Ideally, I’d just disappear for the holidays.
Sadly, that can’t happen. Work has been frenzied, as everybody tries to get stuff squared away before the end of the year. Plus, there are organizational changes, and everybody needs to meet everybody else in person when they start working together, to see how it’s going to work out. I’ve been on regular calls, in ongoing meetings, pulled into the midst of the fray that I was blessedly spared from, for the first year I was at this job.
While it is validating to be included and play a more central role in decision-making and developments – and to actually have a say in what goes on – it is also exhausting. And I end up not being able to do higher-order things, because I’m stuck doing lower-order things, which totally sap my energy.
A few of those things are:
- Figuring out what people are saying to me, when I honestly have no clue.
- Dealing with people’s lack of logic, lack of experience, political posturing, artifice, pompous gravitas, and all the other things that prevent them (and me) from simply addressing an issue logically from the most efficient vantage point. It’s so frustrating to not only have to alter my own thought process, but then also have to “draw people along” to eventually reach the logical conclusion. Augh! It’s so awful. So painstaking and time-consuming. Energy-depleting, for sure.
- Figuring out what to say in return… despite gut-wrenching anxiety that I’m going to say something wrong and screw it all up. People want a response. I have to be careful. I can’t be flippant. And when I joke around, I’m always on edge that it will fall flat, and I’ll have trashed whatever rapport I’ve carefully built.
- Dealing with rush-hour traffic, because I get pulled into meetings with “regular people” (who have children in school, or who are on standard 9-to-5 schedules). People are terrible drivers. They don’t follow the rules. I usually drive in around 9:45 and then leave after 6:30 p.m., so I miss the worst of it. But these days, I’ve been stuck in rush-hours. Awful.
- Working in an “open space” work area, where everything is wide open, I have no privacy, and I cannot escape the intrusive sounds and sensations of the world around me. I’ve had to work more in a “touchdown” space, due to shifting meetings in other buildings. The lighting is awful. The space is awful. The scents of people’s cologne and perfume… that’s awful, too. It’s not so much a onslaught, as it is a steady erosion of my defenses — and energy. By the end of the day, I sometimes feel like I’ve been doing battle all day.
- Finding my way to unfamiliar offices and conference rooms… and then negotiating the peaceful transition of the conference room to my rightfully entitled team, from the “squatters” who refuse to get off their conference call — even though we have the room booked for X-o’clock sharp. This morning, I have to find a conference room I’ve never been to. I’m giving myself extra time. Ugh. Dread.
- Having to get my lunch in the busiest times of the day, in a cafeteria that is big and bright and loud and crowded — pretty much my worst sensory nightmare, which I can mitigate by getting lunch early (in and out quickly). Getting stuck standing in like in those conditions is yet another energy-suck.
- Chatting with people before and after meetings. That includes trying to recognize people I’m supposed to recognize, and sorting through the anxiety of not knowing whether I actually know someone or not, when I start talking to them. I’m intermittently face-blind — it gets worse when I’m overwhelmed.
- Getting to bed on time. This is such a challenge, this time of year, because the heightened demands seriously erode my ability to function (so things go slower), and then I require more down-time to recover from the day before I go to bed, so my waking hours get shifted forward 60-90 minutes, which is no good, because I have got to get my sleep.
All of these things, I can do. I’ve been doing them. It’s just a huge drain on me, over time.
And I feel the brunt of it, when I’m at home, away from the pressure to perform.
Had a mini-meltdown last night. Blew up over something that really wasn’t that big of a deal on the surface, but was just the last straw, after an extremely demanding day. It was a good day, but it was Too Much. I wept for a while, as I made supper, so that helped.
Fortunately, my partner just let me be as I walked around the kitchen crying. And after 20 minutes of weeping, the whole thing ran its course, and supper was on the stove cooking. Multitasking… Huh.
Anyway, in another week, things will be just on the cusp of shutting down for the end of the year. Tons of people are going on Christmas/New Years holiday, so it will be quiet. And I’ll be able to get so much done in their absence.
Until then, though, I’ve got an increased workload, together with needing to prep Christmas presents for family. Presents for family far off will be settled this weekend. Then I can focus on buying for my partner. And settling into the holiday season.
The meltdowns will come. That much can’t be helped. But it will all pass… and then I can get my life back.