.” I tell them I am decompressing from a rough week / month / year / decade of work. They nod, “Yup, sounds like you’re doing the same, then.”
Whether it’s the current high-stress job, the previous high-stress job, or perhaps any job at all, I feel I won’t be happy. While there are real problems both at old company and at new, the truth is I may not be suited to work. The concept of employment. Taking on the role which is imparted by a career, seeping into every fiber of my day and being. I don’t work as a ___, I am a ____.
I think: is it employment or me? Am I just depressed? But my mood improves during the weekend. And I remember, in the lazy summers of youth, having nothing I had to do, I was often my best, most productive self.
I worry, everywhere you go, there you are. But then is the right thing for me to turn off these feelings, or is there virtue in preserving that part of my identity which cares about aligning my labor and my ethics, being skeptical and challenging of authority, all those bits of me that are making it very, very hard to be happy with work? Is there virtue in the struggle? (No.)
What if I went self-employed? But then I start from zero. And the times you have the least leverage to choose what you want is when starting from zero. Also the grind, I do not romanticize it. Starting a business is damn hard work.
So where does that leave me? Here, in my friend’s living room, with people that I enjoy, that make me laugh, that I make laugh too. The communal pizza is droopy and stale, the way good party pizza should be. The lights are dim and furniture mismatched and we’re all figuring out what it means to be ourselves as we emerge from that time of our lives where “finding oneself” is still an acceptable vocation. There’s tumult and stress and the cloud of responsibility just on the horizon, but I can’t see them beyond the popcorn textured ceiling. I am distracted– by friendship, by a moment of simple joy. I am okay. Anywhere I go from here, I will continue to be: okay.