As of about 20 minutes ago, I am officially unemployed. I feel things but I am not sure what those feelings are. This is a familiar feeling for me. It’s bittersweet. I had a love-hate relationship with my job.
For the last 3 months, I’ve been a Senior Health Coach and Coach Trainer for Open Source Wellness in Oakland and Hayward. During that time, I’ve coached small groups of individuals to help them achieve their health goals. It was my job to help people through their shit by asking the kind of questions that force us to confront ourselves. Like, “what is stopping you from having [insert goal] right now?” or, “what will having [goal] do for you?” or even, “tell me more.” It’s incredible what people will share when they feel listened to. It was my job to be that ear and understand.
It’s the work I thought I was meant to do, considering I spent 6 months becoming a certified health coach this year and have spent the last 10+ years nerding out over my own health and wellness. Being a health coach was my last attempt at following my passion. But I was wrong. Yet again. Health coaching is definitely not what I am meant to do. Not even close. It’s closer to the opposite of what I should be doing, whatever that is. Whatever it is, though, it is certainly something less social and emotionally demanding.
The depressing and general shittiness I’ve been feeling the last month or so continues. Has it really been a month? I remember complaining to my personal trainer–whom I hired once a week for 3 months, back when I had a unique brand of optimism I currently lack–before Thanksgiving. Between supersets of incline pushups and kettlebell lunges and barbell squats, I uncharacteristically divulged about how I felt stressed about socializing with my in-laws over the holidays, and how I needed to find a new job, and how motivation was becoming harder and harder to find because I technically had no reason to get out of bed every morning.
That was over a month ago now. Since then, I’ve spent more time in bed than I’d like. I find myself frowning a lot too, and that’s not just because my roommates won’t turn off the lights at night. I also lash out at my husband and roommates because taking my stress out on others is what I do sometimes. It’s awful and I know it, but it’s what happens. I am working on it. I wish I could be nicer, but fuck, sometimes it’s hard. Just turn off the goddamn lights! And eat with your mouth closed. And go away.
Last week I wrote about it, detailing what I now fear were self-indulgent and superficial worries about my present reality, many relating to self-conscious thoughts and apparent body image issues. I didn’t think I had this issue anymore, but there it was, staring back at me. Is this something I need to work through, or is it just me being dramatic because my brain is depressed and is thus searching for more reasons to stay depressed?
Or maybe when grandma apologized to my 16-year-old self for my “thunder thigh” genes and for inheriting her unfortunate bone structure, I guess I internalized that more than I thought. Fuck grandma and her fat thighs, by the way, but also it’s been nearly 15 years. Is that where this started? Or was it when the short fat woman handing out uniforms in Navy boot camp actually said I was fat and needed a bigger size? Fuck that bitch too, by the way. Who says that? I’ve never actually been fat and I know that. I’ve just been periodically super insecure for no logical reason, other than being exposed to unfortunate sociological beliefs. Also, everyone is hard on themselves like this. Everyone looked awkward at various times in life. Get over it. Right? Right.
There’s a psychology to all this, going back to me being a bitch to people; what we hate about others is a reflection of our own insecurities. This materializes behaviorally for me. When I lash out or get irritable or mentally beat up on someone (why can’t people just turn off the lights? don’t they care about the environment or our electric bill? you can’t bitch about being poor and in debt and then turn around and leave the lights on all night! get it the fuck together!), it’s probably just because I subconsciously haven’t fully accepted myself yet. That’s a thing, right? Isn’t that how humans work? When we hate ourselves, or even just a part of ourselves, we start to take out this inner subconscious anger (rage? do I feel rage?) on others? I think that’s what I’m doing and I bet it’s why I am so irritable and judgemental all the time.
Can you believe I just finished a job as a health coach? I basically just described the worst qualities to have for someone whose job it is to understand and sympathize with other people: angry, irritable, and judgemental. I wonder if I’ve been historically drawn to this type of work–first as a Senior Caregiver, later as a Special Education Paraeducator, now as a Health Coach–because by helping others I somehow convince myself that I’m helping myself? If I fix them, I’ll be fixed. Or maybe it makes me feel superior in some sick way? Fuck these people, let me enlighten you. I should stop psychoanalyzing. I have no idea what I am talking about and I’m starting to paint myself to be a monster. I’m actually pretty decent in real life. Personable, even. People like me. Except for a few of my in-laws, who have actual issues with (probably) this part of my (otherwise charming) personality.
But I am done with social work. That’s a fact I won’t feel the need to take back or regret saying. I am so fucking done with social work. It’s not that I regret everything that led me to this moment in life, but maybe just a little. It’s not actual regret I feel and cry about. But in my head lives all the dreams of what could have been. Lately, I find myself tearing up for no reason. I haven’t cried yet. But I feel a cry coming. I’m not convinced it’s because my life is nothing like what I think it should be. I read somewhere–probably the Internet but I’d like to say it was a book–that people are born with a certain degree of happiness. Some people are just naturally more happy (or not) than others. I think I am one of those others. Happiness isn’t my thing. It’s a thing of my future, to be sure, but never right now. How goddamn depressing is that? Very. I’m working on it.
This always happens. I start to bitch and moan about something, or open myself up just a little bit, only to recoil in shame at my own words days or weeks later. I will probably feel that way about this post, sooner or later. Being vulnerable is hard and it sucks but science says we should do it. I watched a few TED talks on it. Within vulnerability lies personal power. And I need personal power. You do, too. It’s very human of us. I crave some kind of emotional release that doesn’t involve actually opening up to another human. Blogging is like opening up and releasing to the void of the Internet. Right? Hello, Interwebs. Hello, world. I’m here. Acknowledge me. There. Thank you.
Sometimes, a very real part of me worries that a future employer will find this not-at-all-secret-blog and therefore not hire me. Or that a past employer (read: professional reference) or acquaintance, whose opinion I somehow care about, reads my blog and finds out that not only am I human with inconsistencies, but a beautifully imperfect one. Or my fat-thigh grandma. She might read this, too.
It terrifies me that people actually read this, and yet I cannot help but write it all out. The first thing I did when I got home from my last day of work today was kick my husband off the computer and pound out these words. I asked nicely. I had the undeniable feeling that something was inside of me. Something needing to be articulated, if only to myself. It’s the being heard part that’s hard though. But that’s just it; I need someone to hear this too, to validate it all. Am I seeking validation? Or is this just another way of being human? We are social creatures, after all. Dear God, is writing–an inherently solo activity–my idea of socializing? Am I artificially fulfilling that primitive human need? Perhaps. I wouldn’t put it past myself. This may backfire. Or not. Not all writers are depressed. Or bloggers. Or not-at-all-secret-journalers.
I am in this weird transition period in my life where nothing makes sense and I fear that I am not even myself. Every time I interact with people outside my home I experience this awkward transition time. It varies in how long it takes, but today it took about 20 minutes. I needed 20 minutes to adjust to needing to socialize and listen and interact. It’s a rough period of time where I don’t know what to do with my face or my hands. Is the corner of my mouth twitching? Should I be smiling right now? Are you even saying things that require a response, or can I just say, “uh huh.”? People say the most pointless things to one another. I think we all just want to be heard and validated.
“It’s the last day!” was the first thing I said, in reference to it being the last day of our cohort. I said it because it was the last day for all of us, and saying so marks a kind of shared celebration. Right? Or am I socially retarded? I thought this was obvious. Safe, boring, meaningless small talk. The kind of thing you say to show your coworkers you’re all in this together. Something like that.
But one of my more extroverted coworkers felt the need to take my comment to a fucking annoying extreme by asking for clarification as if what I’d just said made no sense to her: “last day of the year? last day of the month? last day for you? last day of the cohort? last day of what? what are you talking about?” She didn’t care what the answer was, as was evidenced by the fact that she kept blabbering, listing, asking. It was like she enjoyed listening to herself list all the possibilities. Begging to be heard.
I suddenly felt claustrophobic. Had I inadvertently entered her cluttered brain bubble and now couldn’t get out of the insane incessant questioning that would have otherwise lived in her head? How do you respond to that kind of shit? “Bitch, shut up” is not professional.
This is the worst kind of conversation to be stuck in. Especially on your last day. “All of the above,” is what I said, as jovially as I could muster. My mouth twitched a smile. What kind of game are we playing? Why are we even still talking? Just say “I know, I can’t believe it!” like a normal person. Stop asking inane questions. Fuck.
I shouldn’t be so upset about this, but two months of interactions like this cause me to not like the woman. Not even a little. She’s the kind of person who’s happy on a Monday morning, or loudly unhappy. Either way, you know what she’s feeling and she clearly needs to be heard.
Or maybe my distaste for her is a reflection of my own insecurities? Very possible. It’s happened before. It’s entirely possible that I subconsciously think she’s everything I want to be, but am fueled by jealousy and am blind to the fact that she’s awesome. Doubtful, but possible. We’re all blinded by things we can’t see. Maybe I’m actually just as annoying as she is. God, I hope not. Sorry if I am. This line of thought is not good for my depression. I’m already kicking myself for my life choices, completely demoralized and down on myself for being so goddamn average.
Idle time does this to a person. Drives them mad. But I have to write this all out because there’s this wonderful glimmer of optimism I feel that something good will come of it all. All this writing, which, let us take a moment to appreciate, is not the uninvited verbal blabbering it could be.
And writing about all this nothingness gives me a sense of accomplishment. To watch the word count jump into the 4-digit territory is what I need right now. It proves I did something today. Even if it was just connecting with mystery readers on the Internet through 2,158 words. I feel better now. Validated. Thank you.