Good evening, all! Thank you for your patience during my… extended blog silence. Between finishing up the holiday season at the pie shop, shutting down the bakery for a week of vacation, and then all the madness/travel/actual rest involved in said vacation, I found that I needed to take writing off my plate too. You’d think I’d be excited to be stuck in a plane for 3 hours at a stretch with nothing to do BUT write, but an audiobook and the need for sleep had other ideas.
The good news is that I’m rested, refreshed, and slowly getting back into the good habits that I let fall by the wayside in the last few months.
Like most people, though, time with family is not always renewing and refreshing despite love and all the best intentions. My parents can be neurotic and benevolently overbearing sometimes (characteristics which, nebach, my wife says I come by honestly.) They are getting older and learning to deal not just with our world as it is- challenging enough for any age group- but coming to grips with the world as it was. That includes recognizing the good and the bad that we carry forward with us, however unwittingly.
It had already been an exhausting morning when my boss walked in. A new employee needed to be trained. There were concerns about the production schedule. Orders hadn’t come through, ingredients were misplaced, an extremely impatient and entitled customer… and all of it needed my personal attention when I wasn’t getting my own production done.
When my boss came in and saw all the activity- busy, but not quite chaotic- she asked if there was anything she could do to help. “It’s great that your training the new girl today, but maybe just have her shadow you today instead of giving her tasks? That way you don’t have to be distracted all the time answering questions.”
I refused partly because she was asking good questions and learning well, but mostly because by handing off simpler, smaller tasks for her to learn on, I could focus on the tasks that needed a managers touch- like the lady that thought an incomplete order behind the counter was hers and tried to walk away with it.
It was busy that morning, and it felt like chaos, but it wasn’t. Everything got done, well and on time. What made it feel like chaos and created stress was answering questions that didn’t need answers and handling problems that had already been handled. I’m a big believer in servant leadership, but there’s a serious difference between that and learned helplessness.
When I am in a sour mood- cranky, frustrated, exhausted, irritated by life- that’s often when I am most likely to do something charitable. I’ll help out a friend with a problem, give some extra cash to a panhandler, or buy something I don’t really need to support a good cause.
Why? There’s a lot of psychology behind the action. We can discuss the differences between empathy and sympathy, that being frustrated puts me in a more empathetic place to others and I’m more likely to try and help. We can discuss how doing good things releases endorphins, making me feel good, and whether or not that makes the action actually “altruistic.” It could even be as simple as “I feel like this world sucks, so I’m gonna do SOMETHING to make it better.”
Those would be excellent blog posts… but they are not this one. This post is about the fact that that same principle applies to when good things happen to other people, and to help your negative feelings about it. This post is about Impostor Syndrome, envy, and diffusing both by supporting your friends.
It was a habit I’d gotten used to every Thursday morning. Thursday is Scone Day.
Every Thursday for the last year, I’d start my day in the bakery by double-checking our inventory and getting started mixing giant batches of scone dough. Sometimes three flavors, but lately just the two best ones. Giant masses of sour-sweet short dough, weighed into mounds, then pressed into discs. No real thinking about it, unless something went wrong- the mix too dry, too wet, not the right yield, or whatever. Otherwise, it was automatic- just like most aspects of the position I’ve worked in for the last two years.
Today I made my last batch of scone dough. Next week, I’ll be moving on to a new job. The staff says it won’t be the same and that they’ll miss me, and I know they’re being kind. I’ve trained the people I’m leaving behind well- they almost function better without me hanging around looking for something to do.
“Looking for something to do.” Once upon a time, the position was grueling. I sweated my bones trying to make production lists, meet the needs of a frantic bakeshop, and train a parade of faces and names to bake. Now, the job is almost… easy. It’s scheduled. Practiced. Thoughtless.
I helped make it that way, and now I’m too tired and stressed to enjoy the easy part anymore.
Just putting in the effort/ hustling/ grinding is not enough- that effort needs to be in the right direction for what you want to do, otherwise you will just burn yourself out for no reason. Part of that process means constantly reevaluating what you are doing, and dropping the jobs, habits, and directions that no longer serve you like a hot rock.
Sometimes quitting is the easiest thing in the world- usually once it’s become a matter of moving on to something better or personal survival. Unfortunately, our pack-bonding brains are great at giving us reasons to stick around, endure the unacceptable, and sabotage our own happiness for the sake of security.
If breaking up with your job is hard to do, it might really be for the best.