Positive dread sounds like a bunch of crap, but I spent way too much time trying to come up with an alternative. This is just who I am today.
The older I get, the more that I’m able to work through my feelings, process my emotions, and look at things with a more detached perspective. I was a Stage Five Clinger in so many aspects of my life for so many years. Being able to realize, in a healthy way, that I can only control myself? Well, it’s been my most welcome life lesson. (Read: I don’t panic about it.)
Life being life, that lesson also works in a different way: when something shows repeatedly that it doesn’t fit into the kind of life you want to build, it’s hard to justify keeping it around. When you’ve looked at something from all angles, when you’ve tried to glean every bit of the lessons its negativity can provide, and when you can’t change it from within…it may be time to walk away.
Post-pandemic, I was able to return to my original workplace, but my entire department had been eliminated. Thankfully, there was still a job for me, which meant the world to me then – and still does. Unfortunately, that job was operationally-based and as far from creative as I could get. PLUS, not only is the job type wildly different, I also entered it with no training. Trying to learn so many things that are so foreign to my brain, and having hours that are so irregular and so late? Yeah. Positive dread is where I landed.
I work with a great group of people – a large, great group of people. Despite our size, we work incredibly well together as a team, and laugh our way through the shifts. We problem-solve together, we help each other out, and we build each other up. There’s a lot of good-natured insults, well-received feedback, and toxicity is quickly handled and set aside.
There are SO MANY great things about our employees. I honestly can’t say enough. This industry has provided me the most positive professional experiences I’ve ever had. (And I’ve had a lot, if you know what I mean, wink.) And I’m learning a little more every day, even the days that seem overwhelming. Which leads me to…
This is a job that is for a whole lot of people, but I know to my core that I’m not one of them. I’m trying. I’m listening, right now, to a TED Talk called The Happy Secret to Better Work. I’m trying to remind myself that everyone feels overwhelmed when starting a job, and that this is all perfectly normal.
It’s just that I don’t enjoy the work. I just don’t enjoy operating…operationally. I don’t handle extreme structure well, and I don’t handle staying on top of data and operational needs well. Can I talk to the delivery person? Oh yeah. Can I remember where the things go and in what order and what about the invoice and am I sending it to all the people and why didn’t I remember this one part and what about inventory? Listen, no. Thank you, no please.
The Positive Dread
That’s what it is. It’s knowing that the people are going to absolutely make my day, and that the work is absolutely going to crush my spirit. It’s the reminders every day that, at least once, I’m going to miss something…that’s then going to act as a domino effect for several other things. It’s never knowing when I might leave work, but knowing that the chances are excellent that everyone in my house will be asleep when I get home. It’s being uplifted with every interaction I have with people, with loving those opportunities to meet new guests, but having absolutely nothing left in me when I leave.
So where does one go from this point? It’s certainly not a unique situation. How many people have we known who broke themselves working for the same place for years, for decades, but did it anyway? Maybe they felt like they had no options, maybe something that was meant to be temporary turned permanent. But the thing is, I already put in time doing years – 15 – in an industry that didn’t give me life in any way. A job where I punched a clock, counted things, packaged things, and punched the clock again. I don’t want to do that anymore.
If this resonates with you at all…well, the good news is that now you know you’re not alone. So many of us are finding our ways now in an altered landscape. But so many of us have also had the opportunity, the gift…of time. Of knowing what life CAN be. Of realizing that we can make it when the rug is pulled from under us.
So my best advice is the same that I will try to follow. Sit with yourself. LISTEN to yourself. This always seems to be the most effective for me in the shower. (r/ShowerThoughts is great for a reason.) And then jot down your self hot-take when you can. At the end of a few days, or a week, look for trends.
It’s you, telling you about you. And who else would know what’s best for your own life!?
Positive dread. It’s positively dreadful, sure…but it’s also impactful when you use its powers for good. Eventually, we can live lives of positive happiness. And a few painful lessons are definitely worth that outcome.