Dear Personal Demon: I’m leaving my job & it will be OK

Monday, June 1st, is my last day at the only company I’ve ever worked for.  After nearly eight years working in HR for this company, I’ve conducted dozens of exit interviews, collected hundreds of laptops, wished countless people goodbye and good luck, and now Monday is my turn.

As anyone who’s had more than a two-minute conversation with me in the past year can attest, deciding to leave my job has been a long and difficult process, full of many false starts and stops, a leave of absence, and occasional (ok, fine: frequent) hysterical meltdowns.  As a risk-averse person who’s been on the “high achiever” trajectory her entire life, leaving this job at a top company without a definite next step outlined is an enormously emotional and frightening undertaking.  In the last few days, as my leave of absence ends and my official end date approaches, I’ve been berating myself nonstop.  I have a little demon who lives in my head and spends most of his time yelling at me for being stupid, lazy, entitled, weird, awkward, ugly…you get the picture.  Working with my therapist, I actually drew the demon so I could talk to him and get him to chill (IT WORKS, OK?).  Here is what he looks like:

This is my demon.  Just to mock me, he has ripped abs.
This is my demon. Just to mock me, he has ripped abs.

Yeah, I’m not an artist, but the point is, he’s been especially loud the past few days.  “Why did you even go to college if you were just going quit this job at thirty?” the demon yells.  “Most people would kill to have your job!  If you leave now, you might as well throw the last decade of your life down the drain!  You have wasted your youth and your energy, AND FOR WHAT, SO YOU CAN TRY TO WRITE?  WHAT ARE YOU THINKING YOU NAIVE TWAT?  I HATE YOU!  ALSO, YOU’RE FAT!”  (Yes, the demon is a fat-shamer, too, just because he has SUCH GREAT ABS.  Well, demon, it’s easy to have great abs when you are a construct of my psyche and don’t need to eat actual food to survive so SHUT UP).

Living with the demon is exhausting, but I know he’s a piece of me, a younger piece, who is just afraid that I won’t be able to take care of myself (and, by extension, of him) without this job.  What the demon doesn’t know, however, is that the past eight years, far from being a waste, have equipped me to be a stronger and happier person.  These are the abilities/qualities/items that the demon doesn’t realize I’ve gained over the past eight years that are going to make the rest of my life better:

  • Actual work skills: Let’s face it, going to college teaches you nothing about how to do things in an actual work environment.  After nearly a decade in tech, I can do real things like productively counsel people on how to deal with their mean boss, help people get better jobs and figure out their own lives, and analyze things IN EXCEL!!!  I also have a bunch of LinkedIn connections so that’s cool.
  • Fake work skills: These are just as important as real work skills, and include stuff like: saying things in meetings that sound impressive but are actually mostly a recitation of acronyms, making useless graphs and putting them in slide decks and pointing to them in said meetings to a round of approving nods, blocking time on calendar marked “meeting with XYZ” where you are actually just hiding from everyone else in the office in a conference room while doing yoga breathing in order to alleviate your ever-present social anxiety.
  • Kind of managing my mental illness: Obviously, this is something that I’ve learned with the help of doctors and therapists, but the high-pressure environment of my job forced me to figure my shit out and prioritize taking care of myself so that anxiety and depression don’t consume me.
  • Being a real adult, mostly: I have a 401K, a savings account, and a rent-controlled apartment!  I also had a wine club membership once, but I canceled it, but I’m counting it as an adult thing because most of my cool, older bosses over the past 8 years have had wine club memberships and I considered them real adults.
  • Amazing life experiences and FRIENDZ: Because of this job, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in two of the best cities in the world – NYC and San Francisco – and make new friends for life.  I’ve also done some truly ridiculously awesome and random shit, including spending several days in the UK countryside crying in the forest with a group of coworkers and telling a lamb in a rain-soaked pasture that I was going to eat its cousin for dinner (I did).  I regret nothing, except maybe taunting that lamb.  Its cousin was delicious, though.

The point is that I have not wasted my youth or energy or education, and I’m not wasting it now.  I am in charge of my life, and I am more prepared for whatever’s next than my demon thinks I am.  You’ll see, demon: I am leaving my job, and it WILL be ok.

On writing

After years of vaguely dreaming that one day I’d have the time and drive to actually write something real, I’m finally doing it, and it’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience.  I used to write short stories “for fun” in the summers in high school and college, but then I started working and everything else in my life sort of disappeared because capitalism.  Throughout my twenties, I would sometimes come home from work and open a doc on my computer, intending to commit ideas to (virtual) paper that had been floating around in my head for months or even years.  After a sentence or two, or maybe a paragraph, I would stand up, pace around my bedroom/kitchen/living room while silently berating myself for wasting time that could be better spent exercising or sleeping or doing actual work, and then close my computer to go watch the Daily Show before passing out.   This all changed a few weeks ago when I came back to San Francisco after over a month of leave time at home with my family.  After completing the requisite grocery shopping, pharmacy, and laundromat trips, I realized that I had a lot of fucking time on my hands.  I had all sorts of grand plans for how to fill this time: I was going to volunteer, and do yoga seven days a week and get ripped abs, and take a psychology class, and knit, and also perhaps learn hip hop or some shit.  I was ambitious, ok?

Instead, without really planning on doing it, I started writing a novel.  I’ve written 1-3K words per day on average for nearly four weeks.  I think some of it is great, and some of it is awful.  Most of it is ok and can be made good with revisions. When it’s done I will see what I can do with it – if I can sell it, or self e-publish it, or just share it with my friends and family who will tell me IT’S TOTALLY AWESOME no matter how shitty it is.

What’s interesting is that after a decade of intending to write without doing anything about it, now that I’m actually writing it’s not at all what I expected.  Here is what I have learned from nearly a month spent writing:

  • Writing is super easy…when you’re inspired, which happens like for five minutes on average per day.  You’ll be writing one particular piece of dialogue, or a sentence or two of description, and it just flows, man, from your brain, and you’re like, whoa, I am a fucking genius, this is some Charles Dickens-level shit right here!
  • Writing is extremely fucking hard…the vast majority of the time.  And also boring.  You’ll type a sentence, and look at it, and realize you left out four words, and then fix it, and then realize that you used “surprisingly” twice.  And then you’ll fix that, and realize that you just replaced one instance of “surprisingly” with “to my surprise,” which is basically the same fucking thing.  Then you go on thesaurus.com to look up synonyms for “surprisingly,” and the first option is “exceptionally,” and you’re like, why the fuck would I want to use the word exceptionally, I want surprisingly, but I can’t say it twice, jesus why is this so hard I WENT TO COLLEGE! Then you delete the sentence and start again, and this is why writing novels takes longer than like, a week, for most people, Stephen King, you motherfucker.
  • Writing is best done in coffee shops…because if you try to do it at home, you get distracted by things like your refrigerator, which is full of food, and so you eat it, but then you have dirty dishes in the sink, and you know that because it’s San Francisco the fruit flies will be all over that shit, so you wash the dishes, and then it’s been thirty minutes and all you’ve managed to do is look up synonyms for “surprisingly” on thesaurus.com.
  • Writing in coffee shops is a terrible idea…because everyone there is also writing on their laptops, and they look really professional and/or like tortured artists in skinny jeans and flannel and hipster glasses, and you start thinking, well, shit, that bitch over there is probably the next Harper Lee or something and here I am writing some contemporary romance crap, and then you scoot your chair over to get a better look at what that girl is writing, and it turns out she’s just checking Facebook, and then you’re like, HAHA SHE’S SO LAZY WHAT IS SHE EVEN DOING IN THIS COFFEE SHOP WHICH IS FOR ARTISTS ONLY?! And then you realize that you’ve been in the coffee shop for ninety minutes and have written only 200 words, consumed two mochas, and really have to pee, but you don’t want to use the coffee shop bathroom because it’s gross, so you go home to pee, and then are distracted by your refrigerator again and it’s a vicious cycle.
  • The internet is really helpful for writing…because you can do “research” and look up synonyms on thesaurus.com instantaneously, and in the olden days people had to actually own real thesauruses (thesauri?) and dictionaries and if they went somewhere other than their house they had to lug it with them.  Poor Jane Austen.
  • The internet is the worst thing ever in the history of writing…because of literally everything else on the internet that is not thesaurus.com, including wordpress.com.

I’ve probably learned other things in my month of writing, but I can’t remember them right now because I got distracted watching a video of a German Shepherd doing laundry on YouTube. 

Guys, my book is going to be AMAZING.

You CAN go home again

**Trigger Warning – this post discusses suicidal thoughts**

(yeah, I know, I’m that girl with a trigger warning on her blog post lol)

When I started this leave of absence I was really looking forward to going home, and then as soon as I got here I began to regret it.  Not so much because of the cold (and JESUS CHRIST IS IT COLD) or the snow (and JESUS CHRIST THERE IS SO MUCH MOTHERFUCKING SNOW I CAN’T EVEN), but because it didn’t immediately cure the depression I’ve been feeling since early January and, in fact, seemed to make it worse.  When I go home for vacations I generally feel a wave of relief as I lug my suitcase up the stairs and dump its contents on the floor of my childhood bedroom.  I sigh with contentment and prepare to regress into a blob in a sweatshirt who reads a lot of trashy novels and indulges in Starbucks mochas on a daily (or even twice daily!) basis, and I revel in it.

This time is different, though, because I’m not here for a break in between performance management cycles.  I don’t have a return ticket yet.  I’m here to rest, yes, but also to try to figure some things out, and to not be alone in an apartment while I do it, because I’ve been really sad recently and it can be dangerous to be alone and sad.

Last week, instead of dumping my clothes out on my bedroom floor, I emptied out my old chest of drawers for the first time in 15 years (fun fact: apparently I had a fondness in middle school for shorts with stuff written on the ass because I was #sofancy) so I could put my real clothes away.  I spent a day cleaning out my closet and desk so that I have actual adult living space.  I moved in, at least for a little while.

Instead of the relief I typically feel when coming home, I was listless and depressed.  My brain was on overdrive, running a loop of self-directed insults about my worthlessness, ugliness, and laziness on repeat.  My mom in particular kept asking me what was wrong.  At dinner on Sunday with my parents and my brother, things got bad.  I don’t remember exactly what was said, but basically my mom got frustrated and fell into the trap (which many family members of depressed people do, it’s common and understandable, if not useful) of trying to get me to “snap out of it” and “appreciate how good” I have it and realize that “other people are a lot worse off.”  I retreated into my room and didn’t come down until past midnight, when everyone else was asleep but her.

For the first time since the night in early January when I called her sobbing, we talked about real things.  Specifically, I explained the full extent of how I’ve been feeling since I turned 30.  I’d never told her all of it.

The Thursday after my 30th birthday, I spent the entire shuttle ride (nearly 2 hours) home sobbing quietly in my seat.  It took me 30 minutes to shuffle the two blocks from the bus stop to my apartment; I kept considering going back and throwing myself into traffic on Stanyan (not a very reliable suicide plan, but whatever).  When I got home I wrote a suicide note.  I thought about going up on the roof and jumping off (not the best plan either, in hindsight; a jump from my roof would likely only have maimed me, albeit badly). And then I called my parents.  I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t, but I think it would have been ok.  I would have called my therapist or the company emergency hotline, I think.

My mom was understandably upset to hear about all of this, but she was also relieved that we were talking about it.  She apologized for what she’d said earlier, and after an hour or so of talking I felt so, so much better, and still do three days later.

One thing we talked about is that a lot of people have suicidal thoughts.  It’s not uncommon, and it’s not something to be ashamed of or something that makes you weak or crazy.  The important thing is to get help and talk to someone, and realize that actions are different from thoughts.  I didn’t act that night, and I’m glad that I instead called my parents and have since discussed that night and how I’ve been feeling with my therapist, doctor, some friends, and now my mom.  So yeah, if you’re going through anything, please check out the many resources that are available and feel free to call a friend or family member to be with you until you feel safe!

Anyways, after having this conversation, I’m finally beginning to feel a little of that relief that I usually feel when coming home.  I don’t feel as lazy or useless and the monologue of insults in my head have quieted (even though I took a long nap today lol).  Part of me thinks that I had to come home just to have that conversation with my mom, if nothing else – to be able to look her in the eye when I told her how I’m feeling and know that, while she doesn’t always understand me, she loves me and will always try to help me no matter what I’m going through.

So yeah, I’m not entirely sure what this post was even about, but at the end of the day I’m glad that I’m here and am able to write this, I guess.  And yeah, if you ever do feel like you’re in so much pain that you would consider hurting yourself, call a friend, family member, or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1 (800) 273-8255.

In lighter news, tomorrow my mother and I are going to a Muse Paintbar to paint a picture of a willow tree while drinking wine, so…that should be interesting!  Stay warm, my friends.

Because I’m a glutton for punishment

I’m sitting in Terminal 2 at SFO, waiting to board my flight to Boston to be with my family in New Hampshire.  Of course, it’s going to be 70 degrees and sunny in San Francisco today and I’m voluntarily flying to a region of the country that currently closely resembles Dante’s ninth level of Hell, minus the Devil chewing me for all eternity in his giant maw.  Though given the forecast for tonight is four degrees in NH I might prefer Satan’s mastication.  I’m apparently a glutton for weather-related punishment.

The last few days have been weird.  I’m profoundly relieved not to be working (especially given some of the thoroughly exhausting and annoying problems I’ve been dealing with at work recently that have been chipping away at my capacity not to scream at everyone), but I also didn’t realize how much I depend on work for day-to-day social interaction.  When you live alone and are not going to an office everyday, it’s easy to go forever without speaking to another human being unless you’re buying food or coffee.  Don’t get me wrong, my local barista is awesome and knows my usual order, but we’re not exactly on intimate terms.

So I’m really looking forward to being with my family, and also hopefully spending some time with my friends on the East Coast during the next month and a half.  But I know now that when I do return to SF at the end of March that I really have to plan activities or take classes that put me in regular contact with other people on a daily basis.  As an extreme introvert, it’s too easy for me to be alone.  After a day of solitude, I enter a weird anxiety vortex where I start dreading my next social interaction, even if it’s with a close friend or family member.  I wrap alone-ness around me like a blanket and want to avoid the chilly outside air at all costs and start circling the Netflix drain.

My goal, therefore?  Not to hibernate or to hide for the next three months.  I want this time to be productive and regenerative, not an excuse to indulge some of my more antisocial instincts.  Of course, I might freeze to death in the next three days, but if I do at least know that I intended to better myself.  I’ll write again on the other side of Satan’s jaw!

Welcome, my pretties! And some heavy shit…

This is the new home for my blog.  It’s the same title as the old blog, but it’s here instead of there and I’m totally going to post ALL THE TIME, LIKE YOU WILL BE SO IMPRESSED, I PROMISE! (pinky swear)

Here’s the deal – last month I turned 30 and promptly lost my damned mind.  I don’t know if it was the birthday milestone or what, but depression reared its ugly head and, long story short, I decided to quit my job.  I went in last week to give notice and, following a series of events too tiresome to recount here, I’m now officially out on an extended leave of absence from work to deal with my emotional issues and be a non-working human for a while.

This is a big deal because, as everyone I’ve ever interacted with on the face of the planet can verify, I’ve been threatening to quit my job and go live in a van down by the river 2x per month for the past seven and a half years.  Quitting wasn’t as…final as I’d planned, but now I think this leave is the right thing.  For the next ~3.5 months, I can just exist and be.  That sounds new-agey and shit, but if there’s one thing two years of therapy have taught me it’s that I derive self-worth from the wrong places.  I vividly remember breaking down in the girls’ room in high school one day after we received our report cards.  I’d received a “B+” in AP Chemistry, as I recall.  I held it together as long as I could after class until I could get into the bathroom, and then I lost it.  A couple of other girls who’d followed me in there to pee were bewildered.  I wasn’t particularly liked in high school for various reasons, but they did try to comfort me.  “It’s still a good grade!” one girl said, slightly horrified in the face of my uncontrollable sobbing.

“You don’t understand,” I wailed, my vision blurry from tears, “This is all I have.  I have nothing else.”

Over twelve years later, I often still feel that way – that I don’t know who I am apart from what I accomplish.  “What do I have?” I still ask myself, other than my company’s name on my CV, followed by a list of promotion dates and my degree.  Most people would argue that that’s more than enough, and they’re right – but only if you feel that you, as a person, are enough without any of those things.  Every human being has the right to feel worthy of existing, of being loved, independent of whether they make good grades or land a top job.

I simply don’t feel worthy, even with the CV.  I joke to my friends that I feel “guilty for existing,” but it’s not really a joke.  I often think that I’m taking up space and air on the planet that could be better used to support someone more deserving.  These aren’t rational thoughts, of course, they’re sick thoughts, but despite the meds and the therapy I still have trouble not thinking them.

So that’s what this leave is about.  I may go back to my original job or I may not, but either way I’m going to try to be for the next few months and learn to appreciate and maybe even like who I am as a friend, daughter, sister, and human being.  A new start calls for a new blog, so here we are.  I hope you keep reading.

…no, but seriously

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Sincerely GC

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c'est pas moi je l'jure!

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The World Of Anand

...no, but seriously

Mid-Century Curves

Because someone my age and my size still likes to look cute!

Tales from the Cabbage Patch

Because everyone wonders where they came from

mypassengerdiaries

travel and adventure

Sincerely GC

Welcome To My Perfectly Imperfect World

c'est pas moi je l'jure!

Un p'tit coin d'paradis loin du monde. Des chats, des recettes, des jeux, des voyages, des coups de gueule, des coups de blues, de la musique, des rigolades, et tout ça pour pas un sou!

Dysfunctional Literacy

Just because you CAN read Moby Dick doesn't mean you should.

Redeem the Thought

because thoughts become movements

The Introvert's Dictionary

Because we speak a language all our own.

Toast and Tea

Express Yourself in Beautifully Webbed Words

Traveling Rockhopper

TRAVEL PHOTO BLOG ~everyday, you find here an inspiring travel picture~

The Falling Thoughts

Poems, Poetry Plus Passion

Kayla M Burson

Reader, Writer, Thinker, Creator

Storyshucker

A blog full of humorous and poignant observations.

Confessions of Anna Secret Poet

Drag poet, chanteuse and exhibitionist

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