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Those Days When You’re Still Paying Off the Emotional Debt from the Day Before

·419 words·2 mins
Mental Health

It’s one of those days.

Sometimes I get so damned tired of the questions my brain asks me that I can’t answer.

Some days I wake up exhausted for seemingly no reason. Not because I didn’t get enough sleep (although that’s always a struggle). But feeling as though an important part of me can’t get any rest. As though I accrued an emotional debt the day before. One that I’m forced to pay off the next day. And maybe the day after that. And the day after that.

However long it takes.

There’s one thing I miss from being back in school (which for me was first public school and then later college): The way that each term ends. Whether it’s a quarter or a semester or a school year, eventually it ends.

And even if you’ve had a rough time, the slate is (generally) wiped clean. Maybe you don’t like the grade you got. But you have a fresh start going into the next term. There are new assignments. And if you’re at college, there are generally new courses.

I missed that later on in life, when I was working as a project manager in business to business client work.  Even if you managed to deliver one project successfully, there was always another. And if you screwed up with a big client, well… they didn’t just forget. The grade followed you into the next project and then the next.

If something got fouled up — even if it wasn’t your personal fault, even if it was one of your employees’ fault or no one’s at all — it was on your head. Even if it just happened on your watch. And once it was on your head, it would follow you around.

Even when things were good, that threat was always there. I often found that it wasn’t enough to not have any baggage of my own. I spent weeks working hard to make amends for what had happened with predecessors.

Having worked many difficult stressful jobs (farm work, retail, food service, sales, hotel maid, etc.), I thought that a professional position would be the cushiest thing in the world. In some ways, it was honestly pretty great. But before I worked in management, I couldn’t imagine the unique brand of stress you were subjected to.

But now that I have, I recognize it when it comes up in other areas. When I wake up still exhausted from the day before, never able to get a fresh start.


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