Lunchbreaks and that pesky year of care.

I went back to work today, the first day after almost two weeks off. It was the normal, post-holiday shock to the system – and, as is usual in my job, my first forty or so minutes were the busiest of my day as I reacted to every small crisis and unfilled shift and conflicting client appointment, and each question that needed an answer right now!, and just got on with the chaotic business of the beginning of a day in a mental health NGO. Forty minutes into the day, coffee finally in hand, I felt like I’d been back at work for hours and hours.

Which is fine – I love my job, I love the flexibility and reflexivity it demands, and I love that a big part of my job is just making shit work – the agency rolls smoothly along (not that you’d know it from the craziness of the first part of most of my days), and a small but not unimportant part of that is the macro-administrative stuff – for want of a more descrptive term – that I do every day. It’s a nice feeling, and it suits a details-oriented left-brained control-freak like me from head to tail. But it’s tiring, and it’s demanding, and sometimes it’s in my face all the freaking time, and for an introvert I seem to do a hell of a lot of interacting with other people. Coming from two weeks of gratefully-received solitude (some days, the only person I talked to was the individual selling me food or coffee), it was a bit of a shock to come back to. There’s only so many words an introvert can say in any given week without going into word-defecit…

Being back at work is good, but it made me realise something: I’m an introvert in an extrovert’s job (which is fine) – and I need to take care of myself in that. Which I haven’t been doing. Eating lunch at my desk with the intention of taking my lunch break at an unspecified “later” time to say the rosary in a nearby park – it’s a great idea, but if when half-four arrives and I haven’t left the buliding, all I’ve achieved is lunch at my desk.

All of which is not to laud myself for being a hard worker – if I’m honest, there are reasons behind choosing to keep my brain constantly occupied rather than letting myself sit quietly in whatever reality surrounds me in that experience. But it’s not helping. And I haven’t forgotten (except that sometimes I do) that this is supposed to be my year of care.

So, she says…how’s that working out for you?


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