When February 1st, 2022, rolled around, I was suddenly in an unfamiliar position.
I didn’t have a job, a set schedule — or a life purpose, for that matter.
Thankfully, this wasn’t the result of unexpected unemployment or an accident: Instead, I had just finalized selling my business. The money was in my account, and all was well. I could comfortably prop my legs up and vacation for the next few years if I wanted to.
But while part of me was excited to take some time off, deep down, I knew I probably wouldn’t do well without work. And given how the last month has panned out, it seems I was right.
Live to Work
I suffer from nearly life-long depression (newly and officially diagnosed, yay!). Its most obvious causes are physiological — chronic stomach pain, generalized inflammation, and sinus pressure have all dampened my enthusiasm for life. But I also suspect that there’s an existential component, too.
I struggle to just “be.” During most of my waking life, I feel compelled and obligated to engage in “productive” activities — activities that will either sustain or improve my existence. Whether this mentality is the product of lifelong social programming, the grim reality of modern life in a capitalistic world, or both, is anyone’s guess. All I know is that I struggle to sit still.
This issue isn’t rooted in alexithymia or hyper-conscientiousness. I’m not attempting to outrun my emotions, and I don’t need to work for the sake of working. And in a sense, craving activity — particularly productive activity — is rational: Try laying motionless in your home for years in a capitalist, ownership-driven world where everything but oxygen is commodified, and see how that works out for you. Short answer: It won’t. As long as you’re on planet earth in this societal configuration, you’ll always have bills to pay, and you’ll have to work in some capacity or have worked to finance your existence.
Work has helped me cope with this restlessness. It’s provided me with direction, purpose, and an outlet for my energy. Without it, I’d probably be even more miserable than I already am.
The last month has proven that.
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