On Workaholism

Hi. My name is Tim((Hi Tim!)) and I am a workaholic.

I’d like to lead off by saying that in general, I am a person who is very aware of what I am good at and what I am not good at. I am very good at online geography quizzes, making Excel do exactly what I want it to, turn-based strategy games, and snarking at whatever happens to be on television at a given moment. I’m very bad at telling who people are just by looking at their faces, singing((Outside of a very, very small range of songs.)), keeping my opinion to myself, and making grilled cheese. This trait also applies to my work experience and the skills/traits related to various jobs I’ve held. I’m very good at calming people down, creative thinking, and designing properly scaffolded courses within a curriculum. I’m very bad at sales, business politics, and having any semblance of work-life balance.

That last item — work-life balance — is of particular note for a few reasons. First and foremost, while it is a factor that has become very obvious to me at my current job, this job is not the first job I’ve had this happen with. When I was in high school, I lived so close to the pizza shop I worked at that I could walk there in under five minutes. Despite the limitations placed on workers under 18 in the state of Ohio, I tried to work as much as I possibly could. In my mind, it made sense, as I was paying for my own gas, car insurance, school supplies, school fees, and pre-paid cell phone at the age of 16((I was paying for all of those except gas and insurance at 15, though if 15 year olds could drive, I likely would have been paying for things then.)). There were a number of things my family couldn’t afford, so why shouldn’t I be trying to bank as much money for myself as possible?

Fast forward to adulthood. I’m nearly ten years out of high school, married, and in a significantly better financial position than I was when I wasn’t the person providing for me. I’m managed to put myself in a pretty good position now and in an even better position for where I’ll be long-term.

I’m also tired, stressed, and jaded.

I had a rough week recently. On the Sunday of that week, I spent the better part of nine hours working on various items for work. It was a very productive Sunday((Even outside of the work stuff I completed, I wrote a blog post, got groceries, did dishes, and took out the trash.)), but one that left me rather drained when I went to bed. Monday was a frustrating day at work which left me in tears on multiple occasions at home. Following a rather large fight with my wife, I mentally vowed to do something about my stress level — though with no idea what at the time. Tuesday was just as frustrating as Monday, if not more so. At the end of the day, I left work without my computer.

This is a huge step for me for various reasons, both work-related and not. My personal computer is very, very slow. I’m currently writing this post on said computer, which has a brand new install of Windows 10 and is running Chrome with two tabs open((Neither of which are data-intensive: WordPress and Reddit.)) and nothing else. My computer is lagging about three words behind me as I type. As a result, I tend to use my work computer far more frequently than I would in other situations. But with using the work computer for personal use comes doing work more often. Excluding the week before my wedding and the time I was gone on my honeymoon, I’ve worked from home at least 4 nights a week (typically more) every week since October of 2014. It’s left me in a position where the emotions I listed above — tired, stressed, and jaded — only hit the tip of the iceburg of my fatigue. Even worse, because my job is often times writing-intensive, it leaves me not wanting to blog (or reusing old posts from my old blog).

I ended up leaving my computer at work two more times that week. I’m trying to make an effort now to not bring it home other than on weekends (or if I need to because my computer won’t load a website I need, which has sadly happened multiple times recently, though still less often than when I was running Windows 8). It’s a small step…and admittedly it’s one that’s difficult to make. I don’t want to live my future like I lived my past. I don’t want my adulthood to be dictated by stress, poverty, anger, frustration, or any combination therein. And as such, I need to learn to strike a balance to keep my sanity. Otherwise, I won’t have a future to dictate.

To Find Peace, Start At Home

I stress easily. I’m not sure how early in my life this started, however I do know it’s been going on as long as I can remember. It’s not that I stress about everything. I can’t recall the last time I stressed about something academic (maybe the hell that was my sophomore English class in high school?), nor can I recall a time where I stressed because I felt like I wasn’t able to live up to a responsibility set forth before me. Things that stress many people out aren’t the catalyst for my stress.

Money? That’s a huge stress point. This past winter I went to visit my dad and grandparents. I met my dad at his work place so that we could pick up lunch for my grandma (who was going through chemotherapy at the time). When my dad went to the ATM to get cash out, he was so excited that he still had $15 left after making his withdraw. If my bank account sniffed $150, I’d be finding a second, third, and fourth job.

Work? Another giant stress point. I do nothing less than everything I can do every single day at work. It makes me work late here and there frequently, however I was raised with the mentality that you don’t leave work until your job is done. While I know this pays off in the long run, it certainly drives me insane in the short-term.

Here’s the thing though…I don’t like to stress. Shocking, right?

I tend to float around reading blogs around the internet quite a bit. I realize many of you who are commenters (frequent or occasional) on this blog likely ended up coming here for the first time because I left a comment on your blog. In my perusing, I came across this post by Amanda at Musings of a Crazy Cat Girl discussing where she finds peace. While I won’t steal Amanda’s thunder (or traffic to her blog) by listing out her items on this post, what I will say is that there was a consistent theme across all five items that brought here peace. That theme is that each of the items that bring her peace are near and dear to her heart.

I decided to take my own stab at this by listing off five items that bring me peace and allow me to destress. My apartment has become its own sanctuary for my mind and my sanity, so I chose to limit myself and my list to activities that can be completed in, or items that can be found within my apartment.

Image credit: actclassy.com. Seriously though, if you have bacon, you’re automatically classy.

1. Cooking – I love to cook. I’ve found joy in making food ever since I was a young child (and have the scar on my head to prove it). It’s just such a calming and gratifying action to be able to take ingredients and turn them into something wholly different and new. Of course, being able to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of my labor is always a plus.

2. Sleep – I realize this might be a bit of a copout response, however a big reason I (along with many other people) have such a difficult time dealing with stress is due to a lack of sleep. I totally remember hating naptime as a kid. After all, why would I want to take a nap when I could go outside and get grass stains on my jeans from playing football? Adult me realizes that little kid me was half wrong — I should have taken a nap THEN went to get he grass stains on my clothes.

Image credit: explosm.net

3. Video Games – I have to use my mind a lot at work. Getting bombarded with question after question after question after question after question from every angle for days upon weeks upon months takes a bit of a toll on the mind. Sometimes, it’s just fun to turn on the Xbox 360, put in NCAA 12, turn the difficulty down to the lowest setting, and win 94-0. Owning fighting/wrestling games allows me to take out pent-up frustration on video game characters…plus as we’ve discussed before, I’m a bit of a wrestling mark.

4. Music – Music a very cathartic part of my life. I realize that’s the case for many people, and I’m certainly no exception to the rule. After a long day, I’ll put on some of my favorite songs and just let the music play while I relax or eat dinner. Nine times out of ten, I’m feeling better within a half hour or so.

So I GISed for “love of writing” and got this. The fuck do meerkats have to do with writing? Image credit: fuelyourwriting.com

5. Writing – Sure, this was the obvious final choice on the list, but my writing really does mean that much. Frankly, my writing doesn’t always have to be on my blog in order to relieve my stress (though lately most of my writing has been blog related). It’s just the action of writing that allows me to rid myself of stress and pent-up emotion. Some of my best posts — be they personal posts, short stories, or something entirely different — have come about as a result of writing when I’m stressed.

What do you do to find peace and destress? Sound off in the comments.

Front page image credit:  Umberto Salvagnin on Flickr