Quitting, and My Occupational Phantom Limb
By @alexcornell // 02.18.14
When I quit my job two weeks ago, the array of sentiments that followed was predictable, but also complex, in one very specific and intriguing way.
Reducing my responsibilities substantially, in an instant, was of course relieving, but it’s been complicated by a perpetual sense of muddled, nonexistent urgency. Not unlike a phantom-limb, I still feel the presence of my professional duties. The rhythmic flow of tasks, emails and meetings had become so constant, so familiar, that my present mind has almost fabricated a reality where they still exist.
The primary symptom of this occupational phantom-limb is compulsive phone monitoring. Despite my new schedule, I still adhere to my old routine of pulling out my phone every few minutes, expecting important emails, reminders and events. Of course now, my phone repeatedly presents me with a striking lack of responsibilities. I can holster the device, temporally placated, though always only minutes away from the cycle repeating itself.
It’s a cathartic feeling overall, but it’s nagging too. These ghostly responsibilities can’t be addressed, as such the sensation of their obligation can’t be remedied. Itches that can’t be scratched because they don’t exist.
I am of course slowly replacing old tasks with new, and this process of methodical substitution is exciting. In this way I feel sort of like a meticulous newt, regrowing the limbs that build and make, and doing so with careful deliberation.