On top of the three other things you have to do today, you forgot to eat again. You look at your calendar: two out five meetings left. You shed a tear, which evolves into a light sob. For two minutes hot tears roll down your face and trickle to your chin and onto your collar. You wipe off some of the remaining wetness off your face and feel a little better, it feels as if some of that stress was carried away with the tears.
The work continues to pile, and it seems there’s no end in sight. The first meeting was brutal; someone’s connection was spotty so you used the opportunity to turn off your video to save bandwidth, but you were really hiding your face and also took the opportunity to mute yourself to cry because that meeting was a code review for your code. The reviewers, your team, discover a handful of bugs. It felt as if your coding style, skill, and ability as a developer was being ripped to shreds. You tearfully made tickets for each bug while everyone was still taking jabs. It's mingled with an occasional unmute from you to utter an “ok” so it seems seems as if you’re still engaged. That went on for about 90 minutes, 30 minutes longer than planned on the calendar. You felt your stomach drop as conversation extended 10 minutes over the allotted time.
The next meeting is a 1:1 with your manager in three hours. At least you’ve got something to talk about this week: you’re focused on fixing the bugs along with the trivial, but embarrassing, whitespace that your team pointed out. Their code reviews are generally spotless. You wonder: does your team even like you? They must have not liked that thing you said in the chat the other day. Was your tone off? You should have threw in an emoji in the message to take the edge off. You should scroll back to re-read it to see if you need to apologize, or just wait for someone to call you out on it. It could be entirely possible that nobody cares. Suddenly, your Pomodoro timer blares, breaking the rumination that brought you to losing your focus for the last 12 minutes. It’s time for a break.
You close your laptop, take a deep breath and stand up. You go through your mental checklist. First, you take a big stretch, raising your hands to the ceiling while standing on your toes, then slowly bending forward to bring your hands to your comfy slippers. It’s so nice to be able to be in your comfy house slippers, they’re like a warm hug on your feet. Next, your ask yourself: Did you drink some water? You can’t remember so you drink one glass. Did you go outside today? Your work area doesn’t have the best natural light, so you’re never sure what’s going on outside.
You haven’t seen the sun for longer that five minutes for the past two days. You pour some cold water into your favorite bottle, put on your favorite slip-ons, and decide to go outside to take a 10 minute stroll. The sun feels good, you can feel its rays drying up the tears you missed when you wiped your face earlier. You approach your favorite cafe, their sandwiches are really the best. Should grab one? Yeah, just a few nibbles. You walk in and grab half a sandwich and eat it on the walk back home.
Ok, you’re back. You feel like you can get back in and do this. You take another deep breath—actually you take three and count backwards from 20, and open your laptop.
*The events and persons depicted in this article are fictitious, but the feelings are intimately relatable and familiar.