At work when I've gone for interviews for promotions, the one question they always ask is, "How do you deal with stressful situations?"
I botched the answer for several of my interviews, until somebody finally had mercy on me and told me in a side meeting that the right answer is, "I rely on my crutches or immerse myself in distracting activities." It helps to name them in the interview too, like having a cigarette (his example, not mine), going for a run (again, not the first thing that would have come to my mind), or playing a computer game.
Fast forward a bit... I've given the right answer (referred to computer games specifically) and secured the promotion.
But then the computer game is a large factor in a marital dispute, and I decide to get rid of it.
Enter the stressful situation. Work is busy. All we managers are being pressed for more productivity from our teams while being mindful of our required daily duties, and also being attentive to the general needs of the whole project moment by moment. In short, we're being called to micro-manage, which involves getting up from our desks every five minutes and reminding our team members of their obligations, and nobody likes it. But we've got to do it. The big bosses have their attention on us.
And I have surrendered access to my primary stress-relieving tool, so I don't unwind at the end of each day like I had been doing a week ago. I'm entering new days still tightly wound from the old one, and then I get wound tighter still... it's a bad cycle.
No, I'm not trying to make a case for re-installing the game.
It's this whole concept of stress and the accepted ways to deal with it that I'm struggling with. I must adapt; this can't go on or I'll start sprouting ulcers. I need a new way to unwind.
TV doesn't do it for me. Putting a puzzle together, or reading, or going for a run... these are chores, tasks, mere distractions which don't release my wound-up flat spring. To unwind, I need to control something.
By control, I don't mean dominate or boss around. I mean I need to do something which causes my creative juices to flow. In Morrowind I could live a fantasy life and do pretty much anything I wanted. I built a fort out of stolen pillows once; that was cool. I climbed to the top of the mountains, cast a jumping spell, and leaped from peak to peak without ever losing my footing. I arrayed myself in the most absurd combination of clothing I could find. These are things which were spawned in my head with little outside influence; in a sense I was creating.
The problem with that type of creating is that it's like shovelling stardust into a black hole. It's wasted effort; no good can come of it. No lives are changed, no souls touched, and no marriages are improved when I fuel the unquenchable furnace of digital fantasy with my divinely-modeled creative spirit.
Perhaps this is an opportunity for me to blog more (how many bloggers say stuff like that, eh?). Perhaps I'll write more about my two British time-travelling medieval characters, or perhaps I'll try to get that children's story published. Or finish that wooden toy car sitting on my workbench. Or heck, even the half-done model of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-E collecting dust on my shelf here.
Creating something actually tangible should prove far more rewarding, as I can use the energy contained in that spring for something which can actually contribute to my legacy.
Still, that kind of focus is new for me, and it will be a struggle to keep at those things. Watch this space.