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June 29, 2010

Brains. (Braaaaaaains…)

Filed under: Uncategorized — thirdxlucky @ 10:31 pm

Yesterday, I overslept my alarm for three hours, masturbated in the middle of the afternoon, and spent most of the day lying on the couch in my pajamas, reading Savage Love archives and eating frozen ThinMints and leftover Chinese food cold out of the box. This sounds like an awesome day, but actually it was awful.

It was awful because I was quietly berating myself the whole time for screwing around when I should be getting work done, for the fact that I hadn’t accomplished anything significant in weeks, couldn’t focus, couldn’t concentrate, didn’t know what the hell I was doing, was lazy and hopeless and helpless and totally not cut out for this job and apparently incapable of working without dictatorial oversight or a mandatory schedule and should probably just quit and wait tables because at least then I’d know what the hell I was supposed to be doing and I couldn’t take it home with me. By the time I dragged myself out of the house at 5:30pm, I felt totally worthless and gross. On the way home, later, I had a mini-meltdown all over Aug, convinced that I totally couldn’t hack this and was eventually going to get caught and lose my job and all the perks it entails like healthcare and flexibility and time to write. I made him sit down and literally babysit me so that I could accomplish the one tiny twenty-minute task that had to be done by this morning without zoning out on Facebook for three hours. This is totally embarrassing.

Then this morning, I got up on time, came into the office, made progress on a bunch of projects that I’m actually interested in, checked my Facebook inbox without getting sucked into the vortex, and had useful conversations with each of my colleagues – who consistently treat me like I’m an equal part of the research team and ask for my input on things as if I know what the hell I’m talking about, something which continues to blow my mind.

Things to remember:

1. Real research is not straightforward. Ever. Doing everything wrong and having to start from scratch is part of how research goes. I know this. But the fact that I know it doesn’t make me immune to it. Sometimes I’m just going to screw it up and have to start over. That’s fine. Breathe.

2. I just made a more serious, long-term commitment to this job than I ever have. Simultaneously, I’ve taken on responsibility for three major strands of the project, each of which involves teaching myself how to do some complicated thing I’ve never done before and building something from the ground up that other people are going to be dependent on, all before the end of the summer. In other words, I’m in totally unfamiliar territory and the stakes of navigating it are suddenly much higher than they used to be. This is actually pretty exciting… But it is not weird or surprising that I’m having a deer-in-headlights moment. It won’t be the last one.

3. Remember how I used to have these depression/panic-attacks kick in around school or work and I’d spend two or three weeks not leaving my house, not going to class, avoiding the office, not answering the phone, playing obsessive games of Scrabulous or posting reams of inane bullshit on Netphoria all night instead of sleeping, living off of Doritos and cigarettes, starving myself for days, plus random hysterical crying jags and hallucinating giant swarms of insects and axe-murderers hiding in my closet?

…So, yeah. Eight hours just chilling on my couch and finishing off last night’s lo-mein kinda sounds like progress.

4. Food. Exercise. Writing. Snuggling. Reading the Tao Te Ching. If I can get at least three of these in every day, I’ll be fine. I don’t need more therapy. I don’t need drugs. I don’t need to quit my job and wait tables. I just need to have faith that as long as I keep taking care of myself, everything else will fall into place.

I’m posting this here so that next time I’m on the verge of panicking – and there will be a next time and probably a hundred times after that – I can come back and read it. It’s gonna be fine. It’s gonna work out. It always works out. Breathe.

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