On Young People, Work, and Anxiety

echo-railton-9Originally posted on Startup Canada: Young People, Work and Anxiety

“I am a workaholic, which can be pretty horrible when you work alone. No one tells you to stop or take a break, or that you’re burning yourself out. I’d find myself tethered to the internet all day, sitting in a chair for 10 hours and staring at a bright screen. Even when I was “finished,” I’d impulsively check email several times between midnight and 2 a.m. I know it’s dumb and unnecessary and “What could be so important?” and “You need your sleep,” but I did it anyways. I was oblivious to the fact that my nerves were being frayed for hours on end, and that I desperately needed fun face-to-face time with real human beings.”

It’s daunting when you can empathize so deeply to a piece of writing. This is a part of Charlie Hoehn’s recent post “How I cured my Anxiety.” It resonated with me and dozens of other people. Within hours of going live on charliehoehn.com the post received nearly 100 comments (still counting), and has been shared by 2000+ people on Facebook and Twitter.

People are responding because there is power in his story. He is honest and his vulnerability is relatable. He writes,

“The real problem had been my state of mind. I’d become increasingly adept at rejecting any form of “non-productivity.” I couldn’t allow any form of play if it didn’t contribute to earning money or doing something “meaningful.” Even when I was with friends or doing something that was supposed to be fun, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the time I was wasting. I wasn’t being productive; I was losing valuable time. I had to get back to work!”

Being obsessed with productivity is something I am intimately familiar with. For a good chunk of my life I have been obsessed with school; if I wasn’t studying I was wasting time. When I became disenchanted with school I just traded my anxiety for other projects. Increasingly, many of my friends have decided it’s time“grow up” and stop having fun. Charlie calls bullshit on “growing up:”

“When I tackle a problem with a sense of play – voluntarily because I’m inherently attracted to it – my creativity and optimism and happiness soars. I become fascinated with the world. I fall in love with people. And whoever I’m working with helps me make the game more fun, and our positive energy becomes contagious.”

There is something so compelling in his story that you have to try it out. The second I finished his piece I decided that I would stop being so miserable about my work and making everyone in my life miserable too.  For me, I’ve brought back dance (I am going to a class with 90% seniors, it’s instant smiles), and talking in funny voices with anyone who’ll humour me (generally ends in a fit of giggles). It works. Take his advice to heart. Even if it’s just to test it out.

Click here for How I Cured My Anxiety by Charlie Hoehn

One thought on “On Young People, Work, and Anxiety

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