When you don’t like the person you’ve become

Thursday, October 18, 2018 Permalink

I’ve spent a lot of my life not liking myself. Not thinking myself worthy of love, relationships, success, happiness. You know, the usual stuff. But it was only recently I disliked the kind of person I’d become. (#spoileralert: it’s fixable. I think!)

Although life post my seachange didn’t quite go as expected – ie. I found it bloody hard to get a job; I eventually fell on my feet. I had a part-time gig which was almost perfect: Financially it was fine; though I felt like my mind was melting and I was deskilling. (More so than when I was not working, which was interesting.)

Then this project gig came up. It was only a couple of levels lower than my pre-seachange salary. So LOTS more money than I’d been earning. And though it was full-time it was only for one year. Naturally I’d hoped for an extension but one I could negotiate to part-time.

It kicked off just over a year ago and the job itself gave me enough intellectual challenge (more in a problem-solving way than a stretching my mind way) that it seemed like a marriage made in heaven. Or similar.

But things got stressful. And ugly. And I felt as if everyone thought I was doing a crappy job – indeed I assumed they thought I was. When, the sane part of me recognises that almost everyone only had positive things to say about my work.

Nevertheless my confidence felt undermined and I went into obsessive mode and kept plugging away as much as possible. I tend to thrive on a challenge but – in this instance – just really became more and more manic.

I could see it happening and I was falling back into old patterns of (a lack of) work / life balance I’d had pre-seachange. Binge-eating. Drinking wine on weeknights. Not wanting to do anything outside of work. Feeling really overwhelmed constantly and a bit of a mess. Mostly I was able to hide that. I whinged on social media but only my mother saw the complete meltdown.

work stress

Via Rebel Circus

More than that though I’d become this whining friggin’ victim who was all doom and gloom and filled with self-pity. I knew I was doing it but did it anyway. I was acting like a martyr. How wonderful am I that I’m all stressed and having an emotional breakdown of sorts?

I mean I didn’t, but….

Part of that contemplation led to the post I wrote a month or two ago. When it seemed no extension of the position would be possible and I started working out whether I wanted to continue trying to find a job at a similar level and stay in the full-time workforce and be able to live financially comfortably.

Or whether I wanted to cut back, have less stress, more time to write and actually like myself as a person again.

It sounds like a no-brainer doesn’t it? It certainly should be.

Is the money and comfortable lifestyle really worth it?

** Interestingly I drafted this (above) on my Italian holiday, while at the writing retreat. One of the things I really wanted to work out was whether I was brave enough to ditch the pursuit of money (well, pursuing jobs only because they pay well) and follow my heart. 

It still seems like a no-brainer, but I know that I’ve often done the latter but then found myself unfulfilled or bored. AND stressing about money. **

But this post wasn’t meant to be about that next step for me. It was about recognising that you’ve become someone you really don’t like. Someone you really don’t want to be.

Have you ever had that experience? What did you do about it?

The Lovin’ Life team includes:

23 Comments
  • Sydney Shop Girl
    October 18, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this, Deb. When I get busy and stressed, I do shut down and go into survival mode. There’s a sense of duty and obligation that keeps me going. I find myself also treating myself to ‘stuff’ because I ‘deserve it’. I’m trying to shift the self gifting to more mind based gifts like a few minutes to do some yoga or to sleep in or just faff about for a bit.

    SSG xxx

    • Debbish
      October 18, 2018

      I had really early nights and kept up my pilates lessons etc but tend to become just really fraught (or at least very tightly wound) when it continues for too long.

  • writeofthemiddle
    October 18, 2018

    I don’t cope with stress and being overly busy anymore. Considering I used to be extremely mega organised and a highly skilled multitasker, I’m pretty convinced it all ties in with perimenopause etc. I know I bang on about that alot but sadly it’s proving to be true and that a lot of how I am now is due to the hormonal changes experienced at this time of life. It’s changed me in a lot of ways. It’s proving to be a rough time for me and I believe it probably is for many women in the 50+ age bracket though there are those that seem to glide through this stuff without any speed bumps at all. Unfortunately I’m not one of them! I hope you find the right balance for you – a nice job that challenges you – enough income to live comfortably – but on part-time hours! #TeamLovinLife

    • Debbish
      October 18, 2018

      I think there’s a line for me. I hype up on a bit of pressure and get a bit manic but if it continues beyond days or weeks then I think it becomes problematic for me. And of course I’m not great at asking for help. I really felt like I was quite revolting during that time and occasionally spoke to colleagues and apologised if I’d been a bit short with them and they didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. But I felt very stressed…

  • Vanessa
    October 18, 2018

    My job pays my bills but it’s not challenging me at all. I’m so bored. I miss using my brain. And I’m getting nowhere in finding a more challenging job. So I don’t dislike who I’ve become as such, but I’m craving a lot more than what I have.

    • Debbish
      October 18, 2018

      The permanent part-time job I was in before (having) to give it up to take on the full-time project was like that. It was soul destroying though… wasn’t a priority for anyone. I’d talked to my boss at the time about taking on some extra stuff and doing some project work (for the same pay etc) but he was reticent to take on more stuff.

      If I hadn’t had to resign from that I could have returned to it now. That old boss has gone so not sure if things would have changed. (The boss was fine, just awaiting retirement and biding time.)

  • leannelc
    October 18, 2018

    I know that I’m more than capable of working in a more demanding field, but I made a conscious choice that quality of life and less stress was preferable to more money. I think you have to find a sweet spot where your spending/earning is balanced with your mental/emotional well-being. For me it means I don’t buy expensive things, but I still have more than enough – I’ve reduced my wants and my part-time income covers everything. I’d never go back to full-time work at this age and stage – I’m worth more than throwing my week days away building someone else’s business. I hope you find your sweet spot soon and can feel the contentment and satisfaction that comes with that.

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      Thanks Leanne. I often think I’d be fine with less but then look around my house and realise I’d like to do something with the dodgy patio and steps or perhaps have another overseas holiday and wonder if I could do that on much less $. (Having said that it might get to the point that any income is better than none!)

  • Jo
    October 18, 2018

    I’m in a stage of overwhelm again at the moment & looking for ways through it. I’m conscious that I’m not as present as I should be & that creatively I’m blocked & from a business viewpoint frustrated. I recognise it, but as yet I haven’t worked out what to do about it. A quote I used for this weeks corporate newlstter was: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude to it. I’m still in the attempting to change it mindset.

    • Denyse Whelan
      October 19, 2018

      Very tough practising what you preach when you would “rather” not even be corporate…it’s a mixed blessing, this work gig, isn’t it? I so understand ….sending unravelling the stress vibes. Denyse xx

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      I think I was able to do that over the past year re the full-time gig. I knew it was only one year and good money so I put away $ for my holiday and prepaid bills and bought some frivolous stuff… so even though it felt overwhelming at times I could tell myself it was short term and good money.

      It was really only the last month or two that I struggled with my own perfectionist kind of attitude and feeling as if I wasn’t living up to others’ expectations etc… and it really undermined my own confidence.

      I hope you can adjust the mindset… or better still your books will start selling like hotcakes and you can be a full-time author! xx

  • Kathy Marris
    October 18, 2018

    Personal happiness and fulfilment is always better than a ton of money. When you are stressed out every part of you suffers – your mental health, your physical health, your family and friends, and your feelings of self-worth. I’ve always been an advocate of part-time work, because at least it allows you a little balance into your life. But in saying that for some this is not a choice. I hope you find the balance that’s right for you Deb.

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      Ah yes, I realise part of it will be luck – or something coming up at the right time – but part will be me accepting that I’ve made a conscious decision NOT to pursue something more ambitious professionally for the sake of my sanity… or at least my creativity!

  • Satu
    October 18, 2018

    Well, I had a similar experince when I still was working in academia. It was very stressfull and I eventually left. Unfortunately it didn’ty end well for me – I found it very hard to get a new job and it was difficult for me to even look for one because I felt so demoralized by my experience. Not having money /things to do/social contacts just made me more and more miserable and depressed. (Eventually I studied for a new profession (it related) and am currently looking for a new job because my temporary job ends tomorrow – in case you’re curious :)).

    What comes to work stress, as I age I’m more aware how I create part of my own stress – with perfectionism and insecurity. My job in academia was certainly stressfull, but it was made even more so because of my perfectionism/insecurity issues. I have sworn to be more vigilant about that in the future, but it is hard to know how easy it will be when I’m next in a job that is stressful.

    To me, having money is certainly important – I didn’t have much of a life when all I could do is sit in my apartment doing nothing because I didn’t have money to do anything.

    I do still crave the intellectual stimulation the academic world could offer…

    To wrap it up, I think you need to consider not only the work stress and money issues, but also other things that a full-time job can offer – like social and intellectual stimulation – when you decide what to do.

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      Oh Satu, I love this – not what you went through or the fact your current job is finishing – but because I can so relate and I know you completely understand this.

      Your comments about perfectionism and insecurity are so spot on. Logically I know the funding for my project finished but there was a big part of me that felt as if ‘the powers that be’ had decided I’d done a crappy job and chose not to keep me. In reality I got good feedback but it’s easy to let the doubt creep in.

      And I remember your life in academia. I’m glad you’re out of that but also understand how that experience can impact on our confidence and mental wellbeing.

      And the money thing is so true. Before I found the part-time job a few years ago I felt like I couldn’t go and do things that cost money because I didn’t have the money to spare. It’ll be interesting so see how long I go before I start to panic about that this time around.

      I wish you only the best at finding another great opportunity!!! xxx

  • Jodie
    October 18, 2018

    It’s amazing how stress/the job can change who you are…just a little each day so you don’t even realize it. That was how it was when I was a dentist…it was the fact I was a boss. I’m a terrible boss. And as much as I know it, it’s not easy to change. It’s that control thing.
    So I’m a much nicer person now that i’m retired. And doing this fashion blogging…except my mom and Nancy can tell you how i’m not always perfect…ha ha!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      I’ve had a lot of comments about how happy I looked on my holiday and it’s a reminder that I must have been looking pretty bedraggled before that. Or at least worn-down.

      I like myself much better now as well… well I will as soon as my sore glute mends and I can sit properly (and my post-flu headache disappears!)

  • Natalie
    October 19, 2018

    I agreed with Kathy’s comment above. I hope you find something suitable and more balanced. #teamlovinlife

  • Denyse Whelan
    October 19, 2018

    I need a conversation with you. I so do. I cannot write all I want to say other than I understand and could see this for months in your updates. I felt a bit like your lovely Mum must have been…so want you to like yourself and to see the value of you in others’ lives but a very rigid thinking mode is stopping you connecting. So sorry. Hope that as time passes, you can see some slivers of hope and sunshine in your life. Sending love. Denyse x

    • Debbish
      October 20, 2018

      I’m teary just reading this Denyse. Thank you for your kind words. It’s funny my mum (and my dad) were both very responsible in their jobs and lives and I’d think normally my mother would frown on me making frivolous decisions about wanting balance over stability or security but I think she also saw what I was going through. And naturally she was always on my side when I was ranting about work stuff and in tears etc….

  • Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit
    October 22, 2018

    Yes. I’m going through it now. Not ready to write about it yet though. But yes.

    • Debbish
      October 22, 2018

      Hope you get to the point you can write about it, or at least distance yourself a little. xx

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