Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Goal for the new year: Protecting my Morale

The new academic year is imminent. I am far, far from the headspace I would like to be in. I feel gutted and exhausted. Very, very empty. (Compounding this is the demise of my 6-year relationship...for real this time...I haven't blogged about it because I couldn't bear to add another thing to the litany of disasters, and because I also can't bear to write about it in this forum, but there you have it. It is a tragedy, and it has been devastating. And that's all I'll say about that.)

I need to be good to myself this year, if I am to pull myself out of this awful period. I don't trust the academic year to offer me many opportunities to be good to myself, though. And so my major goal - I have others, mostly having to do with the contradictory poles of high productivity and lack of stress, but this is my major one - is to save my morale. What's left of it.

The morale is shockingly low at Scary City University. Shockingly. People are so overworked and so unhappy that they become consumed with negativity about the place, their jobs. Their lives, sometimes. I have come to realize how corrosive this is for me. I need to do my best to avoid getting sucked into whining conversations at every turn. Sure, venting is important - and there is plenty to vent about, as I know all too well after a year in this awful place. But because I have so little here, so little life outside my work, my work already threatens to become everything. And if all I ever hear from anyone else about the work context is negativity, then it just casts the most awful pall over my life in general.

So I need to do whatever I can to avoid being eaten alive by other people's unhappiness. I have enough of my own - and I don't want even that, much less other people's. So this means closing my office door sometimes, it means making an effort to cultivate friends outside the university, it means declaring some get-togethers with friends from work to be "work-talk-free zones."

It also means making sure I have a life. I used to have a life outside my work.

So those are the most important goals for the new year. Picking up the pieces, really. Putting myself back together again, which requires some neutral energy and some distraction from Scary City Uni. This is, paradoxically, what I need from Scary City Uni this year - time and psychic space away from it and the sadness it creates in all of us.

14 comments:

Belle said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your relationship; that's hard enough (very) without the negativity in the Uni. Can you find a non-job-related warm fuzzy to help? I have dog school (starting this week, hooray) that provides me many puppy loves to comfort me, a shrink that listens wonderfully and my own sweet pups, and there're many times that's simply not enough.

Luck and good vibes your way Hilaire. Not to mention many hugs.
((((((((Hilaire)))))))))

Earnest English said...

Oh Hilaire, what an awful year. I'm so sorry about your relationship -- that seems to trump a lot of the other bad stuff that's happened recently (or maybe it's the icing on the cake). I think protecting yourself from other people's negativity is key -- or else it's going to be too easy to slide into a depression (well-earned, by the way, but let's avoid it anyway).

I would suggest doing things that make you feel, if not better, than at least strong. One thing I would mention is vitamins or supplements or whatever. I know these make a huge difference in how I feel even during super-stressful times. (I recently learned that B-1 is an especially good one for stress -- you can take up to six extras and not screw up your B balance too much -- and you can actually feel it.) Basically, try to be as healthy as you can so that even if you are reeling from all this terrible luck, at least you won't also be experiencing the physical aspects of lowered immune response and all that which will also make you feel like crap! Beyond that, i would also start investigating the kinds of things you could do in your free time that will make you feel good -- when the arm thing heals and the crutches are off, is there a dance class or painting class or activity something that you could plan to do that you historically loved?

I think you're doing great to be able to be stepping back and saying to yourself that you've got to watch your morale -- so I would just use that reflectiveness to add in things that will be more likely to keep you sane and okay during this yucky time.

{{{{{{{{{{{{Hilaire}}}}}}}}}}}}

medieval woman said...

H, you're amazing.

I'm emailing you...

K said...

Hilaire, I'm so sorry. Do take good care of yourself, and seek out others who will comfort and care for you.

Anonymous said...

Oh Hilaire, I am so so sorry to hear about all of this. Please take care of yourself... I am emailing you...

Pantagruelle said...

I'm so sorry about all this, especially the relationship part, which I expect is hardest of all. Hang in there and know that lots of people are thinking of you and sending good vibes and virtual hugs.
(((((Hilaire)))))

plam said...

I'm sorry to hear about the excess of suckitude that you're living. You've got the right plan though. Things have got to start getting better soon!

Susan said...

Maybe you will get all the gucky stuff over with this year. But I'm so sorry -- dealing with relationship stuff on top of all the physical stuff you've had, AND the toxic atmosphere at the UNI is just overwhelming.

I think you have a great plan. I found yoga and meditation really helped me deal with a negative work environment -- so I could hear things but not absorb them. But you have to find what works for you. . .
Good luck, and (((((Hilaire)))))

Hilaire said...

Thank you, all! Thank you for emails, too, some of you. :) You are right that the relationship stuff is hardest of all.

Belle, EE, others - Yes, I'm going to find some kind of activity. As you all know, I danced for many, many years. I miss it quite desperately. I think I'm going to take osme lessons in a new form - salsa or tango or something.

EE - Yes, vitamins! I'm going to get some B complex...I used to take it, and have fallen off the wagon with it. But it's so important. Thank you.

Susan - Yes, I'm hoping that I have finished my bad period now!! For years!! And I've thought about yoga and meditation...I'll see what kind of time I have left over after adding some dance, probably, and then pick myself out a good yoga space. :)

Marcelle Proust said...

". . . that pregnant and magnificent word, the summa of all despair: 'Merde. Merde. Merde. Merde. Merde.'" (Lawrence Durrell)

But maybe apply it in the dancer's sense, as well: as a hope . . .

Brigindo said...

I too am sorry about the demise of your relationship but I think I totally understand you not blogging about it. I'm finding that I really don't want to blog about the issue that's going on in my life.

Personally I'm trying detachment as a form of mental health for the new school year. I too was totally not in the right frame of mind to begin the school year but it began anyway. I know the work I need to do (this is tenure year) and am just putting my nose to the grindstone and detaching from all else.

I hope you can find solace outside of the work arena.

Maude Lebowski said...

oh hilaire, i send you hugs and well wishes along with everybody else. take care of yourself.

this post has made me think a lot about my job--i like how you described the atmosphere at your uni--"corrosive." you've inspired me to try not to get trapped in the negativity of my job. i think you need to spend this next year focusing on you--just you. i declare this the year of hilaire. we will all celebrate you and support your morale. i raise my coffee mug at this early hour for you!!

((((((((((((((hilaire)))))))))))))

What Now? said...

Hilaire -- I am so, so sorry to hear about the end of the relationship as the culmination of this terrible year. You really will have much to celebrate at New Year's this year, with the year finally over.

I think your plan to be very intentional about taking care of yourself this year is a great one. And certainly not getting sucked into the low morale at the U is part of that; my own experience at a miserable U was that the negativity was completely understandable but not at all helpful. Brief episodes of venting can help, but widespread low morale will just pull everyone down, and if you can find ways to avoid it and to get energy from folks outside of the system, so much the better.

You are incredibly strong, as this year has made clear, and that strength will pull you through into a better time.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Ugh. I'm so sorry about your crappy year! You have got to have used up all your bad luck by now, right??? Big hugs to you.