Four Weeks // Loose Thoughts on Agency

2022-03-01  hungry

My favorite thing about February is that it’s short. I might argue that February is the Worst Month—winter is still very much here, but the afterglow of the holidays has long passed, along with the novelty of seeing my breath and walking in snow; the allure of spring slowly infiltrates my thoughts but without new leaves or flower buds to back it up; I have never been given President’s day off and have rarely wanted to acknowledge Valentine’s day so in my calendar this is a month with no holidays; to top it off it’s impossible to spell. On non-leap years, including this one, February exactly four weeks long. Today, this means I have been at my new job for exactly four weeks. I wrote earlier about how excited I was to quit urban labs, and how, at the time, I hadn’t yet felt excited to start a new role. I assumed that, at some point, I would, and I hoped that starting something new would feel different. Maybe not the starry-eyed enthusiasm I had in November 2018 when the prospect of being paid to learn and do “Good Work” and meet people was new and unthinkable, but maybe the adventure of learning a new skill and contributing to something better than the old “Good Work,” and just maybe something that replaces the out-of-body staring-into-the-abyss absence I felt when trying and inevitably failing to motivate myself to do the old “Good Work” and instead just sitting there looking at a blank screen or youtube or tiktok. Shockingly, things have not felt different. I have not felt more excited, or even really more obligated, to learn or to meet people or to contribute. I have not spent any less time daydreaming about walking down the street in the afternoon sun or window shopping for decrepit farms to spend a summer refurbishing. I am being a little dramatic—I make a pretty solid amount of money to sit and stare into the abyss and not be called out on it; the grass is always greener etc. etc. Maybe, also, I would feel differently were I in an office with distinct work spaces and shared morale and Real Human Contact. There is actually an office I went to once but it seems to average 0-1 person in there per day so I have not been back, although I certainly will one day because it’s very close to a laser tag arena (and believe me I have been absolutely fiending for some laser tag). I feel disappointed in myself for not feeling the excitement I should be, and for tricking myself into starting at an organization that seems to have the same issues as the last one. I am clinging to the idea that this can be a time to learn; a springboard; that if I dislike it I can quit at any time with a newly polished resume. I have been thinking often recently about agency and responsibility. Quitting felt like an act of agency but starting feels like the reverse—I would not have quit if I had not been offered another job, so who is the real agent of change? I talked a big talk about quitting WWOOFing if I hadn’t found a new job or if I didn’t like this one, but would I have done it? I’m not confident I would have. After watching Worst Person in the World I dreamed of scandinavia (my friend Mackenzie used to use the word “Norweeaboo” to denote an american obsessed with norway) partially for the aesthetic (this is silly—my life will never be as well lit and perfectly messy and tastefully curated as a movie set—but maybe maybe maybe it would be closer there than here) and partially for the health insurance. I have not been on my parents’ health insurance since I was 19 because they run their own small company and it was always a better deal for me to do something else, and recently I’ve been blaming my lack of adventure on that although it obviously was never the reason. I needed a Job job—not just any job—for that reason, and for the elder child expectation of responsibility that was never stated but that I think everyone understands. I talked with Maya and Paul last night after dinner, and Maya talked about how important people only really come into your life by chance and I argued that wasn’t true. That a lot of work goes into meeting those people and making them important. I often wish my brain would catch up to itself. Maybe it’s best to start small: I went on a date; I signed up for a ceramics class; I am growing flowers.