It started as a flippant description of how I was feeling about work – my friend described his graduate job as driving a car with no windows – I felt mine was like playing uncomfortably on monkey bars in the wind. However the past couple of months or so I feel like that description is taking on a life of its own. It’s scary how accurately is describes everything I do, not just with work….

Like playing on monkey bars in the playground, whatever I’m doing, whether work or life, I should be enjoying it. It’s meant to be fun, people ask how I am and expect a positive response.

After all the lunchtimes of playing on the monkey bars, or years of living experience, years of training, I should be used to it by now, even good at it.

But in reality, it’s pretty tough! Muscles strain in the arms, the metal grips are cold and uncomfortable. Gusts of wind whistle past to knock you off balance. Things I should have predicted, but didn’t see coming. A few gusts from the past week: trying to cancel Virgin Media account from where I moved out of over 6months ago…DPA=nightmare. Discovering that my (foreign) driver’s licence expired on my birthday and I can’t renew it til I’m physically at home again. Empty fridge, dirty laundry. Forgetting 10 hours or so on my timesheet at work and now no idea what to write down.

There are so many things that knock me off balance, which make me just want to hide in a corner til their gone. Except I can’t, life doesn’t work like that. Like on monkey bars, you can’t just go away and come back to the same point. For a start, the ground is a long way down, and there’s already a queue of children behind you ready to take your place. The only thing to do is to grip a bit tighter for a bit.

At the moment I’m lucky enough to have parents and family willing to help out, even from 1,000’s miles away. Like the teacher’s hands helping hold me up when I get stuck. But really I’m getting a bit old for people to have to drive hours on ‘mercy missions’ (as my aunts call them, I’m very grateful though I think that’s a bit melodramatic) to sort me out, and anyway, like on the monkey bars, needing help takes away the fun after a while!

During lulls, the constant uncomfortableness goes away a tiny bit when I release my grip and take a swing forwards, yet that then opens the perils of dangling over a dusty hard floor that can only be painful and isn’t where I want to be, it’s what I’ve worked hard to avoid. Working my way along the monkey bars is so difficult and exhausting. It seems endless and the only end in sight is the end: where it drops off and the game is over. done. finito. Back to earth, 6 feet under. each rung past can only be celebrated in terms of having left the previous rung. Or getting one more rung towards the end. Either way not a very reassuring celebration.

It’s not all negative – on the up side, sometimes you can get into a nice rhythm, swinging from one rung to the next. Building up momentum each bar seems easier to reach, it’s practically fun as you twist your hips side to side, you bet that people watching think you’re pretty cool and want to be like you. At some point though, there’s the sting of lactic acid building up, another gust of wind comes, someone laughs when they see your zipper half down. And it all starts again.

The words ‘self fulfilling prophecy’ come to mind (SG’s – Stress Guy’s – favourite phrase). I need to find a more appealing image and maybe that will help a tiny bit. Maybe, I live in hope. On the whole it is a fun game. If it weren’t, I’d just hop off and play on the see-saw, right?

Or I just need to get a grip…

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