As a kid I always vowed I’d never work in an office. The idea of being cooped up in one airless room, sat on my backside all day just seemed the worst kind of purgatory, and after my school years I was determined to have a less physically confined working life. I never gave very much thought to actual work I’d be doing in that office, I just knew that I didn’t want to be in one of the stuffy, horrible places…
After Plan A of becoming a horse vet fell through (when I realised I should have paid attention in chemistry class), I eventually found myself in arts management. Which yes, has its moments of glamour and excitement but is mostly all about spending my days in exactly the kind of strip-lit, air-conditioned, open-plan ‘hell’ I’d formerly dreaded.
Of course, aged 12 I didn’t realise that some pretty cool jobs still required a bit of sitting at a desk. I love what I do now – I’ve met some truly brilliant people and contributed to some projects which really have made a positive difference to other people. I get a huge kick out of seeing a happy audience filling a theatre, and know that hundreds of people would line up all night to have a shot at doing my job.
But like any job, it can get very, very stressful at times. Workloads are huge, budgets are tiny, personalities can be challenging and deadlines are immovable. After all – the show must go on!
And it’s when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed and ragged around the edges that all my dislike of confinement flares up. I find myself stomping off for walks round the block, finding an empty corridor for a bit of a yell and roaming off to the toilets at the very furthest end of the building just for the change of scene.
I usually come back feeling better and more able to tackle whatever it was that was putting me in a spin.
So if a bit of a walk round the building can make me this mild-claustrophobe feel a fair bit better, I wonder how much sanity my bike riding habit provides me with? That’s a whole hour of breeze-in-the face every single day.
I’ve cycled with hot angry tears dripping off the end of my nose. I’ve cycled with inappropriate and offensive emails forming in my brain. I’ve cycled overwhelmed with exhaustion. I’ve cycled weighed down with my own inadequacies. I’ve cycled swearing that the next day I will hand in my notice.
But I’ve very, very rarely got home feeling the same way. Over the course of the journey, problems seem to just slip into perspective and solutions pop up almost without thinking about them. It’s like pressing a Reset button on a bad day, which allows the normal me to creep back out again, the me which thinks my chosen career is still pretty cool and no work problems are worth losing sleep over.
And it’s cheaper than hitting a bottle of wine. Though I still do that from time to time too 😉