The Light at the End of the Tunnel

So last week I met up with a friend visiting this country and we spent the better part of the early afternoon wandering that holiest of tourist destinations, Jerusalem.

While wandering and gossiping and catching up and eating food, she mentioned quite nonchalantly that she reads my blog (woohoo!). Which segued quite naturally to my most recent post about changing jobs and restarting and blah blah. I started to tell her about the new job when we were distracted by a budding photographer (no, for real), which naturally segued into some other topic and the next thing we knew it was time to part ways.

On my way home I thought more about this plot twist that occurred, and what drove me to leave a fairly tolerable working arrangement. And that was when I realized…

lucy

Just substitute “Lucy” with “mama”.

A year ago I finally decided to start my blog, because one of my friends convinced me to just do it. Kudos to you, dude.

Writing was always fun and easy for me. The need to create, and the speed at which I could do it (thanks to years of intensive piano playing) made it worthwhile. I had tons of ideas in my head, like Richard Madoc from “Calliope” in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman graphic novels.

original

Not that I was cursed or anything, mind you. But I would still like to hear that story about the library in Alexandria, Mr. Gaiman sir.

Writing was cathartic, more so than playing the piano. Probably because I was expected to play the music exactly as it appeared on the page (and if I messed up it was bad). But with writing I had endless possibilities – and nobody could tell me if what I was writing was bad. Only that it might be similar to something that they had read before, or that I needed to add more details or expand an idea that seemed interesting.

There is an amazing amount of freedom and excitement in that kind of infinite creativity. At 12 years old the realization that I could write about anything was intoxicating.

But – life happens. As I grew older I didn’t have time to write creatively the way I wanted to. I was writing term papers, and seminar papers – still enjoying myself, because there were still elements of freedom in what I was required to write about.

But – life happens. As I grew older, I became exposed to different ideas, people, places, opinions, things. Suddenly I had a wider sphere of influence, which meant I could write better about more things. But I no longer had the time. Stories came and went and withered on the vine. In my momentary moments of inspiration (and quiet) I would get down an idea or two, sometimes if I was lucky an entire section of something that had been floating around my head.

I think I have about 20 such documents on my Drive. Some are huge and some are really tiny. But for the better part of 7 years they have been sitting there.

And then – unemployment. That and starting this blog were the kick (kicks?) in my pants to get back to all that writing. And it was FUN. I had forgotten how good it felt to write without restrictions, and – probably more important – I had forgotten how good I was as a writer. Sure, maybe a little rusty, but I was still good.

vanhel1

“Heh – I still got it.”

But – life happens.

In the most recent case, it was a job that sucked the joy out of life. Yes it’ s true – the job that allowed me to give the proverbial finger to the employment office was really not all that and a bag of chips. It was nothing and a pile of refuse.

lHGXyST

Yeah, accurate.

It’s true what they say about the snowball effect. I found myself dreading going to work at a place that by all accounts should have been a springboard for a decent career path, at the very least for the next three years while I was still in school. But half the time I would sit at my desk doing nothing. And not because the systems were down, or the work was mindless automaton-style data entry. There was actually nothing for me to do. Nothing for me to learn, nothing for me to accomplish.

On the other hand, there were days when there was SO. MUCH. WORK. that I was expected to take my computer home and work an additional 2-4 hours at night. For three days in a row. Only to return and be told that someone else had done a better job over the weekend.

The situation was either complete boredom or utter chaos. And the worst part is, everyone in the office knew and did nothing about it.

There is only so much of this kind of mental exhaustion you can take before you go completely insane, and it starts affecting the rest of your day-to-day life.

Hence – the blog went kind of dead. All the work I had done while I was unemployed on all those stories stopped dead in their tracks, and I had no desire to do anything creative. Not being in school didn’t help much either.

I often used the Hebrew word cheshek when talking to Hubby about how I didn’t want to do anything. Cheshek translates to desire, zest, zeal, gusto. All the words that generally push people to do something fun that they love doing. It’s the spark in your eye when you talk about said fun things that you love doing.

That’s cheshek. And that was gone.

The pronounced lack of cheshek started seeping into other parts of my life. I had to start forcing myself to do things that I knew I needed to do (like dishes and laundry and paying bills), that I wanted to do, and that I would enjoy, to no avail. I would sit staring at my computer screen for actual hours trying to tease new words from an existing story. I went to campus many times to practice piano.

I even started exercising.

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I tried everything I could to get up and go. I was the president and secretary of the “Fake It Til You Make It” club. If I had had any cheshek at all I would have made myself a sweatshirt.

I knew that this wasn’t good for me. But the kicker was HR telling me that, while they knew about all the work-related issues, they were too busy to do anything about it.

Let’s let that sink in, shall we. Human Resources, the people responsible for making sure that all employees are satisfied and employee relationships are decent, knew there was a problem and didn’t bother contacting Houston.

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Cliched sexism aside, this is kind of how the conversation went…

That’s how god-fucking awful it was. My life had become every clinical definition of insanity and depression that exists. I was doing the same things over and over again hoping for different results, yet at the same timeĀ I did not have the wherewithal to climb out of the black hole I found myself in.

And then – a light. I do not know what finally pushed me to GTFO of that hellhole, but I think it was the realization that I was complaining too much. Or maybe I reached the maximum number of times people would tell me a variation of the “You should do something” theme before the message finally sunk in.

So – I told one person that I thought I needed to find a different job. And then another. Suddenly I had interviews lined up and I found myself frantically fixing my CV during precious moments of downtime a rather slow day at work. Job hunting in secret while I was employed did not appeal to me, and I never thought I would be in a position where I would be compelled to do that. But I could not in good consciousness continue where I was, and sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

But here we are. I’m a month into a new job that involves creativity, writing, and thinking. I am part of a creative process. Most importantly, I feel significantly more satisfied at the end of each workday than I have in a long while.

I made it through to the other side, and I found the light. It’s like the fog has lifted.

[insert every applicably appropriate Disney-related meme here]

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