Following several long and thoughtful motorway journeys which indulged my tendency to over-think everything currently wrong in my life, and the prescient publication of this article by Oliver Burkeman (“do you have a bullshit job?”), I have reached the following diagrammatic conclusion:
This little thought-map is transcribed below for the benefit of (hmmm… ) myself mainly, and other readers if I still have any beyond my opening self-indulgent sentence, which probably has all the magnetic appeal of your least favourite neighbour enthusiastically trying to tell you about his dream last night. Anyway, my logic runs as follows:
I hate my job (IHMJ) –> BECAUSE –> The work is meaningless and pointless as a broken pencil
AND –> It is a BS job which no one would miss if it wasn’t there… in fact most of my immediate team are doing stuff no one [beyond our headquarters colleagues] would miss, if at all
AND –> my old job paid more and was psychologically rewarding in terms of mastering a useful skill and improving stuff in real terms
BUT NOW –> it’s not either of those things
WHICH CAUSES –> “psychological violence”, a knotting in the stomach, a sense of doom, and most importantly (agreeing with above Burkeman article) how can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?
THUS –> I am becoming desperately energetic and almost manic in other parts of my life, determined to feed the “make a difference” monster which lurks in my psyche, and to compensate for the fact that IHMJ
THEREFORE –> At home in the last month I have: made-over a desk, built a window seat from reclaimed and found materials, made a boxed and buttoned seat cushion from an old padded headboard, photographed and catalogued all my clothes to go on my Stylebook app, redecorated the big bedroom, made-over another, smaller desk, and made a cosy curtained bed for the youngest. (and that’s only the things I can remember)
HOWEVER –> I am still not satisfied or able to enjoy my efforts
BECAUSE –> I still HMJ … and I don’t know what to do about it.
Clearly, being busy in other life areas does not solve the problem. At the moment, I am consciously deciding not to do anything about it.
Does it matter? OK, so it’s not good that the psychological contract I used to have with my organisation is broken: pay and intellectual reward for doing things I’m good at, has been replaced by less pay and no intellectual reward for busywork which I can’t see the point in. However, “someone” (apparently) can see the point of the work. I’m still employed. I can still keep my family warm and well fed. I can still create and make a difference in other areas of my life. I’m not leaching off the state via the benefits system. I’m not revolting. I’m still buying crap I don’t need in order to support our capitalist economy. But if How We Spend Our Days = How We Spend Our Lives, it’s a bit of a waste.
Soul-destroying? Maybe. Sometimes.
Like the “Clarkson” (TV chat show) studio graphic of the world map, with a big blank where the USA should be, my mental image of my week day has a great big blank empty space between arriving and leaving the office. I cease to exist – at best, I go a bit watery and see-through, like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future. It’s not really me though. Metaphorically speaking, my “why chromosome” has to be deposited in a locker between the car park and the staff entrance because I feel it’s no longer welcome on the office floor.