I haven’t written on her for ages, which is pretty much the usual story anyway!
I got through the mega-conference at work, again totally shattered afterwards, but got through it, and it was successful. I managed to get to my hometown to help look after my sick mum for a bit after finally disentangling myself from work, and then I managed to tick off my new year resolution, by going on my first overseas holiday in four years.
Vanuatu was wonderful. The right pace and place for a relaxing trip, with enough opportunity for little adventures. Fatigue friendly except for the heat and humidity perhaps. The highlights were the people, travelling around and feeling free, remembering my confidence and abilities in moving through new places, and swimming in beautiful things — blue lagoons, blue holes, waterfalls, blue and golden beaches, all stunning and clean. I had missed being in nature and adventuring. I felt happy and felt more like myself than I had in a long time (despite some suspicion of the solo female traveller that I face wherever I go).
When I went, I was so tied up with stress – work drama that I had been trying to nut out for ages finally came to a head right before I left and it was all very un-fun. The first few nights away I couldn’t sleep well because of it, even though I was tired from the flights, and it was making me angry, because this was my holiday and this nonsense belonged to some place else. But finally I started to feel the stress come out of my shoulders after the first couple of days, and realised that I hadn’t felt relaxed in months and months – maybe years to be honest.
Unfortunately as soon as I came back there was more drama, more huge workloads, and the holiday had made me less tolerant of it all frankly. I am now in a place where I am wondering what I am doing, and what the point of it all is, and whether I should be doing more and using my skills and intelligence more. I got a cold a couple of weeks after getting back, and the cold came with a heavy side of existentialism about the point of it all, and splash of feeling depressed. I don’t want to end up some administrational nagging mother of my office, which is how many parts of the university seem to view me. The gender politics and how it plays out in the academic vs professional staff split of the university is constantly aggravating with no signs of improvement. And then there is the sector more broadly. If you are a young guy with a similar level of experience to myself, you can be regarded as an expert. Whereas I still get regarded by some of those same youngish guys with condescension. It’s tiring. I want to fix it, but I also need to be able to get paid to fix it, because that’s capitalism and unfortunately I need to earn a decent income to live comfortably. And with the constraints of living with a chronic illness, it’s an added difficulty. I don’t have the energy to come home from work and do extracurricular writing like I did when I was younger. It’s not laziness – it’s the illness.
At the moment I have Fridays off because the university is forcing me to use ‘excess annual leave’ by an arbitrary date with no consideration of circumstance or practicality. So part of me is like “I should use this time to do XYZ” but in reality, I am tired and I work constantly, so I am using the time to cook and sew and do other things I want to do instead.
So I’m a bit lost about what to do with myself more broadly. I see opportunities that interest me, but I haven’t had the luxury of time to do some of the work that would better position me to get them. I’ve sat and gotten handed more and more invisible work because I am good at getting things done quickly, but when the pile is never-ending and other people have at times used my efficiency as an excuse, good luck on getting to the work that would be more meaningful.
I think the main answer is to burn down capitalism and the patriarchy, but it’s a bit hard to do when you are exhausted and have bills to pay. So yeah, just angsting and wishing I could be back on an island somewhere instead.