Thursday, September 06, 2007

Back To Relative Normal

So, I'm out of the rabbit hole for the time being. In the end, the only way to stop feeling like I was being devoured by work was to finish the work, and that's what I did through a series of consecutive 17-billable-hour days The anxiety and my inability to cope (without eating trash) with it is another issue. I dealt with that too just by pushing through, doing what I needed to do, and trying my best, along with one or two strategically placed Clonzapins.

The suggestions about kittens, yoga, 15 minute walks, healthy snacks, and incorporating all of those things into my daily life as my life, not just the things I do to cope with my life were all excellent. They all speak to this struggle I've had now for years to attain (or reattain) a sense of balance. Although I procrastinate, on the flip side I regularly function like a workaholic - throwing myself completely into my work during crunch times, with no time or ability to make time for non-work things (the things that, if I did them regularly as part of my life would give me a sense of overall balance). In that regard, I'm no different than a lot of lawyers working for large New York firms (and many others in many different professions and cities, I imagine).

Recently, a friend of mine, a lawyer at my former law firm, described the situation of being a type-A personality at a New York law firm as similar to being "an alcoholic working in a bar." There's some truth in that analogy. I like doing well and I like pats on my head. I am in a sense addicted to working hard, doing well. Put someone like me in an environment that defines success in their employees, defines "doing well," as working 300 hours a week and I'm in serious trouble because there's a huge part of me that wants to do it, that has trouble not rising to the occasion, at least without being overcome by near-crippling anxiety and guilt. It's hard to refrain from drinking, particularly when you've been brought up to believe that you are supposed to drink, that you are good if you drink and weak if you refrain.

So, how does one cope in that situation? In my case, I jump into rabbit holes where nothing else exists except for work and I don't come out until I've finished the work. It's similar to how I've approached studying for final exams for most of my life. It was fun while a student, but now, not so much - particularly when it messes up my gym schedule or leaves me too tired to motivate.

I don't know what the answer to any of this is yet. A few days ago, I mentioned to a women's rights lawyer twenty years my senior how I still hadn't managed to attain a sense of balance since leaving law school and starting to practice. She laughed and said she hadn't figured it out yet either. Then she suggested leaving New York and moving to San Francisco.

Art found here.


M said...

moving from nyc to san francisco? isn't that "same song different verse"? if you want off the hamster wheel, maybe a smaller, more provincial city would be better.

Starshine said...

Or Los Angeles! If you're heading west, my vote is LA! ;)

Gypsy said...

Balance is so hard to find. Good luck figuring it out. Do you ever think of moving?

gravelly said...

Brought up to drink, if you didn't, you were thought to be weak???????

Buttercup said...

Gravelly, That's not what I said or meant. I was making an analogy.

gravelly said...

Got it now, sorry, I just read the last part. Kramar