Sunday, January 31, 2010


I'm struggling.

In grad school, I would sort of shut down before big exams. The stress and worry would make me disengage - I'd sleep and study and basically avoid thinking if at all possible. I'd do a lot of reading and watching television and just wait for the test to be over, at which time I'd snap back to life and become (relatively) normal again.

I thought that same was true of this European trip. I was nervous about it - missing flights or embarrassing myself in front of customers. Running out of cash or growing ill and being unable to make my appointments. So when I had trouble spending full days at work, I excused myself by saying I was resting and packing. And I proudly kept up with email while away, taking the time at airports and on planes to answer email and write trip notes and enter expenses.

I grew concerned when I had to drag myself to work on Friday. I tried to wave it away though - I'd been gone a long time and it's often a bit disconcerting to return to real life. But when I found myself shopping online - examining light fixtures and browsing books - I was rather appalled. I never do that in Industry - I'm always busy and focused and intense! But I felt listless and unsettled and eager to go home.

Rather than pouncing on my laptop during my waking hours this weekend, I ignored it all day yesterday. I read five books and took two naps. I cooked and did dishes. I curled up with Sprout and Chienne and watched snow fall and then sun shine. And I felt the nagging unease that my attitude was wrong.

Switching strategies, I squared my shoulders and opened my laptop immediately upon waking (before dawn - jetlag is better now but still screwing me over) and began to send notes from my visits to the official list of people who must know. I finished my expense report. I did some other critical tasks. I even blinked at my To Do.xls document before sighing and going to find another book to read.

I'm going to hope it goes away. My calendar is full but reasonably mild in terms of the tasks this week. I should be OK to ramp up while remaining reasonably effective. I also have more trips planned - appealing since I'd rather avoid the office. So while it seems New York would excite me a bit more than Cleveland, I look at both of them as easy opportunities to be somewhere else for a day or two. (I'm actually more looking forward to Ohio - NYC has always freaked me out somehow. It seems particularly overwhelming right now but seeing as I've successfully avoided going there thus far in my career, maybe I have one more dodge left for February.)

I'd say suggestions were welcome, but I'm not sure they are. I'm not sure I could accuse you of not understanding since I don't get it either. I almost don't want to look too closely at the feeling, having no energy to think through it and overcome it. Instead, I'll continue to wish it away when I can't distract myself.


repressed librarian said...

I wish I were going to NYC with you. I love it in an "it's fun to visit but wouldn't want to live there" sort of way, and I'm surprised by how little it freaks me out.

figuring-it-out said...

i know the feeling ... i'd sometimes just rather avoid the whole world and shut it out and just BE.

JaneB said...

I feel like this after work trips, especially solo ones - it's as if I can cope with the trip, the alertness, the sociability, the not getting sick and the juggling lots of currencies and so on, but when I get back my mind needs idling time. If I don't have a light week on my return with lots of lying around and frivolous books, I usually get sick... so you take the time you need! (And I bet Chienne and Sprout are enjoying having you around too)

Post a Comment