Thursday, October 25, 2012

After We Decide

Once, I had a job as a proofreader at a used car magazine. Actually, the company published three or four used vehicle buy-and-sell publications. Auto Trader, Truck Trader, Heavy Equipment Trader, etc. Ads were collected by sales people and telephone reps, then given to data entry clerks who input the material. From there, it went to a few designers who laid everything out, and from there it went to the proofreaders, who made sure everything matched the original intake orders, and that the designers hadn’t accidentally mixed up the photos or bled half an ad off the page.

I worked two days a week, from 9am until the papers were put to bed, about 2 in the morning. The office was out in the middle of nowhere, which meant I had to take a $40 cab ride home when my shift was over. I made $8 an hour.

I thought it was a good job. It was ‘in my field’, and the people I worked with were nice, and at midnight, when we were all going a bit cross-eyed and stir-crazy, we’d mob the coffee machine and then have ‘chair races’ down the hallway.

Then I decided, for a whole variety of reasons, that I was ready to move on from Halifax and move to Toronto. I gave my notice at my ‘good job’ – and then a very strange thing happened.

I realized I hated that job. HATED IT. Hated the horrible bus ride in the morning. Hated the expensive cab ride. Hated my micro-manager boss. Hated proofing those stupid little ads “2003 HONDA Civic, 4-dr, 90K, AC, PW, PL, new tires, red, $4000 obo, call now this beauty won’t last!” (Just typing that gave me a brain aneurysm.) I hated how exhausted I felt the next day, like my eyes had been burnt to a crisp. Mostly I hated how underpaid and underappreciated we all were there, how we were treated like simpletons and would-be-criminals. Just hated it.

(Still liked my coworkers though. How could I not? CHAIR RACES.)

I don’t want to sound spoiled – I mean, overall, it wasn’t a terrible job and probably better than other jobs I could have had. But my point is that it wasn’t a job I was happy about – and I didn’t even realize it until I gave myself permission to quit. I was in total denial about how much I disliked it. I think it was a sort of self-preservation thing – there was no point in being miserable, so I just never admitted to myself how unhappy I was.

Once I gave my notice, my brain saw a way out and it decided to get real honest, real fast. I was overwhelmed with my now-very-close-to-the-surface real and true feelings about that job. It was all I could do to ride out my last two weeks.

Why am I telling you this story? Because ever since my decision to go back to Weight Watchers, those same sorts of feelings have been coming out. It’s like my brain has been in ‘self-preservation mode’ – Things aren’t that bad, you look fine, you feel fine, why waste all that mental energy on dieting, I mean, you have real priorities and no time to be so frivolous, and anyway, it’s no big deal that you had to buy plus-size pants again, I mean, really, who cares??

Now that I’ve decided to go back, my brain has, once again, gotten real honest, real fast. Oh my god, you are actually massive, how come you didn’t notice this happening, you have literally bags and bags of clothes that don’t fit anymore, I mean look how thin you used to be, I can’t even imagine what people must be saying about you, Lord woman, have you no shame??

It’s been an emotionally draining couple of days, to say the least. I actually found myself staring at my reflection in the bathroom mirror today and thinking I MUST have put on 20 lbs in the last two days, because SURELY I was not this big before. Couldn’t have been. I would have noticed.

I would have noticed.

Our brains are tricky things, aren’t they?


  1. It's amazing how we can walk around feeling pretty good about ourselves, and then if something makes us come to an unhappy reckoning with our weight (such as a photograph, or in my case a trip to the mall last weekend) it's just like BLAMMO. And then the brain starts with all the negative self talk which is not any more helpful than the denial! I just can't QUITE make myself believe that being 50 pounds over my ideal weight is healthy...

    And I know this wasn't the point of your story (which was a really great illustration), but I have a good friend who does ad layouts for some kind of automotive trade magazine and he LOVES it.

    1. Reading this comment made me realize that I was a bit wrong in my post -- I guess NEITHER are really the whole truth. It's not true that there's 'nothing wrong', but neither is it true that what's wrong is 'OMG worst thing ever'. Tricky, tricky brains!!

      That's funny about your friend. To be honest, I can see how it would be a good job under the right circumstances -- different management and not having to walk around alone in a deserted industrial park at 2am, for instance. :)

  2. I know what you mean. Before I decided to lose weight I didn't think I looked all *that* bad. After I started changing my habits, I realized just how bad it really was.

    1. It's amazing how strong denial can be, isn't it? And I consider myself a pretty self-aware person for the most part. :S