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.

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