Posted by Keen Observer on March 3, 2012
Apathy kills me. And I don’t mean that in a smart-ass kind of way.
My mental makeup seems to be such that if I give up on something, I stop caring about it, for the most part. There are, of course, exceptions. This seems to me to be especially prevalent in the workplace, but in retrospect, I can also see it happen in my relationships. Once I give up, once I stop caring, it’s only a matter of time before the body stops twitching.
I saw this happen to me in real time this week. I’ve written about why in previous posts, so I won’t belabour it much. Since last Friday, when I made my decision to leave my company, I gave up on it. The pretense shielding me from acknowledgement was removed, and I “checked out”. It wasn’t really obvious at first. I tend to take pride in my work and want to do the best I can, so I was able to coast for a little bit. I had the weekend to let the idea of leaving percolate through my psyche, and by Monday it was integrated.
This happened at a less-than-perfect time at work. I’m sort of between projects, with few specific goals to distract me. I find myself doing things that others should be doing, so that I don’t have to try to rewire my mental focus on what jobs are more appropriately my domain. But I don’t have many on the go right now, so it’s harder than it seems to stay focused. I answer questions from others, and I pretend to do “research” related to my projects, but I’m feeling like I’m spinning my wheels or treading water or whatever hackneyed simile you prefer for going nowhere fast. Except I don’t think there’s any “fast” involved. More like struggling against quicksand.
The first three days of the week were OK. My friend helped with distracting me, so the days were passing quickly enough. Wednesday was her last day, and going for drinks after work with her really helped me work through some things I’ve been carrying around for a long time. Plus, I was able to explain to her very clearly why I now have to leave the company as well, and she was able to accept that it wasn’t her fault (blame she was erroneously prepared to carry). Certainly, I do not blame her for my actions; that falls elsewhere with as much malice and contempt as I can muster. Indeed, I owe her thanks for finally shaking me awake (it would be a whole ‘nother post series as to why I was in that state).
Thursday and Friday–empty of her, of secrets, of goals, of giving a shit–were two of the hardest days I’ve worked through. To jump on a request or question that comes in, when normally they are–at best–distractions from your “real” work (I don’t include my friend’s requests or questions in that), it’s a sign of gross dissatisfaction with your circumstances. But…I don’t care. I need to find something sooner, rather than later, or staying in that job is going to destroy me (the worse alternative for me is that I will adapt and become what I despise). The longer I am there after this, the worse my performance (or attitude or both) is likely to get. At some point, that will become difficult for the powers that be to ignore, and I will probably have to face the music. But…I don’t care. And that’s a little bothersome, given some of the financial realities I face.
And in thinking about this past week, I realised how that happened in my past relationships also, regardless of whether they were romantic or just friendships. I tend to be very invested in my relationships, and I give a lot of myself to them. To some, it may come across as “pushy”, or similar, but I like to maximise my time with people I like and/or respect, because I truly enjoy spending my time with them. And I now see that it has happened repeatedly that once I have reason to give up on a relationship, I just give up, even if it may takes some time to come to the realisation of that reason (or reasons). I stop caring about whether I hear from someone or not. I make no effort of my own to contact or stay in touch with them. It’s like they cease to exist for me. Oh, sure, I still remember them, and if I do hear from them, I can be quite cordial–perhaps even be friendly. But it’s almost like the personal equivalent to me of the diplomatic persona non grata status. Their existences becomes entirely irrelevant to mine.
The difference for me versus my friend (we’ve discussed this mostly from her perspective) in terms of terminating a friendship is that it seems for her to be rather more of an abrupt thing (my reading), whereas for me, it can take some time to degenerate to casual indifference through a couple of intermediate stages; for her it seems to burn out, where for me it fades away. That indifference or irrelevance, though…I have not yet had a case where it could be removed and the relationship reinstated. For both me and my friend, we tend to come to the realisation that we just do not have the energy or will to spend any time on something that is now meaningless to us, for whatever reasons. That’s a lot of inertia to overcome.
And so, it comes back to work. I wish not to spend more time in what I increasingly see as a hateful, hated environment, despite some good people there. And some people I liked I am now reluctant to speak with. The changes (in me and at work), the acknowledgement or recognition of the problems, the almost total lack of incentive and/or caring: these things have added up to my new workplace apathy. And now I must fight it during the workday, but I’m not sure I have the energy or willpower to do so. Nor do I really care. So, I have to find short-term tasks and side-channel discussions to occupy myself and my focus to help me get through the days. The long-term ones, while both engaging and interesting, I have largely stopped caring about, so if any of those need attention, I hope can chop them into small chunks that I can actually deal with and complete. Because otherwise, I just don’t fucking care.
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