Thursday, March 26, 2009

hanging by a thread

Subtitled: Confessions of a Burnout

I arrived at work today in an unironed shirt and unkempt hair (or as unkempt as possible with really short hair). This morning, I woke up to find a mountain standing between my bedroom and the bathroom. I had to climb up and rappel down just to get to work on time.

In between scrubbing and dreaming, I wondered when I started becoming just like everyone else. When did I go from loving my job and my life and everything in it* to equating my nine-hour shift to a slow and painful death. Surely, there must have been a time when I enjoyed going to work. Sadly, those days are gone. It's like I'm alive but I'm in a coma. I barely have the strength to find socks that match. Where would I find the strength to find happiness in my job?

This past week has been really stressful. I feel like I'm seriously starting to fray at the seams. I used to be really nice and polite and stuff until I realized I wasn't anymore. I had become Hitler in class. I wasn't smiling. I was putting noisy people on the spot. I was being sarcastic. I was being un-me.

This guy in my class came up to me and told me that I was being mean. He said it was a joke but I could tell that he meant it. I wanted to tell him that I wasn't doing it on purpose. That I was just tired. That I was stressed. That I need a vacation. I just pursed my lips and managed a fake smile. I couldn't tell him what was wrong. Truth is, I just don't have the same patience and passion I once had for this job. It means less now. Technically, I'm still doing my job. The trainees are still learning. I show up on time and I give it my all (or as much as I can). There's just one thing missing. I seem to have misplaced my heart.

I was surprised to find that I had nothing to do today. After two straight days of what felt like hand-to-hand combat, I was finally free. I wasn't scheduled for any classes so I took my time getting ready. It felt good not to rush. I got coffee, checked my email and chatted a little. Normally, I would look for some random class or ask if anyone needed me but like I said, I wasn't me anymore.

I got a little hungry so I went downstairs to get a snack. In the elevator, I smelled something really familiar. I once read that the human nose can recognize up to 10,000 unique scents. I struggled to trace the origins of this particular one. What is it and why is it so familiar?, I wondered. Somewhere between the seventh and fourth floor, I realized it was Woodspice- my father's aftershave. I closed my eyes and let the thick scent fill my head.

Suddenly, I was six years old in a Garfield t-shirt and shorts. I slowly opened the door to my parents' bedroom- just a crack small enough for me to see if they were still there. I could see my mother sitting in front of her dresser putting make-up on. I could smell my father's aftershave from their walk-in closet. In a few minutes, they would be off to work and I could watch TV in their room.

It's funny how work seems like such a magical place to a child. I used to think everybody who worked carried briefcases and smelled like Woodspice. I remember I couldn't wait to grow up and start working because I, too wanted to start carrying briefcases and wearing fancy aftershave. A couple of times, I even tried on my dad's ties and pretended I was late for this fancy meeting. I would address my stuffed animals and roll out complicated policies only I understood. I miss being naive like that.

As quickly as the memory rushed into my head, it suddenly evanesced. The elevator dinged, signaling my arrival at the ground floor. I got off, straightened my shirt and tried my hardest to blend in. I was no longer in my father's closet playing dress-up. This was for real. In lieu of a briefcase, I carried distrust and grudges. Instead of smelling like aftershave, I smelled like disloyalty and thoughts of flight. This was not my childish imagination anymore. I was at work and I was in hell.

It's getting late. I really should be getting some sleep. I pray for a good night's rest and hope that tomorrow, I would find the courage to click Apply Now.


  1. I don't blame you for feeling that way. Remember my blog about jewels wafting in a sea of mud and dung? Everyone feels that way once in a while. That's what we call "stress". You just need to work around what you're feeling. Find something that will help you destress. Buy and read a new book. Watch a movie alone. Write something different. Go on a vacation.

    Resigning and looking for something else is not the solution.

  2. diversion lang katapat niyan...

    pag nagiging routine na kasi ang mga eksena mo sa araw araw... nakakasawa talaga....

  3. changing career path is indeed a very good option, its been a trend in my life that after a year of working in a company i would file my resignation but i know its not good

  4. i felt burned out too, months back. If you can afford it, tryn dropping everything, as in evrything... hehehehehe. A mini vacay does wonders. Some rest peace and quiet to still the soul and recharge your steam... goodluck!

  5. Nyl... I feel sad. Haay. But I agree, I think you just need a vacation, like a long one. The office won't be the same without you. :-(

  6. Having something to look forward to helps. If you can't think of something like that in your workplace, look for it somewhere else.

  7. change is inevitable. we still love you bebe. and please dont watch THE KNOWING kung may plano kang manood ng sine! hehe

  8. kakagulat! ang daming reply! thanks guys. natouch naman ako.

    @apol i agree. maybe it's just the routine that bugs me. or maybe I just miss our little foursome. :c

    @yj thanks for dropping by! i need a mega diversion. any ideas? ayoko mag-resign. napag-isip isip ko na

    @gram math once palang nangyari to sakin before and yeah, i resigned. haha ayoko muna. i need to learn to find contentment.

    @luis thanks for dropping by din. for some strange reason, masaya ako today kahit sabado at nasa office ako. contenment lang talaga ang kailangan ko.

    @juber thanks! alam mo namang the feeling is mutual. love u friend!

    @niel ooh that's intriguing. saya mo kasi may passion ka sa dolls mo eh. ako walang ganon. :c gagawa nga rin ako ng comics.. pero imbis na dolls... hmm... hmmm... wala ako maisip.

    @herbs that bad? sige.. i'll wait nalang sa dvd. re:change.. yeah it is inevitable pero parang ang hirap naman na everytime may discomfort, alis na agad ako. kaya ko to!

    thanks again guys!

  9. "I was no longer in my father's closet playing dress-up. "

    aww nyl...
    wouldnt it be nice to stay a child forever? Damn, i'm gonna start talking about holden and his field of rye.

    let's copy Russ and do the mantra together:

  10. (screming) ilovemyjobilovemyjobilovemyjobilovemyjobilovemyjob

    hehe i think i'm better now. i just needed to relax a little. i'm gonna get a vacation pretty soon so i won't get burnt out.

    thanks for introducing me to catcher.. it really changed my view on a lot of things.

  11. With 10,000 scents, it is hard to then discover that the human's capacity for scent is crippled as compared to other mammals -- our ability to think abstractly and feel has limited us to only about 10,000 scents. It is somewhat tragic. On the other hand, consider that with such a limitation on our ability to smell, we have exchanged it for tremendous capacities of abstract thinking and feeling. Truly amazing.

  12. it really is amazing. i guess it's because we don't really have a need for more than 10,000 scents. i wouldn't trade in my thoughts or feelings for more scents. aanhin ko naman yun?