Heading Back to Work: In Person

Tomorrow’s the day. Almost 5 months to the day after last setting foot in my library, I’ll be going back to work. In many ways, this is (obviously) exciting. School is coming back! Students are coming to campus! I get to see people on a regular basis again! But (obviously) this is also stressful for a variety of reasons as well. School might close again at any moment! COVID! I have to see people on a regular basis again!

Honestly, the biggest hang up I’m having right now is that over the past while, I’ve regained my sense of composure. I’ve learned to live under the current set of circumstances. I know how working from home works, and I’ve got it all down pat by now. More importantly, I’ve reached a balance with worrying about the future and figuring out what I’m doing on a daily or weekly basis.

But to be honest, that balance is pretty darn precarious. It doesn’t take much at all for me to start stressing out again. The “balance” I’ve found currently is much different than the balance I had pre-COVID. Back then, I had all four feet of my chair on the floor, so to speak. Something could hit me from a different direction, and I wasn’t thrown too much for a loop.

Right now, I feel like I’ve got two feet of my chair on the floor, and I’m tilted back. Balanced, yes, but push me the wrong way, and I begin to flail my arms around wildly as I try to keep from falling backward. That’s the sort of new balance in my life. Clearly, this isn’t a wonderful situation to be in, though I imagine it’s one shared by many of you as well.

As I’m getting ready to actually go back to work, and I’m facing the realities of the semester in front of me, I’m beginning to rethink a number of things. Is this really the time to be doing a kitchen renovation, for example. As Denisa and I were working through the budget again, looking at all the aspects of the project that we need to address, I was getting really worried. “What would help?” Denisa asked.

“$20,000,” was my quick answer. I meant it as a joke (since I was fairly certain Denisa didn’t have 20k squirreled away somewhere), but once I’d said it, something clicked in my head. With an additional 20k, I’d know we had enough to cover contingencies as they arose during the renovation. Right now, I think we have enough, as long as everything goes according to plan, and no other crises crop up between now and December.

Because of course that’s something we can count on, judging by the last five months . . .

However, if we were to wait to do this kitchen renovation until the spring, that 20k would be a lot closer to a reality. We’d have that much more time to save. Denisa would have more classes she’d have taught. I’d have some checks from my writing that would come in. Honestly, I think we’d probably have that 20k by April. So would it make more sense to wait another half year to do the renovation?

It doesn’t take a genius to know what I would advise a friend who came to me in the same situation. The problem is when I’m personally invested. When it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and something that I’ve been looking forward to. I hate to have COVID claim another thing this year, but . . .

I’m really stretched thin. And we have all these other projects happening on the house. (And have I mentioned we found out the back roof might need to be redone before winter?)

I’ve blogged before about how when I get really stressed out, I have to periodically look through my life for ways to reduce stress. And this year, it’s beginning to look like that’ll have to be the kitchen renovation. It’s possible I’ll feel differently once I’m actually back at work and feel like I have more control over my life, but I don’t know when that feeling will actually kick in. The amount of relief I felt when I thought about just waiting until we had more money to do the renovation seems like a pretty big sign right there . . .


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