How to feel like I’m not just my job?
June 15, 2018 9:40 AM   Subscribe

I have achieved my “dream job,” and I’m basically happy with it. But I feel like all I do is work, eat and sleep. Anhedonic details within.

My job is good; best job I’ve ever had and best compensation I’ve ever had. My usual day goes like this:

Wake up, get ready [1hr]
Commute to work on bus [1hr 30min]
Work [8hr]
Commute home [1hr 30min]
Make dinner, eat, talk with bf [1hr 30min]
Watch a TV episode [1hr]
Read or do crossword in bed [30 min]
Sleep [9hr]

There is one deviation, which is that one night a week bf and I play trivia in a local bar.

I basically feel like I do nothing but work and laze around! This is very possibly a result of spending 3 hours a day commuting on a bus. But I know from past experience that even with a short commute, I mostly dip around all evening.

I tried to imagine my ideal life and I think it involves more socializing. For instance, I would love to meet up with someone for drinks once or twice a week after work, or see my family (who are across the country). But I have been here a year and still don’t really have friends, plus “after work” is for me is nebulous due to commute. I feel a bit like bf and I are driving each other stir crazy (though we get along; there’s just a palpable sense of cabin fever).

A few weeks ago I was sick and stayed home cleaning the house all day and felt such a renewed sense of... my life belonging to me. I think it was not only choosing what to do and when but the sensation of having time and space to myself. Bf and I share what is basically a studio apartment, so even when we’re doing separate activities we’re in each other’s faces. I’ve been pretty low and shortfused lately for no particular reason, maybe too much daily coffee and nightly wine. But I basically feel like I’m wasting my life. I’ve tried adding more hobbies in— learning math/physics during my commute, cooking more, reading things I’ve always wanted to read. But it all feels basically solitary and pointless. I’m honestly not sure whether I want to be alone or with people!

It doesn’t help that my career is so new and I’m still trying to prove myself; I don’t know if/when I will really feel acualized at work. It’s also the case that i don’t have much in common with people at work except our shared interest in our field. I’m in the Bay Area, where everyone’s addicted to hiking and kayaking and blah blah (it’s fun and I do such things on occasion but I’ve never been really outdoorsy). I’m in tech and the “friends” that I do have through work mostly want to talk about like... Bitcoin, while I would rather talk about (pure) math or art films. So friend making has been slow going.

I have been seeing a therapist occasionally but have mostly gotten the suggestion to do more hobbies and that type of thing. I guess I feel like hobbies pass the time but don’t feel particularly meaningful; being part of a human community is meaningful. But I’m very bad at it. Every day feels so long, and like I have to be at least three different people throughout, and I feel like I’m capable of doing... one thing, max. (I’m also on low dose SSRI for anxiety and Wellbutrin for depression but they have only made me better at performing, not actually happier or more fulfilled.)

For awhile I shifted my schedule so I could sit on the patio alone after work, reading with an aperitif. That made me happy, but I gradually became more aware of how sad it was that I was doing an essentially social activity (having pre-dinner drinks) alone. Yesterday at work I heard a commotion and looked out the window to see a bunch of people in nice clothes having a tipple and chatting in groups and I felt like crying. I just wished I was less anxious and alienated so I could have that too without always feeling like a dunce afterward. Being alone makes me melancholy and being with people makes me hate myself afterward. In the past I have been more than content to be alone; I’m not sure why I feel this way all of the sudden.

Anyway, how do you make yourself feel like life is not a constant grind? How do you handle long days of going through the motions without profound alienation? Or do you just suck it up? How can I feel that my life is not an echo chamber for my own bullshit?
posted by stoneandstar to Human Relations (33 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I should add that I sound contemptuous of my peers at work but I generally respect them and find them smart, I’m just alienated by the topics they want to discuss and the lack of interests in my interests (mutual feeling of incompatibility I guess). I’m not very good at just shooting the shit.

I also spend a lot of time just mindlessly shopping due to boredom, which I hate.
posted by stoneandstar at 9:43 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you looked for a group that you could do couple or few times a month?
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 9:46 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Being alone makes me melancholy and being with people makes me hate myself afterward. In the past I have been more than content to be alone; I’m not sure why I feel this way all of the sudden.

AGE and experience. for me anyway. I'm not that old and I think you're even less old than me, but the pleasures of being left alone have started to come and go. they do come back, but the first time one is alone and doesn't like it is as alarming as the first sign of physical degeneration, in its own way. this for me was a change independent of the waxing and waning of depressive attitudes and moods.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you work in a metropolitan area then swap the tv/dinner time for doing something after work - theatre, gigs, meetup, restaurant etc. Then nights when home perhaps do a creative hobby? Also, can you substitute running or cycling for part of your commute? Reading is good if not though.

I tend to look at my time outside work as, what will I look back on when old and be glad I spent the time doing? So TV isn't it! Especially while young and healthy, got to make the most of this time while we can.
posted by JonB at 9:54 AM on June 15, 2018 [10 favorites]

I think you need a social hobby. For instance, a few years ago I joined a local community chorus, which meets once/week on Monday nights. We all wear name tags and a number of people have formed tight social groups. I haven't really bonded too much with anyone in the chorus since I'm generally pretty busy with family and my pre-existing friends. But aside from the fun of making music, it's just good to spend time with other people doing a thing together: it's good for my brain and my emotions.

What's good about something like a chorus is that it's an ongoing thing, not a one-time Meetup where if you don't make instant friends with someone you'll never see them again.

This might require some management of your schedule, though, because it sounds very cramped. And I worry that you don't have any time for exercise, unless you're going to the gym at work. Exercise will also help your mental/emotional state.
posted by suelac at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

I've found I'm more likely to keep up with an outside-of-work community if it involves doing something. So, I have a hard time motivating myself to go to meetups that are just let's-hang-out-at-the-bar-and-chat-about-X, but I'm a little better at things like volunteering at the bike coop, or getting active with political groups, or doing social bike rides.
posted by enn at 10:03 AM on June 15, 2018

I think the deal with hobbies is that you are supposed to meet with other people about them. Then you can discuss hobby you both are interested in. Like hiking or going to local maths seminar or whatever. Or volunteer for a cause you think is important. Can you uber home once or twice a week and then spend your time volunteering or meeting up about crocheting?
posted by Kalmya at 10:04 AM on June 15, 2018

Based on the title, I had expected your post to describe a 12-14 hour workday.

A social life is very much within reach based on the schedule you described.

You can create some more space if you can hack down your commute, but that's likely an expensive solution given your location. But if you can swing it, cutting the commute in half gives you an extra 7.5 hours per week to spend how you want - essentially an entire workday.

Even with the commute remaining the same, all of this time can be used for socializing:

Make dinner, eat, talk with bf [1hr 30min]
Watch a TV episode [1hr]
Read or do crossword in bed [30 min]

That's a three-hour block, so long as you eat while you're doing your $thing and can crash into bed when you get home.

As others have mentioned, social hobbies are the way to go here.
posted by craven_morhead at 10:06 AM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I had a similarly long commute, the thing that turned it from a chore into a joy was audio-books. Imagine, three hours a day to listen to your favorite books! And maybe one or two nights a week you could do an activity, even if it meant grabbing something to eat out, skipping the phone call and the 1 1/2 relaxation hours, and maybe even getting one hour of sleep less. But really, boring week nights at home is the price that a lot of us pay for a job we like with a long commute. It's not so bad if you make up for it on the weekends.

I’m also on low dose SSRI for anxiety and Wellbutrin for depression but they have only made me better at performing, not actually happier or more fulfilled.

That's right, they won't do that. You have to figure out how to do that yourself. But it can be done!
posted by ubiquity at 10:07 AM on June 15, 2018

Evening class or volunteer work can help with this a lot. If you can either find an evening activity once a week or wiggle your work schedule to get out a little earlier. I bounced around between several hobby related activities and volunteer positions before I found ones that worked, but it was an excellent investment in my happiness.

Also ariel silks classes are hugely fun even if you have no talent for it whatsoever.
posted by lepus at 10:09 AM on June 15, 2018

You sound a lot like me before I found my people. So I sympathize - not having friends is lonely, but going to meetups and not clicking with people or feeling awkward about it is also really lonely, and it's hard!

If you're interested in volunteering at all, I can personally vouch for One Brick as a lovely community. (That link is to the San Francisco chapter, but there's also a Silicon Valley one.) I haven't really gone to anything for the last couple years, but the idea is basically that you sign up for one-off volunteer events (so it's low-commitment, and you can try out a bunch of different organizations/venues for volunteering), and then afterward everyone goes out for drinks or pizza. A lot of the same people show up to each events, and in my experience they're really friendly and welcoming! I did get much more of a community sense from it than I did from most random Meetups I joined (and I did end up going to a few birthday parties and baby showers as a result of it, too).
posted by sunset in snow country at 10:17 AM on June 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've also got an hour-to-hour-and-a-half commute, and I'm feeling similarly "all I do is work and sleep." I'm trying to deal with it by reusing commute time or dinner time as social time — calling friends and family on my drive home (you could write emails or letters on the bus instead), and inviting friends over for low-key dinner sometimes during the week (the key there was realizing that it didn't have to be An Dinner Party, it could just be "hey, I'm making spaghetti, come over and eat and let's catch up").

I've also, relatedly, had to start sticking my neck out more and reaching out for friendship to people I didn't know well yet. The whole "low-key dinner invitation" thing in particular has really done that — I resolved to start having someone for dinner once every few weeks, and then that forced me to start thinking of people who weren't already invite-them-to-my-house level friends but could be. Sometimes it's been awkward. Mostly it's been okay.

Anyway, things are still not great, but it's better than it was before I started doing that stuff.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2018 [9 favorites]

lazing around is more like necessary resting, with that much work - 8 hours is normalized and required for most people, but it's objectively a lot. and sitting still on a bus for that long is exhausting -- more so than exercise because you don't get any benefit or residual pleasure out of it and more so than work because you don't get paid for it. I know you said you'd still waste time with a shorter commute, but with an extra two-plus hours in your day you could exercise in the morning and have energy to do something in the evenings (maybe--I know it's not guaranteed) without having to throw away what little leisure time you do have on health business.

but it sounds like geography/money is the biggest problem, which is why I don't think the real solution is feasible for you at the moment (which is scraping by on part-time work you can walk or bike to.) if you live that far from work and still have to share a studio, maybe the commute cannot be changed. but if there's anything you might enjoy doing that's midway between work and home? in order to have a shorter ride from work, a stimulating activity, a shorter ride home. If home is cramped and shared, it might be better to find a third place to do your reading and thinking. because:

That made me happy, but I gradually became more aware of how sad it was that I was doing an essentially social activity (having pre-dinner drinks) alone.

no no no no. you found one small thing that made you happy and took it away from yourself, give it back. the standard recs of gym, shorter commute, less work, you can't have just by wanting them, you have to also be lucky or rich, so they're not much good. but this, all you have to do is not tell yourself it's sad. it's not sad. it's fucking glamorous is what it is.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2018 [27 favorites]

What's your boyfriend's role in all of this? Is he okay with you putting more commitments on your calendar? What are his general feelings about your social life? Is there a disparity between the health of your individual social lives or work situations?

Remembering when I was in a similar situation, what made it particularly difficult was managing my then-partner's expectations for how I spent my time. He didn't necessarily want us to spend more time together, but he was sort of... contemptuous of me having more solitary/sedentary hobbies or structured hobbies that didn't necessarily lead to me making new friends. He also really couldn't relate to needing to develop one's social life in a very deliberate way, so he had little tolerance for me being bugged about going to Meetups but not really clicking. We also had a fairly large disparity in our commute times and how demanding our jobs were, so he couldn't really relate to my time crunch.

You have a very common adult problem that has some solutions, but they're all very difficult to implement if your partner just doesn't get it.
posted by blerghamot at 10:28 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

So this was my deal until recently, and it's absolutely the commute that's killing you.

First, make the commute into time for yourself. Audiobooks, podcasts, reading if you can read on a moving vehicle, internet time, knitting, learn a language, rock out to music you like, text your friends, edit photos, whatever.

Second, go back to having pre-dinner drinks alone. One of the weird things about commuting is that you're surrounded by people and don't have privacy, but it's not personal downtime the way doing an actual fun thing on your own is.

Third, set up activities with friends, keep going to trivia, find after-work things you want to do. Move your household management schedule around - there's no reason you can't set up household stuff to be when you want it to and to give you more time for the times you can go out.

Fourth, can you move closer in? I am not kidding, if you could cut the commute down you will be happier.
posted by bile and syntax at 10:32 AM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Are you able to fit 20 minutes of walking into your day? Lunch break? Get off transit a stop or two early? A pretty park near your home or office?

Music and a portable hobby for the transit. I knit socks. You could do sudoku or crossword puzzles or crochet granny squares or write one postcard each day - for voters or friends. Maybe add music or podcast to your morning getting ready routine?
posted by bilabial at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm going to go out on a limb and say if your dream job involves 3 hours of commuting a day, it's not your dream job.

I was in a similar position a year ago. Loved the job and the role (at least, you know, at first etc) but the commute (a little shorter, but on one of London's worst underground train lines) left me so tired, I basically did nothing with my evenings except rest, watch TV, play video games etc.

This year I started a role that halved the commute. All of a sudden I'm making a video game in my spare time, learning web dev, seeing my friends more and generally doing more.

So. Medium term, I'd start looking for that next dream job. The one that's closer to where you live. Commenter above says you have to be lucky or rich. Nah. No luckier than finding any other job, and rich has nothing to do with it really. There may be other factors like your industry, or where you live.
posted by Ted Maul at 10:35 AM on June 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh, one thing that did work in that last job was working from home when I could. You'll feel incredible at knocking-off time when you realise you don't have to contend with the commute.
posted by Ted Maul at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2018

That commute is really terrible. You could spend that time doing things that are meaningful (like socializing). Sure, you had this problem when you didn't have the commute, but your life is meaningfully better now and you still feel terrible, and the commute is likely to be a big part of that.

I mean, how are you supposed to make friends and participate in activities when you have 3 hours a day of doing nothing, alone?

I know in the bay area this may not be easily fixable, but I would suggest that you consider it.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

Here's my experience: I'm living alone for the first time in several years, and it turns out that living with another person was making me feel very self-critical about how I spend my time off - I guess having a witness was feeding into my low self-esteem. I think it is so important to cultivate a sense of identity and self-determination when you're living with a partner, especially in such close quarters.

And feeling ashamed of daily habits can be incredibly self-defeating. I think you can start experimenting with changes to your routine and figure out what kind of life would make you happy, but it's so important to still be at peace with yourself and accept that some days you need to chill out or prefer to be alone.
posted by toastedcheese at 11:00 AM on June 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

That commute is rough. Are there things you can do to make it more of "you-time" or productive time? Reading books, audiobooks, writing a book, making phone calls, knitting or other transportable handicrafts? Does the commute time change if you shift it to off-hours a little, by finding something to do closer to work right before or after work starts?

Other thoughts: Do you need nine hours of sleep, or would you be happier with a little less sleep but an hour at the gym? Are you enjoying the TV that you're watching for an hour? What do you do on the weekends - is that the mindless shopping time? Would you feel better if one of your weekend days was devoted to volunteering as a math tutor, exercise or other active stuff, or something that you were committed to that got you out the door at a certain time? Things like joining an improv troupe, or a dance class (a regular one, not just a drop in) or joining/starting a film critique club on meetup? Could you and your bf trade nights where one of you hangs out at a coffee shop for the evening so the other can have the apartment to yourself for a while? You mention "getting along" but are you really happy in your relationship?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2018

Speaking from experience: your commute is sucking the joy out of your life and draining your energy. If you can shorten it, you will likely be amazed at how much more energy and enthusiasm you have.
posted by Lexica at 11:17 AM on June 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I grew up in Silicon Valley (and still live on the fringes of the Bay Area), so I apologize for the ridiculously high rents and the terrible traffic. They really are effing hard to live with.

It's my impression that it can take eighteen months to settle in in a new place and make friends. And I guess it can take longer if you work and commute long hours and don't get out to play much. There was a theory on the blue this year, I think, about having to spend 80 hours with people before they feel like friends. I agree that some low effort social activities would brighten your week. I hear knitters are nice. I also hope you are passing your weekends pleasantly.

I can't find you 2 extra hours a day, but you can have nearly two extra hours a week if you can reclaim 15 minutes a day. My two suggestions are: watch a couple of short things on YouTube instead of a one hour program, and get up 8 minutes later every day if you can simplify your getting ready in the morning routine. (I had relatives that got up every day at 4:30am to be at work at 7:00, and their commute was not as long as yours. I didn't actually disapprove -- just thought they could be better rested if they could pull things together faster.)

If you prefer more social activities than your partner, maybe switch it up and go out even if partner doesn't. Or do a lot of texting while sitting at home during duller programs. (I like to read Metafilter while watching TV, even though my comprehension of both goes down.)

If you have to, go ahead and listen to someone ramble about Bitcoin for awhile (unless they are selling it to you), and perhaps the conversation will eventually reach a second topic, hopefully a more delightful one.
posted by puddledork at 11:28 AM on June 15, 2018

Would "You might be able to have it all, but you can't have it all at once" be a useful framing? You can work on tractable problems a few at a time without actually giving up on the others.

I'm picking out:

You just got a dream job and you still have to prove yourself -- this is an emotional letdown for a lot of people. You get over the mountain and not only is life not suddenly perfect but there's another mountain. Does it help to think of it as a temporary side effect? IME this resolves one way or another after you've worked there for a while and proved yourself.

You have not found Your People in your new place. Look, I know there are pure mathematicians and artists in the Bay Area and they are not all outdoorsy. I don't know any of them quite well enough to set you up a dinner, but I met a lot of them dancing at the Starry Plough or East Bay Waltz or Vintage Invasion, all of which are used to absorbing newcomers. There are probably some other cryptic ones at your job, so you can choose between looking there -- saves commute, slightly risky to cross the streams -- or looking for epicenters and figuring out how to get there. MSRI seminars are probably going to be terrible to get to... Makerspaces? I found Ace Monster Toys friendly and sensible. Looks like Noisebridge is moving, you could be one of the new crew in the new space.

You also don't have enough solitary time, what with the bus commute and small shared living space. Solving this seems like a matter of taste, yours and your partner's; certainly some people agree that Tuesday evening is A's time in the apartment alone, and Thursday evening B's, ideally with fun things for B and A to do. Going out for a walk instead of some TV?

Then there were two things that made me want to hug you, if you like hugs: "I have to be at least three different people throughout[...] looked out the window to see a bunch of people in nice clothes having a tipple and chatting in groups and I felt like crying.[...] Being alone makes me melancholy and being with people makes me hate myself afterward." I mean, if you were basically happy and not exhausted, having room for many aspects of your personality would be pleasant, and you'd like one or the other of solitude/company or even both! Therapy, I guess, and fixing the fixable to see if you cheer up.
posted by clew at 12:41 PM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

What leaped out to me in your question is "constant grind." Are you sure your meds are still working well for you? Because my life sounds very much like yours, work, commute, routine, and when my depression acts up all that "cozy routine" turns into "ugh, grind" for me. Seconding that give yourself back your something good - enjoy that drink and view!
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 12:45 PM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

When I was young and didn't want just the cozy routine you describe, I solved this by joining my employer's ballroom dance group. Lesson, dancing, dinner. There may be an equivalent (Argentine Tango, Rueda) at your employer?

Or more generally, there may be social events/clubs (trivia? A capella?) unrelated to your workgroup that you can partake in before commuting home.
posted by batter_my_heart at 1:29 PM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hello fellow Bay Area commuter! I would suggest that you ask if you can work from home one or two days a week -- most companies are ok with this around here (ymmv obvs).

Also, you may find that your commute is significantly shortened by hanging out in the city for an hour or two -- go grab dinner somewhere, or have your apertif at a bar with nice ambiance. If it's a bart thing you may not shorten your transit time, but if you are on a bus for any portion going through rush hour I guarantee this will help.

Even if it doesn't shorten the commute, there's nothing quite like wandering around the city in the evening and meandering into a fun spot or two. I have an hour long commute each way and when traffic is too awful, I repair to a nearby (or not) cocktail bar and have a drink and maybe a snack while I wait for the bridge to calm down. It's a nice way to feel a bit of freedom from the grind at the end of the day, and I find I'm happier when I make this a regular part of my week.
posted by ananci at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

I'm thinking the part you have to tinker with is the three hour commute. First of all, is there anything or anyone very near your place of work that you can get some good time out of before you do the commute. It may be you are way out in an industrial park, or that the commuter bus only leaves at 5:20 and if you miss that bus you have no way of getting home except a $200 taxi. But look into the resources in that neighbourhood, even if you are in an industrial park, and see if you can find something to do and someone to do it with.

You could take up a health program and jog after work, or skip even if the only resources available are a parking lot. For best results try to make it a social health program and get some people to join you. Basketball or other games is another possibility. If there are more resources than just a parking lot, you can take up nature studies and nature walks in the weedy fallow land that isn't mowed. Or you can take up sketching the sky, buildings and verdant ditches even.

If there are stores, residential areas and more, then you have tons of possibilities. Is there a dance class you can take? activities in a church hall? Volunteer opportunities?

Try and find some people who can do these things with you. Presumably the bf can't make it because it would take him an hour and a half to get out there, but you can try your co-workers if it is a health related, volunteer, or leisure activity. If you have siblings or friends in town, ask if any of them can meet you somewhere near work for an activity.

But if you have to be on the bus at 5:20 then the next thing to do is figure out a hobby you can do on the bus. You're lucky. You might have to drive. If you are riding and have a seat you can use a tablet to read, or you can do kumihimo, or you can study sign language using an app, or Spanish, or listen to audio books. Meditation is another possibility. Lots of things can be done on the bus.

Very likely you are mentally exhausted as a result of being at work and out of the house for so long. So one thing you might try is napping on the bus - put on noise cancelling headphones, close your eyes and see if you can go into a semi doze sitting without missing your stop.

Make sure you have something to eat to avoid a blood sugar crash, and that you are properly hydrated before you leave work. You may want to figure out if there is a bathroom you can use at any of your transfer points if there are any so that you can safely take on a lot of water without getting uncomfortable.

The next point where you can tinker with what you do is that dinner/eat/talk with bf hour and a half. Set yourself a goal that only requires ten minutes practice a day, and fit it into that time. You could do duolingo. You could call a shut-in. You could edit an entry on Wikipedia. You could knit a row on your scarf. You could do a Celtic knotwork shape. You could do ballet exercises. Also be picky with that hour of TV every night. Make sure that it is something that really feeds your brain, such as movies that you have chosen with forethought to fit in with a theme, not just watching The Price is Right.

Find an on-line group or page that is about the type of books you read, and find out what you should be reading so that you are not just mindlessly reading another badly written bestselling thriller that has the same formula as his last 37 books. If you like thrillers find a thriller reading community who will connect you to thrillers that will break the mould a bit and be something new.

Get some exercise somewhere in your day. You sound really tired. Consider changing your bedtime. It may be that you are going to bed at a point where you don't actually fall asleep because you are not tired enough yet, or have gotten your second wind. You might find that going to bed an hour earlier and skipping the TV show would get you out of bed two hours earlier and give you time to get outside and meet the neighbours who are walking their dogs and do some gardening before you take your shower. Or you might sleep until the correct waking up time, but later in the week find you had more energy and enthusiasm and could use that time better than your routine evening.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:41 PM on June 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just a quick thanks to everyone. This

it’s fucking glamorous is what it is.

is making me feel tremendously loved by some force in the universe. :)

For the record, 15 minutes of my commute each way is walking, and I walk on my lunch hour, so I do get some exercise in during the day. (I get the arbitrary 10,000 steps in at least.) I have noticed that more strenuous workouts are better for my mood than walking, so I would like to add those back in. A classic annoying thing in my life is that exercising makes me feel better, but being achy and sore makes me tremendously exhausted, like I consistently oversleep after working out even when I think I’m taking it easy. I might try going really slow and seeing what that gets me.

Unfortunately I really do need 9 hours of sleep; I’ve experimented with this a lot and have found that 7.5 is sustainable for a few days but ultimately exhausting, 8 must mean waking up in the middle of a REM cycle because I always feel like shit, and 9 is restorative without grogginess and majorly tamps down my anxiety.

I’m also really lucky to have a gym at work and in my apartment complex, but for some reason the only workouts that have ever stuck with me are group fitness or jogging. I’ll do some experimenting.

Also hilariously I live in the city and commute out to the greater Bay Area (it is cheaper for $REASONS) because if it were the reverse I would absolutely hang out in the city after work! But I’m not spending more time in the ‘burbs than I have to. :)
posted by stoneandstar at 4:53 PM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Your commute is brutal. Been there, done that and it’s a recipe for resentment and burnout. Change that and then you have the time to change everything else.
posted by Jubey at 7:16 PM on June 15, 2018

Feel you! Used to live in studio basement apartment with reverse metro commute to the suburbs in the DC area. Would not willing stay around work (nor was there anything to do) for my life.

Why not:
Commute home [1hr 30min]
Go to group activity workout [1hr]
Make dinner, eat, talk with bf [1hr 30min]
Read or do crossword in bed [30 min]
Sleep [9hr]
posted by eglenner at 7:31 AM on June 17, 2018

You need an exercise hobby that can be social. I like rollerskating. I follow a place called "the church of 8 wheels" on instagram which looks like it has fun roller disco nights and it's in San Francisco if you want to try that. IF not, figure out what other physical hobby you want to try, google it up, get out there and move.
posted by WeekendJen at 7:43 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Two particular things are bad: the commute and the lack of space at home.

Have you been at the job for a year? Because if so, it's time to take that 'best job' resume and move somewhere better. You can surely be offered something that pays equivalently well (adjusted for the cost of living in the area), and just as interesting (maybe more!) in a more livable city. You could easily end up with a shorter commute and more living space.

"I worked for a name company in the Bay area," and "I worked for a little-known startup in the Bay area (doing really cool stuff)" are both good selling points for getting a job offer elsewhere. And if it is a name place? That name will be a boon to your resume for years.

Tech is everywhere now. Minneapolis, Denver, Austin, Raleigh, and Nashville are all not-coast cities that come to mind for me, that have tech positions. Maybe take a look at a region of the country you'd be interested in moving to, and start researching what's available.
posted by ElisaOS at 12:52 PM on June 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

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