I’m sure you can all agree with my above statement and if not… then please tell me your secrets so I can be living the good life too! I would love to live one of those picture perfect lives where everything you do and stuff is instagram worthy and make sit look like its all so effortless but, apparently, I’m not graced with that (though from what I’ve read not a lot of people are even of those who make it seem like they are).
So I not only just got diagnosed with Lyme disease recently (something my doctor is pretty sure I’ve actually been struggling with for a while without knowing it – something that is very common) but I have also gotten a job! I am ecstatic at having some income and a reason to leave my house every now and again. However, there is one thing that I am slowly learning that I sorta wish I’d already known and that is that I am just not built for retail.
Now I want to make this very clear: I have the utmost respect for those who actually work retail because it is not an easy job.
Now I want to delve more into why I can’t do retail and why I’m coming to terms with that as being okay and not something I need to force myself into. To start I want to explain the reason why I can’t do retail, which is really quite simple. I can physically do all the things that the job requires of me, that part isn’t the problem, but when it comes to dealing with that many people for 4 to 8 hours a day (depending on the length of my shift) I can’t cope with it. This part of the work is so mentally and emotionally draining that I basically become a bit of a walking zombie by the end of even a 4 hour shift.
Now you might be asking why is that and I’ll happily answer that for you. The simplest answer is that I am introvert and have really bad anxiety on top of that. Let’s break that down and talk about each reason on its own.
We’ll talk first about the introvert part. I have a feeling a lot of you know what an introvert is and why someone who is in this class of personalities might not make such a good retail worker. Being an introvert means that one gains their energy from time spent in a more solitary setting doing something calming rather then gaining energy through shared experiences with groups of friends. It does not mean that I do not like to socialize but that I prefer to do it on my own terms with small numbers of people who I know and feel comfortable around. Though even with those people I consider friends I can still get overwhelmed and I certainly still need time on my own to recharge my battery. Basically the fact that I have to deal with a large number of people who I don’t know every day working in a cafe means that I am very quickly drained of my energy reserves since I am required to be an extrovert at work. That on its own is quite tiring but not enough to be utterly draining.
Now add to the natural introvert nature the anxiety and you start to see why it becomes something that is so overwhelming. I am not currently taking medication for my anxiety (though my therapist has recommended it but my own personal issues with taking lots of meds are sort of getting in the way) and I don’t really have any coping mechanism in place to deal with it either. This means that I spend pretty much my entire work day panicking about things that haven’t happened and generally aren’t really likely to happen. I panic that I’m going to mess up someone’s drink horribly and they’ll be angry or that I’ll take too long and they’ll be upset. Its all these little things that build on each other in such a way that even writing this is making my chest feel tight, making breathing difficult, and giving me jitters and I’m not even at work right now.
It is this combination of things that results in a draining of every ounce of energy that I would prefer to be putting into writing (something that requires a lot of emotion for me to do well). I end my day wanting nothing more then to curl up on my own couch and just lay there. The most I do in the evenings when I work is read or play with my dog because he’s adorable and demanding. It takes me multiple days off in a row to recover even a fraction of that energy and by then I’m back to work again. I realize this is an unsustainable cycle in the long run because it will, inevitably, lead to me not writing anything at all which defeats my life goal of becoming a writer.
This job will eventually eat away at all my free time just as the previous retail job I had did and I’ll wind up miserable again and yet I get myself into this situation again and again. I want to work and make money. I want to be able to go in and do my job every day and still write in the evenings. I want to be a normal(ish) member of society who can do their job without it being detrimental to my mental and physical well being. These are all things I am desperately trying to grasp at while making sure I’m not doing myself the grave disservice of forcing myself into a situation where I have to pick work or my love and desire to write stories that touch people’s souls. It is a struggle and I don’t know how to win because the ‘responsible’ adult in me says to forgo writing for now in favor of having a stable job even if it means I’m exhausted and emotionally drained outside of work because that’s what everyone expects and wants of me. But on the other hand the dream in me says to screw work and go all in for that perfect life I dream about, the one where I can create and make things on a daily basis and not worry about money. These two aspects of my being are so fundamentally different that I don’t know how to reconcile them.
My entire being and soul yearns to be creative and make beautiful things that people can admire and that make them feel something but my mind reminds me to be practical and says I don’t have the skill or resources to make that a viable possibility. I want to reject my current reality in favor of the one I wish to create but the fear of failing and being without the resources to live are a crippling weight that I do not know how to shake off.
Maybe some day I will look back on this time in my life and see the path I’ve taken has lead me to where I want to be… but I fear I’ll look back and realize this was the moment of me giving up all those dreams.