How Struggles Can Make You Sick

Abandoned supermarket cart

Too much stress, “bad” stress, can weaken you, deplete your resources and waste scarce time if you are not dealing with your lifestyle well.  Everybody endures stress.

 

Getting older, I believe that lifestyles of Generation Z are significantly common, but I am from a small town.  It is important to obey the Biblical commandment, to honor thy mother and father.  As the father did before you, if you are of a certain age, you too need to heed that you are following appropriately in his steps.

 

That being said, there is lightness.  I think with a touch of envy of the comparative ease of the generation of young people often collectively referred to as Generation Z.  That doesn’t mean that I can compete with the energy of the young and of the attitudes which characterize them, different than for someone my age.

 

Someone like me, I feel, is part of a culture that values stress, that putting a great deal of work into a lifetime is a necessity.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

 

Abandoned supermarket cart
Shopping cart

However, it means fulltime people endure an enormous amount of stress.  The more hours of work we take on, to make ends meet, the more stress we cope with.

 

I believe stress can easily bend one to its will rather than the other way round.  It is all very hard to manage.

 

In the film sequence preceding the climax of the 1978 feature film Superman, Lex Luthor conquers Superman with a chain of Kryptonite, until Superman makes a personal promise to Luthor’s beautiful assistant in order that she remove the powerful amulet–but a promise that puts at risk the woman who has his heart, Lois Lane.  All in all, it is an excellent film.

 

What I did, in my life, is an irregular passage through the years.  In 2008 when my employer closed its doors, I went on to work a part-time job while reflecting on what to do with my future  Then I went full time on government disability, as it was felt that I’d been “compromised” enough to give up on making a living through the avenue of work.

 

I had been reading some books on self-management and I didn’t think the stress of a new workplace was going to benefit me enough to do it.

 

A few years later, my father, perhaps frustrated by my reluctance, had an idea.  He was retiring from many years with a municipal cemetery, where he’d helped manage it from its offices.

 

A small cemetery in our town was searching for new operators.  It attracted him, and the trustees of that property were pleased to turn it over to him, so that he could direct it, pleased to have a focus in his retirement.

 

To my surprise, my dad invited me to help handle the operation of the cemetery.  We commenced in 2011.  The church at the cemetery, formerly of the United Church of Canada, had disbanded in 2006.

 

Headstones under repair
Important headstones of family generations in Maple Lawn Cemetery

We maintain the property ourselves, and work in the interior of the church in dire weather, setting our sights on attending to the cemetery once a week.  We made a not-for-profit out of it.  While I am junior, and there is no certainty how matters will proceed, in the seven years or so, lucky seven, that we’ve handled the cemetery, it has been a luxury of time and experience for me and an opportunity to enjoy the company of my father in his golden years.

 

We have had outside help from brothers of my father, my uncles.   On a few brief occasions we have talked about growth, but I don’t know if I can turn this venture into something in which I can continue in the long-term.  This post is intended to be expository writing, but working for a not-for-profit, when financial gains are generally hard-won, can lead to burnout, and to a minor degree that is what I am experiencing.

 

You see, I contribute several hours a week of work to the cemetery, and as my dad has spoken reassuringly of the flexibility to set our own hours, I have lately started to reduce my workload to a four-day week rather than a five-day.

 

I can’t help, for example, but want to relax on Saturday.  I think the decision to work less on Fridays is somewhat deleterious in that if you want to get ahead, you should probably be hustling with the same energy on a Friday that you do on a Monday.

 

I couldn’t help, in the past several weeks, to admit that the stress of putting nonprofit work at the center of my life, was making me feel a touch sick, by which I mean I was experiencing burnout.  I am sure this is common.

 

Dimensions: 5456 x 3632
Photographer: Ylanite Koppens

Whether this transition, to four days of focus on the cemetery rather than on each and every business day, will contribute to a soul-searching decision by my dad to relieve me of my work, I don’t know.  I think what will determine my chances of staying on are the quality of work I can produce in the time I devote to the not-for-profit.

 

How this has me feeling, perhaps, “sick,” is that I do care about working and I do feel some prestige enjoying the privilege of doing work that is shaped by our own efforts.  This is in contrast to working for a firm that is structured in predictable ways, with employee equity and positions and demands which could easily contribute to a high-stress load.

 

I am taking this risk because I believe I can do better work if I make strategies to cope with the burnout before there are related consequences.  I am counting on my own experience and abilities to do the same quality of work in a four-day structure than I would be getting done by committing the entirety of the work week to headway and progress.

 

I am sick to think of losing what I have worked for, and I am sick to think of bringing shame onto my father if the quality of my work does suffer because I am having trouble being afield of all that we do.  I feel like I should write something about feeling troubled by what I have to do to manage my role as operator, and maybe even think on how I could express an appropriate apology for how I am feeling.

 

Writing is the act of discovery. – Natalie Goldberg

 

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Photographer: Freestocks.org

If my father does finally decide, which I know he won’t do lightly, that I should be dismissed, it will be a sad day and for that, I will pay a price, of having the failure on my shoulders.  If that scenario comes to pass I will take time to mend.  It may be a self-centered attitude, but the best that can be done in the face of failure is to learn from what happened.

 

Everyone has experienced failure, and usually many, many times, sometimes with adverse consequences.

 

If you have never failed, you have stayed well inside your comfort zone.  Life needs to change and grow.

 

If my role in the not-for-profit does end in failure, I will at least have work experience.  I think I can draw on the time spent at this to draw conclusions that will inform my life in the future.  The situation that I think could result, however, is not going to be completely ideal.

 

It will be back to being “sick,” resorting to making ends meet with the help of a pension for disability, and with the support of my mom and dad.  Ain’t no one got time for that.  I will have then have the opportunity to look for a job if I feel I can weather the stress, or return to freelancing and try to find my niche doing that.

 

Dimensions: 2500 x 1995
Photographer: Rawpixel.com

Many members of Generation Z work as freelancers in the digital economy, and I would be competing with all of those people, which is daunting.  That being said, there are a few paths ahead for me to take and I will have to ask for guidance from fate and the intentions of The Lord.  I know I shouldn’t emphasize feeling sick about all this and I know I shouldn’t take on a job post that gives me more additional stress than I can handle.

 

For now, I will bide my time–for as much clarity as I can muster.

 

You are welcome to like, follow, and/or comment if you have feedback.  Lately, the blog has been fairly quiet, in terms of visits it receives, but you never know when some I’ve published here will pique the interest of a reader.

 

I appreciate the time of those who are visitors.  I have been tying my blog to the not-for-profit, and also trying to be jovial as I know it is as yet an amateur effort.  I feel blogging will continue to play a role in the time I have to write, as it is a splendid little spot of fun that has a pragmatic purpose.

How Is It We Came Across This?

Today’s WordPress Daily Prompt is the word awkward. Here are a few words to the effect that being caught awkward is a compelling reason to rush a catch-up.

What catches me most off guard, most frequently, is the “brain fog” I get from being overwhelmed with too many new facts and figures. It is always a hard measure to make that new information could require a say so, or if it is better to sit back and let the storm take it course.

Dimensions: 4813 x 3213
Photographer: Nao Triponez

That’s the essence of demonstrating research skills–judgments about the usefulness of info that is easy to slip up on when nothing but smooth sailing was expected. It can resemble trial by fire.

The most significant decision is whether the new info is only a time waster, or if it does benefit you to react. Coming up with an appropriate reaction is the hardest decision to make in the whole process. It’s awkward because sometimes there is a sense of damage having been done.

When new facts are discomfiting, while I surely believe that a lot of people get angry in the face of trouble, I don’t find matters to be very easily resolved by simply getting mad and responding with contempt. It is necessary to see a positive in every negative scenario.

I belong to a not-for-profit operated by family and in the course the work I do occasionally experience unexpected problems which demand physical, real-world responses. The trouble of the “data science” variety feels a bit slimy in that you don’t know if the impact of what’s become apparent is going to have a measurable impact on your efforts. I am trying to candidly address the problem of being found awkward in the professional sense and to give a few thoughts on handling it.

Those are the most stressful times I encounter. Prompt is the word awkward.