When I joined Get Carter, I arrived immediately following the completion of my Masters course. This isn’t an exaggeration; I completed and handed-in my twenty-four thousand word dissertation on the Friday, before turning up, at 9am, on the Monday that followed.
Ultimately, this meant two things for me: first, I had afforded myself a two day break from the world, in which I managed to fit in much less debauchery than previously planned; and second, I had the most radical culture shock of my life, trading liberally working when it best suited me, for the rigid AM wake-ups of office life.
Thankfully, as rumours of pandemic and then furlough began to take over news headlines, I was at no point worried for my job safety; I have a lot of faith in the decision makers at Get Carter, and they kept me reassured and in the loop throughout.
I understand in this regard I am very lucky.
I approached my furlough, then, with a distinct sense of calm: finally, I thought, I have my post-educative break from the world.
And that’s the attitude that I carried with me over several weeks: although I was aware of what self-motivated training I could complete before my return, I chose to place it on the backburner, and truly enjoy a time in which nothing was expected of me.
For the first couple of weeks it was bliss. I continued to give my girlfriend a lift to work, meaning I retained a semblance of structure to my otherwise undemanding day. In between these short car journeys, I lived as decadently as possible.
It was after three weeks or so that I started to realise I was going a bit mad.
Whether it was the social isolation, or the absence of expectation, or the fact that I’d run out of ideas, ultimately, I felt lost.
I’d like to clarify what I mean by this: I was receiving plenty of support off my friends, family and, colleagues, and I felt wholly relaxed and content. I wasn’t knowingly struggling with my mental health.
Instead I was lost in the sense that I had no application. I realised that I had now rejuvenated reserves of energy; and nowhere to focus it on.
I would cook extravagant meals; listen intently and extensively to newly released music (see Alfredo by Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist); I downloaded a cricket game on the Xbox, and played an entire 5 match Ashes Series with a friend over the course of three weeks.
Whilst I could occupy my mind, I would still finish these leisure activities by sitting in the same old seat, thinking the same old thing: nothing.
As Humans, there are very few things that we need.
There are conflicting ideas around this, but they all seemingly agree on one necessity (amongst a few others): Variation.
As we’ve returned to the office this week, I’ve slowly realised the importance of work.
In being able to change my setting, I find myself with a clearer mind. The nature of the workplace, too, is that I’m never short of something to focus my energy on.
Whether that be targeted research, or crafting an email to use for sales, or writing a blog about not being bored anymore – I’m engaged in my life in a way that I’d lost at home.
Even socially, I’m now speaking to more people about more things, and I feel more like myself again.
I spent months, maybe years, hung up on the idea that “I needed a break” only to find myself screaming inwardly: “I need work!”.
I guess I’m still figuring it out. But I know one thing: it feels good to be back.