I am totally that person. Overwhelmed with a feverish nervousness about halfway through my Sunday. Anxiety cues like playing with my hair or chewing extra sticks of gum are noticeable as I’m wondering how full my inbox will be when I finally arrive back in the office in just a few short hours.
Some Sunday nights are spent having nightmares of endless meetings. Others are sprinkled with blissful dreams of the most epic quitting stories imaginable. In one I, the heroine, am hoisted on the shoulders of my colleagues as we all march out into the streets. Applause at my bold renouncement of lacking vacation time and stern words at management ring out into the southern California suburb. Out of nowhere my co-workers will have made signs reading things like, “Joni for President!” or “In Joni we trust!”
The delusions of grandeur are endless. I definitely relate with JD from Scrubs in my daydream adventures for those times when I actually am in the office. In nearly all of the 9,000 meetings we have a day, I’m off in dreamland staring blankly at an upper corner of the ceiling. After a few minutes a quiet giggle will escape and my boss will stop everything to ask sternly, “What’s so funny??” I quickly have to stammer some intelligible response related to the TPS reports they were talking about because I was definitely not imagining Sam from accounting finally losing it, taking off his pants and streaking out of the room shouting obscenities about too many pricing plans.
Here’s the big annoying problem though. Every few hours or so, my stomach makes this funny sound. It’s not just every now and then, this happens every single day. The only way to shut it up is to place food in my mouth and swallow it. And the only way to get food? MONEY! That or farming, but if you’ve ever seen any houseplant given to me (I don’t buy the plants, I know better), you’ll understand that my house is pretty much a hospice where plants are sent to die.
Ah money and capitalism. This society wasn’t built in a way to support artists or dream having. Work is the American way, and the more you do it, the more freedom you’ll be able to buy. Kind of like an old German saying, “Arbeit Macht Frei.” That means “Work makes you free.” Oh and also, that lil idiom was adorned on many Nazi concentration camp gates. That was the first thing prisoners saw as they marched into camps, intended to teach them that if they just worked hard enough, they could be set free.
No I’m not suggesting the American working system is anything at all like the horrors that occurred in the late 30’s/early 40’s, but the slogan itself is something to think about. Do we, perhaps, in a teeny tiny way totally believe this? I think we do, as a quick google search of the saying brought me examples of people still trying to use it legitimately, such as a publication offering it as advice for unemployed graduates or this inspirational speaker bringing it home as a key to success.
I’m not contesting the value of work, it’s extremely important. No arguments there, get a job. I tell my dog that all the time but she just sleeps all day and expects me to do everything….damn gold digger.
But I think we’ve laid a simplistic model on the working world that doesn’t necessarily fit every person. I doubt I’m the only one who gets the Sunday sickness and Monday depression. There’s millions of other people like me who celebrate Thursday nights like a weekly Christmas Eve, enjoying wine in celebration of the Christmas-like Friday of freedom to come. Gone for two whole days are the to do lists, management woes, and crabby emails.
I completely accept that I’ve put myself in this particular situation of 9-5 employment. I spent my 20’s in college and shit for pay jobs, so I have some bills to take care of. Tuition is crazy expensive and I didn’t have any money, but I’m such a narcissistic asshole that I wanted to go to college and post-grad anyway. No my parents didn’t help me and no I’m not upset about it. Yes I’m pissed off at my government for making it so hard for young people who want to read books and understand more about the world, but that’s another topic.
At the end of the day, tuition bills and starting from essentially the bottom has me and millions of others working for the man. Which is totally fine for some people…but I’m here to suggest that the simple, tidy, Monday through Friday, 9-5 schedule isn’t going to glean as much productivity out of some of us. Creativity doesn’t always happen when you want it to. Sometimes it wakes you up in the middle of the night. Sometimes it occurs in the middle of the big game. The model of this-is-when-you-work-no-ifs-ands-or-buts might work just fine for some people. But for some of us it just doesn’t – and we are miserable because of it.
This is why school is so awesome for people like me. You have a deadline and then YOU figure out when you need to write that paper. YOU set up the study sessions in the middle of the night and it’s YOUR ass at the end of the day if the quality of work is a failure. It takes self-discipline, time management, responsibility and careful planning. Kind of like the owners of businesses – it’s their ass if the business fails.
Those of you having convulsions right now at the very thought of deadlines, papers and/or academia in general…then maybe the 9-5 is a good thing for you and that’s awesome. We need people like that, who enjoy the predicability of work, can be counted on to be there, answer phones and manage others. But for people like me, the convulsions on Sunday eve, Monday morning, are getting ridiculous.
Therefore, I’m doing something about it, and am excited for what’s coming up next. But how about you?
Are you in this position? Then what are you going to do? What is going to happen this week to change your life? Or have you found a model that works for you and you truly enjoy work? I want to hear about it and encourage you, for no one should have to face the first world problem that is Mondays alone.