neurosis yo-yo

There remains a constant yo-yoing neurosis in the realm of work, career, the infuriating need to make money.

On the one hand there is building this business thing of my own. There are flickers and hints that it could work. It is not yet an almighty disaster. These things take time, they say. I have put in some hard graft and continue to do so. Small wins, babysteps and all that.

But even if it does develop and grow, and I am as modestly happy as I allow myself to be, there is likely to always be a sense of the uncertain and unpredictable, a definite lack of security. I will always worry.

On the other hand, still there remains the idea of a ‘real job’. Drawn by attractive ‘grown-up’ salary numbers, I still spuriously apply for ‘real jobs’ and sometimes people reply, seeking more information, occasionally inviting me for interviews. Do I really want any of these real jobs? All the office stuff, spirit-crushing corporate guff and nonsense, all the ego and swagger and testosterone and idiots? Only if the job is genuinely really interesting, if it can engage me day-to-day and not regularly make me want to throw myself out of the window. Then perhaps. But even then, maybe not.

Which isn’t to say I could get close to such a job anyway. My CV and career is patchy. My competitors for such jobs would likely have bigger, more recognisable names in their CV, more sustained periods reflecting greater commitment, letters after their name demonstrating extra training and qualifications and rubberstamped commitment to their vocation. Alongside them, I’m sketchy, a gamble.

This latter real job option is chained to a slightly old fashioned, almost caveman-like sense of duty; a feeling that as Man Who Is Getting Married Soon And May Feasibly Reproduce In The Coming Years ‘I must provide as much money as possible.’ The press of wanting to provide security, stability, a solid foundation, is implicitly prioritised above my own work sanity.

I yo-yo between yes, my own thing CAN work. There are signs, incremental positive improvements. I have poured in so much time and stupidly major monetary investment, thousands of pounds. I should not cast that aside. As much as the day-to-day can be really tough, I know I’m more comfortable playing by my own rules, being independent, not sitting in an office and talking excruciatingly politely about the weather and the weekend to colleagues all day everyday forever until I die.

And I yo-yo between no, it WON’T work, this is stupid. You’ll never earn THAT much, not enough to equate to a serious salary. You’re good enough with money (tight/sensible/boring enough) to fudge along ok for a while, but in the long term? It’s time to wake up and grow up now, face up to your responsibilities, buckle-up to bullshit corporate-land. Wouldn’t a real job have perks anyway? Imagine having stability and predictability, annual leave, relatively guilt-free holiday, the chance to actually fully switch off?

In the middle of the yo-yo I have moments where I wonder if perhaps I shouldn’t just… you know, chill the fuck out with all the analysis. Stop being so dramatic and taking everything so seriously. Accept that in life and work, stuff is deeply unknowable and you’ve stumbled along this far, so perhaps you’ll stumble some more. You’ll work it out, so try worrying a bit less? Relax about the uncontrollables (but what if they ARE controllable?), try not to constantly beat yourself up with what-if guilt.

It’s pretty hard though, especially when you have more time than you’d like to mangle all this stuff in your brain. The internet makes it easy to see the zillions of people doing so much better than you. When under-occupied, I suspect most human neurons spark instinctively towards what-if worry, fear, guilt, worst-case scenarios; rather than cool, calm, mindfully philosophical ‘what will be will be’. It’s probably to do with primal self-preservation, the survival instinct, keeping the yo-yo spinning. Or something.

Advertisements

in sickness

Wheezing heavily over my keyboard as I originally typed this opening line, I wondered how to present what it was that I was trying to say. Nothing was all that clear.

Over the past few weeks my usually fairly reliable 34-year old body became alien to me: shrivelled and compressed, waves of hot and cold tingling from head to toe, body parts claiming curiously insistent pulsations (inside lower lip), involuntary grunting emissions like an old man in a care home, strangely transient rashes, the sensation of a razorblade guarding the stoop of my throat, greedy for medication, medication, medication.

Sickness offers a bleak window into a possible future where this is pretty much all that remains of life. Illness closely collaborates with ideas of mortality, and death. It can remind us how our bodies are temporary vessels, just a physical organism like any other, one which happens to be alive right now, a cage for our organs, a borrowed bit of blubber although supposedly more refined.

There are strangely dream-like moments of not being quite there, fully present in the moment. You feel that you are standing there in the kitchen like that, trying to hold that conversation with her, but everything’s in soft focus, a light vignette around the edges, a woozy drifting sense of elsewhere, you’re not really listening, trying to make the right noises in the right gaps, is this what dying is like? Or just what a relationship is like? Another wave of coughing crashes ashore.

There’s hopelessness and helplessness in badly wanting to be getting better and wanting to function normally again, but your body stubbornly resists, mutinying against your basic wishes like a belligerent child with whom it is impossible to reason.

You toy with the idea that perhaps you are dying from an obscure disease that won’t be detected until it’s too late, if it’s ever detected at all. You wonder how people will regard you if you do die, and you draft your own obituaries. “Work was never an easy thing for him…” I feel I would be kindly pitied a lot. It’s impossible to escape judgement in death.

You anticipate the mild euphoria of experiencing health and power again, the comeback, the resilience, the pride you will feel in this creaking vessel of a body.

It feels a way off.