I came home tonight from work, absolutely exhausted. It was one of those crazy busy times at work where I was literally a one-woman unstoppable machine. I sent my boss a sign off message with a list of stuff I did one twelve-hour day with emoji ticks after each item and he simply replied with a picture of Wonder Woman. He was also flat out, shooting at a remote location, a nine hour drive from Melbourne.
This post isn’t a bitch about my job. I run a photography studio and event space, and I love my job. That’s a separate post, and not just one. This post is about what happens when I sometimes over work and don’t know how to relax.
It’s true. I’m not very good at relaxing, stopping, resting, etc. Heck! I don’t event sleep properly as I subconsciously tell myself that it’s a waste of time. Once upon a time I actually found myself at a series of doctors appointments because I was collapsing in the street for no apparent reason. One “alternative healthcare practitioner” even dared suggest to me that I was pushing myself too hard and was suffering from stress. I proceeded to argue with them and said that stress is not a bad thing as it motivates me to get shit did and that if I have enough time to complain then I’m clearly not working hard enough.
These days I’m trying to be a little kinder to myself and make myself take time out and do nothing. I do read the studies about stress and its many ill effects on the human body but it’s a real battle with my mindset. As this resting thing is still foreign to me and very much a forced behavior I do find myself in these over worked episodes quite frequently. My demanding job is only part of the overall madness of my work/life balance. I’m also a practicing artist, freelance arts manager, in several artist-run collectives, I exercise, play Dungeons and Dragons (D&D), have an active social life, a fur-son, live with my brilliant partner and write for the fabulous Yankee Doodles. These are all great activities and I actively choose to be this busy. But every once in a while I act like a crazy person and that’s how I know, its probs time to take it easy.
Tonight, I came home late and plopped myself on the couch. I couldn’t really focus on proper conversation with my partner about my day or my latest rejection from yet another gallery. I don’t think I even asked him about his day and my heart really wasn’t even in it when my fun-son wanted to play. We had finished our latest show, UnREAL (its amazing, seriously don’t even bother reading the rest of this post, go and watch it now). I was pissed off at my arts practice because of the most recent rejection. I didn’t want dinner because I scoffed two cheesymite scrolls (a brilliant Aussie bread roll treat with cheese and vegemite popular among school-aged children) on the way home. So I decided to take a long hot bath.
I was trying to act on what I had learned about taking time out, but of course, I failed because I started my relaxing bath by first bleaching and scrubbing my entire bathroom and shower. I live in a shabby chic retro place that has a super old and satisfying bathroom to clean. About 20 minutes later, I realized I still wasn’t relaxing so I stopped with the scrubbing and ran the bath.
Finally submerged in the bath with my hands idle, my mind began again with the crazy need to be productive feels and I reached for my phone. I became fixated on the idea of getting a new shower curtain. Not just any curtain – but the most perfect shower curtain that ever existed! I needed one that summarizes my personality perfectly but not with too much effort and just enough Northern Melbourne suburbs’ wit and irony. Before I knew what was going on, I was considering different hanging mechanisms, fabrics, sizes and all this done conveniently online – from the Internet to my very own bathtub. I had, in all seriousness, convinced myself that $40AU ($31US/ £24) was a perfectly reasonable amount to spend on a shower curtain. The fixation only became apparent in the cold light of my icy cold bath water.
I did buy the vintage vermouth martini print shower curtain for $40 and I’m sure we’ll be very happy together once it’s delivered in 7 to 10 business days. But now that I’ve calmed down from the crazy fixated need to find the perfect silly thing, I do wonder if I would have been happier with something more basic that didn’t take over my brain. My inability to relax manifested into obsessing on something completely stupid and redundant.
This is really a modern day cautionary tale, the moral of which is simple and worth to remember. The moral of the story is that if you over work yourself, you will end up buying over priced domestic junk. Or in other words, make sure to rest your brain, or it will malfunction. A bath time cautionary tale for the overworked.