No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
- John Donne
It’s been a few crazy weeks for me lately. Now that the dust has settled again somewhat, I’ve noticed I’m immediately back in a reflexive mood that earlier weeks didn’t really allow me to have. Which in my case means I’ve read three books in a single week and have been thinking out loud about them with my SO, bless her patient heart.
One of my realizations is that I now know precisely which two factors stress me the fuck out. I don’t get phased by having a lot of work in front of me. Gimme a good axe and I’ll chop through it no problem. It’s having a lot of responsibility that gets me. There’s a large overlap between work to do and responsibility, but for me the difference is whether I’m the one who needs to figure out how to solve for x or not. Whether it’s my call or not to make.
The second factor is that if I’m responsible, I need to have some idea of how to connect the dots. Some vague (but not too vague) path from here to there. Doesn’t mean I need to have done it before - I can learn on the job - but if I don’t know how the hell I am going to solve something and it’s my responsibility to do so? That’s when I become waayyy too stressed out.
Which has happened numerous times in the past weeks. What’s also happened is that I’ve found my Get Out of Jail Free card, which is to ask for help with finding that path. It sounds simple, because that’s what it is for seemingly everyone else, but for me it’s not in my nature to do so. I’ve always solved things alone. I’ve always felt like an island, especially in my at times incredibly lonely teens. To relinquish my responsibility, my independence even in the slightest thus feels like defeat. It’s an admission of dependency that surely resembles a failure on my part to be the strong island I want to think I am.
Even though it really isn’t. I’m not here to fix the world on my own - I am part of the continent. Part of a network of colleagues who really can and do help me out when I need them. Supported by my SO, my friends, my family. Who are really there when I need them, if only I can muster the courage to just ask.
So that’s my goal for the foreseeable future. To keep asking.