There’s a big project going on at work at the moment and it’s helping me to discover something about myself. Or rather, it’s helping me to crystallise something I already sort of knew but never fully bothered to explore.
Sometimes I can be an IT helpdesk’s worst nightmare. Let’s be honest, if I’m calling the helpdesk, unless it’s something to do with restricted matters, then there’s a 90% chance that it’s something complicated. I know how to fix the easy stuff. People who sit near me often ask me for help before the try ringing the IT Helpdesk. Sometimes people from other parts of the office even call me on the phone.
I don’t know how it happens, but it does. And it’s happening again because we are in the middle of a big roll out of new client management software that has introduced significant changes into some very essential company processes.
I had my doubts, my anxieties, and my frustrations, but coming toward the end of our third week, I’m actually starting to feel pretty comfortable with what I have to do. There is still a lot of absent functionality as the software has been pared down to the most essential functions for the first part of the launch, and I chafe sometimes when I run up against barriers and need to request help with tasks that I could previously do myself, but I know that this will change in due course.
In the meantime I am learning my way around those nooks and crannies to which I do have access. And people are once again asking me for help and for my input.
The thing is, I’m a workaholic, and somewhat of a perfectionist. I am also obnoxiously attentive to details and consistency. These are all things that are very important when you’re dealing with data input and data quality. Along with that, I hate not understanding something. And apparently, I love a challenge. The first week was exhausting and stressful. The second week was frustrating. This week has actually been… exhilarating.
I know, I know. I’m weird. And I love it.
This was something I always knew about me to a certain degree – I used to work quite late during the busy months before we had a baby. When I went back to work after Hawkeye was born I found a whole new level of job satisfaction because, compared to parenting, my job was easy. I have discrete tasks. I have to prioritise them. I have to do them. And then they’re done and I can move on to the next thing. On days when I’m organised I feel a steady sense of achievement and order that is sorely lacking at home. My old crafting projects? Some day I’ll get back to those but right now I don’t have the energy or the mental faculty or even the precious free time. Raising a human being? That’s a real slow burner of a project. There’s no sense of immediate achievement. It’s only when you look back and reflect on what things were like the month before, or the month before that, that you realise how far your little human has come and how amazing his progress is. But in the heat of the moment, at the coalface of parenting, there is very little sense of accomplishment to grab on to when you need that mental pick-me-up. Just and endless vortex of chaos that consumes everything around you.
And now, as we’re in the middle of our busiest month, with the extra pressure of a new system, I’m finding myself loving it so much I sometimes don’t want to come home. Don’t get me wrong, I love my husband and I love my kid, but it’s a bit like a drug or an addiction. I can’t get enough of that “if I just finish this…. and then do this…. I can do that…”
It’s a high.
Sometimes I feel bad if (on days when I’m not on collection duty) I end up working late and my husband has to prompt me to leave work. It’s not fair to him. So when I am conscious of it, I try to rein it in, to exercise self-control the way one would with any sort of habit that can be taken to excess. I don’t want my job to be more important than my marriage or my family. Perhaps it is the sense that things like relationships, parenting, or even just adulting as a whole, is difficult to navigate and so very often you can feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, that you’re just blindly stumbling around in the dark, flailing at anything you come in contact with, hoping it’s the right direction for you. It’s hard to feel confident when you are forging your own path through life, as we all must. But work doesn’t have this difficult. Your job is well defined. Your goals are easy to identify. You know what you need to do and how to do it. So is it really so strange that workaholics gravitate toward something that makes it easy to find confidence in yourself. When you’re sitting on the floor of your toddler’s bedroom, and your kid is wearing a pull up on their head and you’ve just spent forty minutes trying to convince him to put his pyjama pants on, confidence can be hard to find. Staying in work suddenly begins to look like a palatable alternative.
There are also plenty of weeks when this sense of challenge and achievement is absent. When the particular run of work is frustrating or not sufficiently interesting and I have to force myself to pay attention. When I’m not feeling well or not refreshed enough to have the energy to care. It’s not difficult to leave the office on those days.
But thankfully something eventually rolls around that re-ignites my interest and feeds my addiction.
I love it.
Hello, my name is Rose and I am a workaholic.