Not Guilty

In my last counselling session, George and I were talking about job things and he suggested that I was “obsessed” with my work. I balked at this term — I’m no workaholic! “Obsession” is the term you use for people who can’t stay away from their jobs and work 16-hour days. I work a normal 8:30 to 5, and I prefer not to think about work at all when I’m not there. That was one of the issues I really ran into when I was studying to become a teacher; the inability to leave my work at work.

But the more we talked, the more I began to realize, to my horror, that he was right.

Obsessed, by definition, means:

preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent.

Source — Google’s “Define:” feature lol

As we talked I realized; work obsession isn’t just about being “on” and “working hard” all the time, it’s about having work or your job on your mind all the time. And mine, honestly, is. I worry about situations beyond my control, I keep an eye on my calendar to mentally prepare myself for tasks that need doing that week, I keep my phone on and myself available on evenings and weekends — even when we go away on trips I make sure to have access to my work PC for anything that crops up. I don’t want to think about work! I don’t love my job so much that I want to spend this mental energy on it. But I do.

And so! I’m writing this from a local coffee shop, because George challenged me to take one Personal Day a month. A day where I disconnect entirely from work things and only do what I choose to do. At first I readily agreed. That sounded great. Why wouldn’t I want that? But the execution has been amazingly challenging, so I wanted to get it down while it’s fresh, and then I’m going to play Super Metroid on my laptop.

First, trying to figure out what to do with a day to myself was such a big question that my brain revolted and tried to make me give up on the idea entirely. Do I stay home? Do I go out? Go to Winnipeg? Take people with me? Go alone? What do I do when I’m in a place? I was barraging myself with too many questions and feeling anxious that I didn’t know what I wanted!

Then came the guilt of trying to disconnect, of taking something just for me, and potentially creating inconvenience for others. Or I tried to tell myself I hadn’t earned the privilege — you have it so good, and other people don’t, how dare you. Again, a part of me wanted to just say forget it, you don’t need it that much, put it off, put it off.

Talking it over with Lori I became amazed, while saying my thoughts out loud, at just how much I was resisting the idea of taking one day out of a month. 12 out of 365. I’m genuinely feeling a little tense and anxious as I write this down (and taking frequent small breaks to breathe and look out the window).

But ultimately I was able to make some decisions about what sounded nice, and here I am today. But the thing I realized while planning, and the thing I’ve got to remember today — and already told myself a few times, when the day has gone differently than I’d imagined — Perfect is the enemy of Good. I do not need to strive to have a “perfect” day of rest and relaxation. If an activity is not working out I can stop and do something else. My entire sense of health and well-being does not depend on this one day going to “plan”. Okay? Okay.

Next post I want to talk about Psalm 2. This has gone on entirely too long already.

Thing I Saw: A small flock of birds, silhouetted against the morning sun, and flying away from a nearby apartment building.

Thing I Learned: Taking a day off is hard work, but worthwhile I hope.

I’m Grateful For: The freedom of movement and financial security that my job affords me.