Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Where are you and where are you going?
OTCW
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by OTCW »

It's a journey, not a destination. A little platitude there to remind you to just enjoy the ride. You seem smart enough to do whatever it is you want, just need to find it.

niemand
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by niemand »

TopHatFox wrote:
Thu May 02, 2019 5:45 pm
... identify what I should include more of in a life, and what I should avoid!
... and if it can’t be avoided (because not everything can!) then maybe strive to learn how to accept it and/or learn strategies to deal with it?

If you were a counsellor/coach/mentor, what would you tell someone when they came to you with issues like yours? Would you be able to help them? Or would you tell them to quit their job and studies and skip town as if this was the solution to make the real underlying issue(s) disappear?

If you were receiving some counsel would you reject it outright because you know you know better? Do you have no blind spots?

I’ve given you some simple ideas to deal with your work situation (and a hint that larger issues may be at play). The workload strategies have been +1ed by Scott and C40. Will you consider the advice?

Please take the above on the context that I’m meaning you well and wishing you the best THF.

TopHatFox
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by TopHatFox »

Yeah, agreed, or work through it, find ways to cope or make the situation better. I’d say hard work and perseverance are paramount, just as much as putting them to work in the most fitting paths as you identify better fitting paths (or new ones) over time.

-----------

I think what you're saying is actually really important. If you frequent thru-hiking forums, many young thru-hikers experience severe depression after finishing the hike. Many of the cited reasons involve not having a role to play in society, nor the money offering flexibility to explore different paths. Some of them kill themselves afterwards, in fact. The ones that experience these feelings less seem to be the ones that already had a compatible life before the hike to go back to, rather than the ones using the hike as an escape.

I think the work I'm doing now -- of determining what role and places in the world are compatible with my being -- is some of the most important work that can be done for an individual. By comparison, van living or thru-hiking almost seems easy, in the sense that the goal is clear, there's already a pre-established community, and you don't need advanced credentials to do it.

And I'd say I'm actually doing much better than I was last year haha. With only 55K, living in a shitty apartment in NYC, no idea what to get an advanced degree in, a messed up jaw, and thinking working in finance was the answer for me. :lol:

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RFS
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by RFS »

I'm glad you're taking a step back to take stock of what you've accomplished already. I am in a similar situation, having acquired some FU money and an infinitely better big-picture scenario than 3-5 years ago. It sometimes blows my mind to think that there were days in my old job that I didn't like at all, deep in student loan debt, where I felt better than I do now. I guess that speaks to the power of perspective and having a good process.

Also, as a means for figuring out those high-level, "what do I do with my life?" questions, I strongly suggest setting the bar for improving your life low enough (this is different for everyone, but if you think about it, your brain will tell you what you need to do.) I find that when I do a good job of ruling myself on the "little" things, the big things fall into place.

niemand
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by niemand »

As you are contemplating your future life, I hope you will avoid the mistake to believe that there could be some external condition that will make you happy/content.

In the end it doesn’t matter where, what or who we are, we can’t avoid suffering - all we can do is choose how to respond. All said and done, happiness/contentment is an internal condition and it is now.

If you learn the right internal coping strategies that enable you to make the now negative a non-negative, then you’ll be fine no matter where you are or what you do.
Have you read Man's Search for Meaning?

bigato
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by bigato »

Well, external conditions *are* relevant to well being and no amount of coping will make up for a bad enough environment. That said, I agree on the general idea that being more resilient is a very useful skill to have because the environment is often out of our control.

niemand
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by niemand »

Yes, external conditions relevant, but they are only one component, not the solution and not sufficient on their own for contentment.

TopHatFox
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by TopHatFox »

MAY 2019: A Fork in the Road?

One of my co-workers came to my desk mad that I hadn't done an assignment. Even when I pointed out that I had 20 million other assignments from 30 other people to take care of, they persisted, pointing out that a few of those other assignments weren't done either. So, I felt pinned to the wall and shared that I was depressed. Then we had a conversation with the boss about maybe trying to distribute the workload and maybe getting on anti-depressants. The conversation was friendly and I'm actually quite surprised to learn that the boss also suffered from depression for years.

I don't think I'd be able to continue this role without anti-depressants, but I don't want to be on anti-depressants to be able to feel okay doing my job, and I also don't think the work distribution will really have a manageable difference in my work load. The position just seems high-stress by nature. On top of that, the free masters I've been getting is in administration, and clearly administration is not for me.

Don't really know what to do now. Maybe put in my two weeks, take the GRE, and finally apply and get into a good school for psychology or counseling, as well as AC fellowships to pay for it?

Feeling so lost. The path to success sure likes to meander.

-------------

I was able to last a year, which is an improvement from last time. Yet, I have so much fear that I'll never really be able to hold down a job, certainly not a normal office one. But I also feel clueless as to other ways of making a living, feeling content long-term, and saving. I could use help.

daylen
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by daylen »

You have probably considered this, but why not get a more labor intensive job? How about an apprenticeship or a part-time cleaning job? Exercise and low stress work may help the depression.

daylen
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by daylen »

All the psychologists or counselors I know are miserable as fuck. Maybe the job attracts depressed people or makes people depressed. Seems like a bit of both.

Wash dishes a few days a week at a restaurant or something. Get a low status job and reap dividends not caring what others think.

Jean
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Jean »

I was about to suggest work in construction, but daylen was faster.

Smashter
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Smashter »

Sorry to hear that. I'd move west and try out a different kind of job.

Kriegsspiel
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Kriegsspiel »

TopHatFox wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 7:58 am
MAY 2019: A Fork in the Road?

One of my co-workers came to my desk mad that I hadn't done an assignment. Even when I pointed out that I had 20 million other assignments from 30 other people to take care of, they persisted, pointing out that a few of those other assignments weren't done either. So, I felt pinned to the wall and shared that I was depressed. Then we had a conversation with the boss about maybe trying to distribute the workload and maybe getting on anti-depressants. The conversation was friendly and I'm actually quite surprised to learn that the boss also suffered from depression for years.

I don't think I'd be able to continue this role without anti-depressants, but I don't want to be on anti-depressants to be able to feel okay doing my job,
I suggest never admitting stuff like that to co-workers. Zero upside, unless you count being pitied.
and I also don't think the work distribution will really have a manageable difference in my work load. The position just seems high-stress by nature. On top of that, the free masters I've been getting is in administration, and clearly administration is not for me.

Don't really know what to do now. Maybe put in my two weeks, take the GRE, and finally apply and get into a good school for psychology or counseling, as well as AC fellowships to pay for it?

Feeling so lost. The path to success sure likes to meander.
Gotta roll with the times :lol: . Look at this Ran Prieur quote from 2006:
How to subvert your job?

The worst way is to try to preach to your co-workers. The best way is just by thinking about stuff other than your job on time they're paying you for. You've got to build a sense of your own value and identity that has nothing to do with how you make your money. And if you let other people at your job see that, some of them might be inspired. The next step is to use job time to work on personal projects. People think Einstein was smart. He was just lucky -- he had that great patent office job that gave him a steady income and hours every day to do his own stuff.

Where are these "low pay, low status, easy" jobs?

Well, when I say "low," I don't mean Wal-Mart low. I'm thinking of low-end "professional" jobs, where you have a cubicle or maybe even a tiny office, and you can get away with doing four hours of work in an eight hour day. Of course you'll never get promoted, but you don't want to be! Those jobs are out there. The problem is there's no way to ask for them. If your job is too stressful, look for another one. Repeat until you get lucky. And go for boring over cool. A job at a video game company is likely to work you to death. The best job I ever had was as the flunky office boy for a lease administration office. Here's a great page of advice from Dan, How to find your Dream Job (dead link).

Also, Robert comments:
...in 1998 I quit my bank analyst job with plans to start my business. I had about nine months of savings and time to play with before my expected opening date, so I got an $8.25/hour office job pulling faxes and routing calls. I worked about four hours a day at my "job" and four hours a day surfing the Internet, making calls, formulating strategies, in connection with starting up my import business. And those people in that office thought I was the most efficient and capable person ever to have that position.

And Patricia comments:
Colleges are good places to find those "four hours work / four hours net surfing" kinds of jobs. Anything with "administrative" in the title will usually qualify. If you have the right attitude ("I'm just here putting in time to get cash for a couple years") then they are also low-stress. People around you may be stressy, but you can learn to let that roll off your back.


And Jason comments:
Don't overlook security guards! The hardest thing about it is filling a twelve hour shift, and you learn a lot of stuff that helps you stay under the radar. The ideal job is where you sit in a shack with (monitored) internet access and check people in and out on the night shift. I also get a preview of what's coming for society, and get to test it now (tin foil does a great job of blocking an RFID badge). Before you apply know that your fingerprints will be put in the FBI files.
I was able to last a year, which is an improvement from last time. Yet, I have so much fear that I'll never really be able to hold down a job, certainly not a normal office one. But I also feel clueless as to other ways of making a living, feeling content long-term, and saving. I could use help.
Blue collar work. Once you get past the mental block of thinking you need to push paper or do something "smart," you can find a whole bunch of jobs that you might enjoy working at. I've said it before, but since you like hiking so much, you might like surveying. A survey company near me is hiring, let me know if you want some info.

TopHatFox
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by TopHatFox »

@Kriegspeil, now that the surgery and braces are done, I'm open to trying blue-collar work somewhere else, sure. I've tried a lot of white collar work, mostly the stressful kind, and that hasn't been good no matter how hard I try, but maybe blue collar work would work. I'd like some info please : )

At the very least I'm learning about what does and doesn't work in these different 'iterations,' but damn is it intense work.

daylen
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by daylen »

No info. Go in blind with an anti-fragile attitude.

Actually, do just a tiny bit of research, but do not look very deep. Use an optimal stopping algorithm. You do not have all the necessary information to make a robust choice.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimal_stopping
Last edited by daylen on Fri May 17, 2019 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Ego
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by Ego »

Whoa, slow down.

We all go through situations like this from time to time. It is certainly hard when things like this happen. Consider that you might be catastrophizing.

https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-catastrophizing/

Is one coworker complaining about an unfinished project a good reason to rethink your entire life trajectory?

You are a good person. You are smart. You work hard. You want to do a good job. These are the hallmarks of a good employee.

It is critically important to have someone in your real non-internet life who can remind you of those facts every so often.

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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by sky »

Management is never happy. Workers never do enough. Your response should be, "I'm doing the best that I can", and ask for help. Don't let them wear you down.

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unemployable
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by unemployable »

Wow. I would be a lot more careful about bringing up (potential) medical issues, especially if they're not formally diagnosed. Many years ago I played that exact same card, mentioning depression even, at a temporary job. They fired me by the end of the week, although the agency kept me on. The company's customers do not care what kind of mood you're in, they want a deliverable.

I suspect you already see the problems with letting your boss also act as doctor.

I would just be factual with your supervisors -- you have been given more work than you have time to handle, and this is not fair to you. For all we know it is stuff that is beyond your pay grade/level of experience, and you're taking longer to do it than you should or otherwise messing it up. But after a point it is your employer's duty to realize this and give the right work to the right people, including hiring new people if necessary. Be proactive in offering a solution, for example decide which projects you enjoy the most/add the most value to the company/offer the best prospects for better work elsewhere and ask to prioritize those. I'm getting deja vu here.

I agree with others broadly that you should look into jobs with non-exempt (overtime for >40hrs/wk) status, although maybe not necessarily strict blue-collar.

TopHatFox
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by TopHatFox »

@unemployable, yeah all of that is true, just didn't know what else to say since I've already expressed that I have too much to do all the time. I suppose now I'll see what happens.

Interestingly, I've started talking to the sister of an ex-partner of mine. The sister is in Massachusetts and has done things like live in a converted bus, hike the PCT, and hike all of New Zealand. And the last few times we talked on the phone were hours of meaningful back and forth. She often reaches out to me, which is great. I think that's a compelling pathway if it develops further. It's not every day (or year) you meet someone to potentially do long adventures with and can spend time with for hours. Getting to 30 with 200K and a beautiful, outdoorsy partner and some great adventures sounds pretty good. I've found life tends to be much more fulfilling when shared with the right partner or partners. If we can do some stupid jobs together over the years, that sounds much nicer than slogging it in office land alone.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Fox's Journey: And Onto the Sunlight!

Post by EdithKeeler »

Here's some advice from someone who's been a manager for several years, and in the work place for many more:

--Never, EVER volunteer any information that your employer is not entitled to know, or that you wouldn't want them to know. Feel depressed, seek treatment and use the company benefit if you have it, but NEVER EVER TELL YOUR BOSS. One way or another, it could come back to haunt you in the form of office gossip, some future denied promotion/job move ("I don't think we should give THF the job--he gets really stressed and depressed"), a negative reference ("Well, I know he had mental problems when he was here"). Trust me--it's a small, small world. I've seen things that were supposed to be protected and private that have gotten out and been talked about by people who knew better, and people who meant to do it, and people who were kind and nice but just let things slip. Innocuous things easily get blown out of proportion: "I feel depressed today" can come out the other end after several people hear it, like a game of telephone, to "I heard THF tried to slit his wrists in the company washroom."

--Related to the above: HR is NOT YOUR FRIEND. HR's main job is to protect the company, not you. You might potentially get a call from HR based on info from your boss. HR might seem really nice, asking if you need to use the Employee Assistance Program, do you know about benefits under your health plan, etc. It sounds really nice and innocuous.... but I would recommend that you play it off as a misunderstanding and don't volunteer anything to HR. Use the benefits if you need to, absolutely, but don't talk to HR about it. You could say things that could be used to build a file against you if they want to terminate you.

(Please note: this all sounds really negative, and I don't want to imply that this is always what happens. Some employers are great and do great things for their people, and keep confidential stuff confidential. But not all do, and I believe it's best to err on the side of not volunteering stuff that could potentially be used for nefarious purposes).

--If you hate your job, you hate your job. I don't recommend staying in a job you truly hate. But based on some things you've posted here, there are a lot of good things going on with your job, too, not least of which is a free graduate degree. To me, it seems silly not to take advantage of that while you can, even if you never actually want to work in that field. Based on my observations in life, just having an advanced degree, any degree, can open doors that you may never have expected. A free degree is pretty awesome and almost like money in the bank. You may not care much about having a lot of money now... but things can change. It's always a good idea to hedge your bets, just in case.

--I wonder, as a person reading your journal, if one: you're giving your job a fair shake and two: if you might not overreact a little bit to negative things. One thing pretty much all employers value is resilience and emotional intelligence, and both of those things are life skills that you will need in spades from here on out whether in work or just in relationships with other people. If I, as your employer, point out that you're not current on your work, you should take that as an opening to a conversation to learn more things, not as a criticism.

Parsing out the incident, this is what happened: your coworker (NOT your boss) came to you about uncompleted items. You say he was "mad that you hadn't done an assignment." What does that mean? Does that mean he got a complaint call ("Hey, I've been trying to reach THF about this thing that's not done, can you check on it for me?") or is it a situation where you need to do your piece before he can do his ("Hey, THF, have you done part one of the funding report? Because I need your part so I can wrap up my part, and it's due Friday.") You say he was mad--was it "Dammnit, I've asked you 10 times you miserable asshole," or was it "Man, I gotta get this done, I need it tomorrow." Was he right to be mad? Was what he confronted you about any of his business? (I ask all these questions because workplaces and work flows are all different. The details matter. If he's mad and it doesn't have anything to do with him, then let it roll off. Fuck him. But if his work is dependent on yours, then that's a different deal).

I'm going to assume that, since you went to talk to the boss, and you said "WE" had a conversation with the boss, that the coworker and you and the boss conversed all together. What was the nature of the conversation? Did they boss say "You guys need to work things out between yourselves," or what? (See point one: you, your coworker and your boss should not be talking about your use or non-use of anti-depressants. IMHO, your boss was out of line by even talking about it).

You say the conversation was friendly, and that's good. Here is my suggestion: schedule some one-on-one time with your boss. At least an hour initially, and then maybe some follow up sessions, maybe a half hour the following week, and then maybe another half hour two weeks or so after that. I suggest a script something like this: "Boss, I wanted to first of all say thanks for talking to me the other day. I was kind of having a bad day, and I appreciate your personal anecdotes and advice, but I'm good now. But I do want to talk to you about this workload thing, because I don't want to let down you or my team by not getting the work done. I've put together a list of all my pending projects (make sure you do your homework on this, and don't leave anything out), and in addition to this list, I regularly get ad hoc requests from Mary in accounting for TPS reports, and Clay from Marketing is always asking for me to pull some stats at the last minute before he goes on sales calls, and Bobbie June is always wanting me to run a special WENUS for her. I really want to get everything done, but clearly I'm not, and I wanted to talk to you about what the best way is to prioritize everything, because I'm not sure what's most important, and I also wasn't sure if you knew I was getting those specials requests and stuff. Plus, I'm not sure if there are some shortcuts I can be taking that might be able to save me some time and still get everything done. I'd like to go over this stuff and maybe put an action plan together so that I can get everything done, and then maybe we can revisit next week to check in on how it's going, and tweak it as needed."

Of course, you're going to customize this script according to your work. And frankly--I get that this whole job may all be bullshit to you. But I do think that while you work for an employer and they pay you, you owe them the work, you know? And your boss's main job, really, is to make sure the work gets done, and if he's a remotely smart boss, he knows that to get the job done, his employees may need some help and coaching from time to time. So there's no harm in asking for it. He should be coaching you anyway, so you're not asking for anything special here, only that he do his job. And you MIGHT find that even though it's all bullshit, if you get a little help and can do the job better, you might enjoy it more. That's not to say that you can't or won't pursue other work, or other stuff in your spare time, or leave eventually and get another job. All of those things may happen, and that's OK too. But getting better at this job, even if you do something completely different in the future, will still yield knowledge and experience you'll use in other ways.

This may be a hard conversation to have--it's never fun to ask for help or admit you don't know something or can't do something (even if it's not your fault). But if nothing else, this is good practice for the millions of other hard conversations you will have to have in the future in your life. And I will also say that your boss may not realize there's a problem, he may not be fully aware of everything that's going on on your desk--in lots of organizations, people dump stuff on other people that the boss knows nothing about--and he should be happy to be kept in the loop. You should also be regularly informing your boss of the good stuff you do. He's got a lot of stuff on his plate, and he may not be aware of all of your successes. Let him know. I have always appreciated it when my employees told me that they received a compliment from an agent or won a case, etc. and it certainly makes my work come performance review time easier. Keep a file on your good stuff and successes and regularly remind your boss.

But for this situation, you want to approach this conversation with your boss as "How can I do my job better? Please help me be better in my job" and NOT all "Bobbie June has less work than I do, and Billy Clyde is always dumping shit on me, and I think some of the stuff we have to do is pretty stupid anyway." That all may be true--but focus on YOUR WORK, and how YOU can do it better when you talk to your boss. But you can also get other info in, like if Bobbie June is foisting her stuff on you--"OK, great, so I just want to be clear--am I supposed to do the WENUS or is Bobbie June?"

You may totally hate this job, and it's probably not what you'll do for the rest of your life. But it is a place to earn money, have benefits, learn stuff, get a free education, etc. until you decide to make a change. And the fact is, as much you might believe that there is some perfect job out there where you can just do your thing and never have to put up with any bullshit, well.... there's always bullshit, in my experience, so you might as well practice handling it, you know, so you can do even better when you really need it for the job you love.

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