First week back at work under my belt and I am not exaggerating to say that on the way home from my first day in the office, I stopped and bought half a case of wine. The next morning, the cats woke me up at 5am and I failed to get back to sleep for the next two hours because I was worrying about work. When I sat down to work at 8am, I immediately wanted to go back to sleep. There is a little knot of something hiding just behind my ribs, to which my response was not ‘Oh what’s that?’ but ‘Oh, it’s back.’
I thought that the way I felt at the end of last year was due to it being the end of a stressful year. I had a solid break at Christmas, I didn’t get ill, I barely left the house, I slept and read and relaxed and did a pretty good job of losing track of the days and living in the now. My main concern was ‘Is it too early to open Prosecco?’ (Of course not, it’s never too early to open Prosecco.)
So I just about have enough critical distance left to hold my symptoms up to the light and say ‘That’s work related anxiety, that is.’
And it can fuck off. I’m not having it. It infuriates me that my job, which is essentially a transactional relationship, can have such a negative effect on me. It feels very much like the oldest profession in the world: I get fucked over and then paid for it. You might say that I work in the corporate world so I asked for it. I couldn’t say you’d be wrong. The salary and the car allowance and the bonus package are what I get for continuing to participate in an abusive relationship.
But, the salary and the car allowance and the bonus package don’t cut it any more. Last year, alert to the fact that I’d be very lucky to match that deal even in London, I panicked and stayed put. This year? I’m older and less risk averse. So I’m thinking, suck up the pay cut. Could I work part time? Could I get my own business of some kind off the ground? Can I build a portfolio career that keeps me afloat and lets me work from home most of the time? And if I try it, and fail…? Well, then, so be it.
So: I’m registered with recruitment agencies; I’m heading to a networking event in a couple of weeks; a friend has put me in touch with one of her friends about one of the ideas I had, and my sister has a contact for me too. It’s not coincidental that I’m tapping into a network of capable and competent women, because they are the people who immediately come up with the practical and actionable advice.
It could be a year of big change. It could be a year in which I fall hard, and retire to lick my wounds. But if I’m going to suffer anxiety anyway, then I’ll damn well inflict it on myself.