Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Value of the Safety Valve

My life feels like it does this on a daily basis.
Whether it's a biproduct of some hitherto-undiagnosed anxiety disorder or simply a facet of my usually-manic nature, I'm never quite sure I have a handle on things, and the instant it appears I do not I have a tendency to panic. And while I can stave off the worst effects of that sort of panic by either focusing on the immediate task at hand or forcing a prayer, nothing that gives my mind a few extra seconds of clarity actually stops the physical symptoms of the panic. To see me wide-eyed and flush is to see me working 99 shifts of 100, and it's not necessarily because I'm bad at my job.

It's actually a compounding issue of mine: I hate changes of plan and I can't read people. Accordingly, being told we're running out of X often sounds more accusatory than advisory and no amount of reminding myself that there's laws of thermodynamics that define the maximum speed at which I can cook something seems to stave off the feeling that the person asking for the chicken strips or ~90gram beef patties feels like I'm not doing my job well enough.

Fortunately the typical reaction after the fact is to laugh at the panic and congratulate myself for a job well done, but even then, it takes the more enjoyable parts of my job (those rare facets where I'm actually transforming food into edible food) and attaches to them a cost - I'm free to work my favourite positions of the kitchen whenever possible, but I'm going to shred my heart and stress my brain in doing so.

And, ultimately, that's perfectly fine. Something we have to remember is that, unless you believe in perfect predestination, nothing is under control. The universe is a messy and chaotic place and the unpredictability of quantum mechanics is enough that even the most brilliant of human minds could not perfectly plan out fifteen minutes, let alone a whole day. Moreover, business is a balancing act in which you must carefully ensure you have just barely enough staff to get the job done without having so many persons on board that people can stand around during a rush and waste time.

The trick, in my view, to managing the stress from your Really Fun Job, is to play at least as hard as you work. And it doesn't matter whether you're heaping on hours in the book room, logging some screen time, or whatever it is you do - just make sure you keep the house in order too.

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