That Old “Work” Feeling
I have been involved in many different lines of work, like most people I've met throughout my life. The various jobs I've held required lots of different responsibilities between them, from taking food orders to moving furniture to supervising monstrous little kids.
These couldn't be more different than the job I have right now, which allows me to sit in front of a screen and type all day. Still, as individualistic in terms of duties and the physical actions that take place within these occupations are, I have found that they all have one blatant characteristic that binds them all together as jobs. Regardless of what kind of work I'm getting paid to do or the environment I am forced to be in, every job gives you that universal “work” feeling.
It's a draining yet acquired state of discomfort that our individual work location inflicts upon the human body whether you spend the day cutting hair or entering data into a computer. It doesn't matter if you've never gotten your hands dirty or had to pitch the same stupid lines over the phone for hours on end. Once you've attained that universal feeling, you can officially say that you have indeed had a long, hard day at work.
We have all been there before. Tired, antsy, feeling like the room is closing in on you as an eternal source of stress and dissatisfaction. Going through the motions of an average work day and making sure you fulfill everything you were assigned to do is suddenly effecting your well being as if it was dehumanizing slave labor that causes you a great amount of pain to engage in.
Your body just seems to be stuck in this never ending uncomfortable state from being somewhere it doesn't want to be, doing things it doesn't want to do. The most mind boggling aspect of this sensation is that even if you don't have to think or physically do anything for a prolonged period of time, your brain still cannot relax or enjoy the stillness of the moment like it could on any other day. It's probably because you are so used to being stressed in this specific place that whenever the annoyances vanish you just find yourself trying to be ready for them to come back again.
This is why the simple act of sitting at a table or waiting for customers at a desk will still make you more and more lethargic and anxious by the second. You haven't moved yet you feel the need to stretch and even when you sit back in your chair, you can't sink into it like you could at home. However, as mentioned before, you're used to feeling this way and rather than examining your strange state of discomfort you just attribute these bodily changes to that same old feeling you get from being at work.
An easier way to identify the feeling is thinking about the way your body reacts to the act of leaving to go home. If the fresh air from that first step outside at the end of the day sends you into a euphoric frenzy that makes you feel like you've been trapped inside a dungeon for the past six hours, you've been stricken with that good old “work” feeling.
If you experience a deep animosity towards whoever or whatever has caused you to get up after that first plop down on the couch when you get home, you probably had a worse than average case of said feeling all day long. If the thought of going back to work and having to embark on the same robotic tasks tomorrow induces the same wave of nerves you experienced before your first road test, consult your local physician because there's a good chance you're still under the spell.
A number of things could be making you feel this way. One explanation is that your body is becoming tense in response to what your mind has just told it: you can't run away from being in this place so you need to focus and ignore your body's urge to run away or fall asleep. As you already know, both the mind and body develop a natural distaste for any activity you do many times over and over again that doesn't bring you any physical or mental pleasure, so completing the same tasks seem to become more difficult and taxing rather than carefree or automatic.
While at work, your body is engaging in certain actions that don't require the most earnest, healthy quality of thought. This is because the “right” way to do things at work isn't usually how you would do them yourself. You may answer questions with responses that you didn't create or pretend you care about something in order to summon the effort to complete a meaningless project.
You may have to lie to people, deceive them with ambiguous answers, and sometimes even fake an entire personality just to make your encounters with others seem more easygoing. These actions may make the day go by faster but they are hard on your brain. In fact, you're putting your mind through hell when you do these things, forcing it to work in a way it wasn't meant to work. That universal feeling derives from the draining beat down you put on your mental process the whole day, resisting its natural impulses and improvising itself into confusion.
I've come to conclude that being completely overwhelmed by this feeling is a sign that the work day got the best of you. You may not have been “busy” or “swamped” with responsibilities every second but the day did in fact take a lot out of you, and that is why subjecting yourself to certain seemingly harmless behaviors can drain you of so much energy and willpower.
As excruciating as it may be at times, the “work” feeling unites employees around the world who are unknowingly giving their heart and soul just to get through the day. If you ever wondered if you have ever really worked a day in your life, simply see if you can relate to any of the aforementioned experiences because if you have, consider yourself a seasoned member of the American work force.
Sean Levinson | Elite.
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