A brave new world

Ben Lindsay
March 24, 2021

I started a new job this year. I’ve been finding my footing and trying to figure out where I should be applying myself for the last three weeks month and a half; I’ve already given myself a mouth ulcer from stress.

The role itself isn’t hugely stressful. In fact, I’ve not really had any pressure put on me from my new boss; we’ve barely spoken because we have been working remotely.

I’m still working in a startup, just in a very different one now, and in a very different role. I’ve hoped from bootstrapping smart jewellery, to a fairly well funded digital marketplace for heavy machinery. I’m no longer a founder steering the ship, although still a sizeable cog in the machine. It feels very different, but also very similar.

I always thought if I ended up back in a job that there would be relief from a sense of direction; being directed in my actions rather than having to figure out what is best. That lacking of direction has kept me awake for many nights, caused some of the worst anxiety of my life, and I miss it.

I suppose I shouldn’t really be that surprised. The mouth ulcer wasn’t a surprise. I often say I enjoy stress, which I think makes people think I want to be a part of the ‘grind hard 24/7’ bro club. That mentality can be toxic, and I try not to endorse it, but I really do enjoy stress. I’m not sure why, and I definitely think it’s a problem, but it can also be really useful.

I had a chat this week about good stress and bad stress. Supposedly, good stress comes from having lots of different things to do that you enjoy, whereas bad stress can come from dread. Dread from not having met targets, a constantly growing to-do list, or a difficult conversation you know is needed. I thought that was interesting because I like and dislike both sides of this framing of stress.

I also started to run last week four weeks ago. I used to run a good bit when I was younger, and generally exercise a lot more. I think I stopped because I couldn’t afford a gym membership when I went to university. Or at least that’s what I tell myself...

I started to run and I’m starting to write again this week. Maybe I’m trying to be a real human again for 2021, or maybe I think I need the headspace. I don’t really think I do a lot of thinking these days. I’m not sure any of us do. We all have such quick access to amusement, from our phones, TVs, the internet. We’re not really forced to just sit and think.

Writing, running, or taking some time to sit and think is a bit like cutting the electricity. Whenever we were younger and the power went out my family would end up sitting in the same room together with a few candles lit, and we would talk. It sounds terribly sad, but we would have some really great quality time together telling stories and laughing when there was no electricity. If there was, we’d probably just have watched tv.

Thinking space lets me talk to myself. I end up coming up with new ideas, or exploring some thinking space. I really enjoy it. Maybe I still hate running but just really like to think? Maybe Mo Farah is a philosopher that just happened to be a great runner? Maybe I wouldn’t have thought of that quip if I didn’t write this? Maybe no one else finds it funny? But I do....

On a side note, I wrote this a few weeks ago as you might be able to tell. I didn't post it because I didn't think it was done. It was done. Whatever it is that you're putting off, just do it!

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