Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Needing a reboot...

I do think I'm happier when I spend more time away from work during the weekend and such, and PERHAPS I'm more productive when I come back (I was able to spend about an hour yesterday afternoon writing).

I think part of it, for me, is that I have people "needing" me for things, and I get stuck in that mental place where (a) I have to make every task fit perfectly, like the blocks in Tetris and (b) if I make a mistake or hit an unexpected challenge*, I melt down, because that means the other tasks downstream of the interrupted task either don't get done or get done later or get done more slapdash.

(*the whole thing with the software being installed in the wrong room. On the one hand, it was just a silly miscommunication caused in part because I'm juggling too many things and I'm forgetful. I was able to salvage it by getting someone to show me how to use the SmartBoard in that classroom (we don't have a projector in there; we have a SmartBoard.....and the one instructor who used it heavily? Is the one who got downsized. Womp womp. So I'll teach in there tomorrow but it still bugs the daylights out of me that I made such a boneheaded error as to say the wrong room number)

I don't know how to change my perspective on this but two things I read today suggest that I need to.

First, in The Chronicle of Higher Ed, about Workoholism in US Higher Ed (though in the comments someone does argue that the Germans don't have it all that cushy, in fact) but the idea is that in many other countries, academics treat the weekend as far more sacrosanct and they would not think of going in to work, whereas for me, I tend to see taking Saturday off as "when can I steal the time to have a weekend without work." Now, granted, perhaps they work longer during the week (though I am not sure if that is true) but I do think I need to start pushing back at myself, and also at other pressures from outside, to Do More.

I know this is a bad trait of mine: I tend to see the job as "all I have" (because I don't have a family or even a pet, and I see my hobbies as "lesser" - as what I do when all my work is done already) so I probably give more of myself to it than I should. And therefore, when I make a silly mistake because I'm human and fallible and misremember something, I beat myself up over it for the better part of a day.

I also want to be "useful" and I feel like the way I am that is by teaching well and publishing research. And the teaching part is hard because it's so evanescent - one day last week I felt a real pang at the end of my biostats class when I took the eraser and erased a whole 50 minutes' worth of symbols and equations and worked problems I had written on the board - all that work, just gone.

I am pretty sure I inherited this from my father; I remember people (his coworkers) saying about him some of the things some of my Ravelry friends say to me now. I don't know. Perfectionism coupled with wanting to feel "useful" is a bad combination.

Second, from the Tumblr of "GreyMichaela," one of my ravelry friends, who had a follower ask her the rather brutal question "How can you stop existing without dying" and she responded:

"Take a break. Allow yourself a day to just… stop. Curl up in your bed, watch trashy TV, eat only things you want to eat, and do only what you want to do for a full day.
Schedule this day if you have to. If you live with people, tell them you’ll be unavailable and need to be left alone unless it’s an emergency. If doing this at home isn’t feasible, maybe you can go out, spend some time away from the house, where you can be alone in a crowd.
Too many people beat themselves up for needing to rest. Humans aren’t built to keep going constantly. Allow your body and mind to take a day off. If hiding under the covers sounds good, then do that. This is not you being lazy or decadent. This is you rebooting..."

I don't do it QUITE that way - I can't do the stay-curled-up-in-bed thing unless I'm actually physically sick (and even then, I'm more likely to be semi-clothed and camped out in the recliner or on the sofa).

BUT yes to the going-out part. This is what McKinney was like when I was still going there occasionally (I should check to see if the terrible road construction ever resolved). This is what going antiquing is for me. For me, it's getting away from being "needed" and being able to do only what I "want" to do - lunchtime? Instead of gulping down yogurt and fruit at my desk, I can go and get barbecue. Or go to a tearoom if there is one and get a fancy sandwich and a cup of Darjeeling. I only have to interact with people in the most surficial of ways - asking "do you have this dress in blue?" or commenting to the cashier at the antique shop that "I collect these" as I pay for whatever the item is. And yes, it's perhaps selfish to desire a day that's just about my wants instead of about what other people need.....but it's dealing with those needs that's worn me down so much this year.

The biggest thing is the "doing what you WANT to." A lot of times the trips to Sherman aren't really restorative because they mainly focus on "must leave time to get groceries" and I will say there have been more than a few times I've gone there with plans to hit the antique stores but by the time I've navigated the Target or wherever I have to go, I'm tired enough and it's late enough (and I have laundry or grading or mowing the lawn waiting for me at home) that I say "forget it, I'm just going to go to Kroger's and head home"

(Which is another reason why I wish we had a better big supermarket and no sales tax on groceries.)

I wish we had more options for this in town. There's still the little gourmet shop (and I need to get down there for some supplemental Christmas presents before Thanksgiving break) and a couple of gift-shops, but there isn't extensive shopping in town....and there isn't much else to get out and do, unless you hunt or fish. (Right now even hiking is kind of out as it's bow hunting season, and most of the promising hiking areas are open for hunting. And anyway, I won't hike alone. I'll do fieldwork alone because I have to do that, but hiking alone feels like taking a risk for something I don't "have" to do)

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