Stockholm syndrome is kicking in
July 18, 2011 8:10 AM Subscribe
How do you reconcile your private and professional selves?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (15 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
A few years ago due to the pressing need for financial security I left my free-wheeling creative career for a high-stress corporate job that was intellectually demanding but viscerally moribund. It was a huge culture shock and the first year was miserable, at the end of which I had a minor breakdown (taken as vacation so no-one from work knew what was happening). The next year was still bad but I knuckled down. Four years in I'm running my department and it's no longer hell but I've changed an awful lot and I'm scared. I no longer do any of the creative things I used to do, I haven't written a song or painted a picture or geeked out with arty types in about three years.
I have a lot of responsibility and while I've enjoyed the intellectual stretch work has now become all-consuming and I'm obsessing over the slightest detail. I find myself saying 'we' rather than 'I' all the time at work - I'm even directing the groupthink. It feels like the mask is fused to my face the rest of the time too. I don't go to see bands, I don't even shop for clothes any more because I feel aukward and fake. I'll play instruments or listen to music by myself but I've got so good at suppressing my instincts I can't physically bring myself to take part in, or be around people who are involved with creative activities because I keep having these mad emotional responses to the slightest trigger - at the urging of my SO I recently tried out a taster session for a choir and as soon as I started singing I burst into tears (at the back of the room, no one saw). Weird crying jogs happen almost daily. On the plus side I'm financially secure, on the minus side I feel a shadow of my former self.
How do I reconcile these different bits of me? Clearly I'm good at my job, but I've been conflicted for so much of it I can't remember life in colour. I'm an all-or-nothing kind of person (and an extreme introvert which doesn't help) and I can't seem to get any kind of balance. Has anyone else out there been through this? What did you do?