Yesterday it occurred to me that I might have to quit my job. All week long, I'd been showing up to work feeling optimistic and perky, but by 3pm, I'd become a depressed mess with aches and pains of the body and heart. The days were dragging by. I had no energy to go to the gym. Yes, I know that would probably have been the best thing for me, but if you'd told me that in one of these moments, I'd have found some reason to get really upset with you for suggesting such an obvious and inapplicable solution for my deep, dark problems. I should have been happily busy with plenty of stuff to take my mind off my bad mood; instead every task felt like torture. I discovered the office version of waiting for water to boil: waiting for your document to print. Usually I am able to multitask and get lots of things done, then walk over to the printer and find all my stuff ready to go. But this week, I found myself forgetful; if I didn't go right to the printer, I'd forget that I'd printed something until hours later. So I kept ending up at the printer before things were done and I had to stand there...Processing...Receiving Job...Processing...all the while fomenting moral and personal outrage about my horrible career choices.
I couldn't understand what was so different about this week. My job is far from perfect, and I've had plenty of so-so weeks...hell, MONTHS...that made me wonder if maybe, just maybe there's something better out there for me. I scan job postings, have my resume at the ready, and so on. But I think this is pretty normal for the average working stiff. We're all looking for meaning and fulfillment, but we're often forced to take day jobs that pay the bills and (if we're lucky) provide some modicum of satisfaction and/or a tolerable work environment. I also suspect that even the best jobs, "dream jobs" bring challenges, painful growth, learning, and, yes, boredom and burnout. (That's why, in my opinion, everyone needs a vacation, even if what you do is what you love.) My job, like most, sometimes feels like a dream, sometimes a nightmare... but most of the time, I can roll with the punches and enjoy the good parts and get myself to the gym and be happy with the world we live in and life in general (to quote Depeche Mode, in case you missed it).
Perhaps you are wondering by now, where the devil is this all going? Did I finally figure out what it was that made this week seem so much worse than all the rest? Well, gentle reader, you're on to something. This story does indeed have what we journalists like to call a "kicker." What was so different about this week that made me into Colonel Crank?
I was drinking decaf.
I guess that's not a true kicker, because I'm continuing the story. (If this weren't a blog I might polish this gem of an essay down a bit further toward Hemingway-esque perfection, but Hemingway got a) paid and b) published, so here goes...)
Yes, I recognized the fog of caffeine withdrawal that had hazed over my sanity yesterday afternoon, just around the time I was getting ready to hurl the printer (and myself) out the window. So I poured myself some diluted green tea, treated myself to some coffee ice cream, took two ibuprofen, and got myself to the gym.
Well, maybe in the Hemingway version... In real life I didn't really go to the gym. Because I had an appointment to get to. But I felt good dammit, and I didn't have to quit my job.