State of the Machin 2022

This year’s State of the Machin will be written in English, for the linguistic distance helps me laying out uncomfortable truthes (first attempt to laid bare my emotional state was done through pop culture reference and quite unreadable).

So. I’m not in the greatest of states. I have a hard time having a social life in Albi, long distance relationships are a drag, my job is unsatisfying for a myriad of mundane reasons, and the weather’s been awful through and through since forever, weighing on my mood.

Let’s try and elaborate.

I’ve written last year that I started a new job as a civil servant. I’m still doing that. My boss quit and my office moved, so I’m now in another building, closer to my new boss, with a different job title and slightly different (but mostly the same) tasks. Those changes were welcome, but I think they’re not enough. I work in a local administration, on environmental subjects. My n+1 thinks its important, but my n+2 and the elected head of the local government don’t really care. Plus there’s infighting between different levels of elected government about who should do what (and communicate about it) on the subject. So, the work can be quite tedious, a problem only compounded by the fact that on paper I’m supposed to collect indicators and pass information between several institutions, two tasks I don’t really care about. I want for technical and practical challenges, not paper-pushing (yes, going to work as middle management in a local administration might have lacked some foresight). The multiple levels of validation due to « possible political consequences » of pretty much every subject are quite exhausting, I yearn for more autonomy. As I said, moving to be physically closer to my new boss has been welcolmed since it allowed me to transform a lot of emails and phonecalls into informal 2-minutes chats. But wtf, why didn’t this happen much much sooner??? I think it’s nobody’s fault, really, but some of the choices done in the way that administration works are quite toxic and exhausting, the scattering of the workers on several site being one of the main problems, but not one easily solvable on the short term.

So, I like my colleagues, especially the ones at the new office, with whom I have more affinities than with those at my previous office. Still, I have a stilted social life, with them and with the other people I’ve met here. I don’t know what is causing this, but I never find it easy to have social interactions here. I did not have this problem in Pau. One reason might be the lack of social dynamics in my house; I have three roommates, two moved out since last year, and the ones remaining are not the more social ones, nor the one with whom I share common views or hobbies. We don’t do things together, not even eating together. And I don’t know if it’s the cause of the rest of my social difficulties, but it sure doesn’t help.

What’s frustrating me is that for some time, around late september, I seemed to have cracked it. I had joined a climbing club, made some friends there, dined from time to time with one of my roommates who since moved out, had some parasocial relations in parties hosted in other communal houses in Albi. And then, I don’t know why, but it fell apart. I couldn’t find the energy to go to climbing sessions after I came back from my Christmas holidays. The weather was awfully grey, and it took its toll on my mood. But I tried and circumvent it: I started taking Vitamin D pills, to little effect. Some friends (who since moved out of Albi, do you see a pattern here?) organized a three days weekend where we all went together in a little house in Aveyron, and that was great. But it was a one time event, and I went back to my lack of easily happening social events after that. Because, actually, I can still go climbing, I could try and propose some activities (bar-going, karaokeing, mountain-hiking). But it seems like nothing’s happening naturally. Maybe it’s because I miss a time or place where I would chitchat with people and this kind of propositions would arise organically – a more socially active house or a more unformal framework at work would provide that, but as it is, it’s not happening.
I’ve never been the most social person, but it feels like I had stores of ability to initiate and navigate social interactions, stores that were filled by my previous successful interactions in my daily life in Pau. I’ve exhausted these stores trying to kickstart my social network in Albi, and now I’m left empty-handed, both wanting interactions and lacking the willpower to plan them. And looking back and seeing how much easier it seemed to suggest or organize pretty much anything not that long ago, it feels very frustrating to be where I am now.

And of course, for me as well as for anyone, there’s the delicious mix of two and a half years of pandemic, the rise of fascism, the climate crisis, and the whole « living under late stage capitalism » package of mental exhaustion, fed by my use of doomscrolling as a procrastination routine.

So yeah, I’m not fine. But I’m veeery good at masking it, even to myself. Because I’m used to be lonely, really. I can occupy myself with movies, books, elaborate routines of checking up Twitter, new comics and scifi novel releases, and a bunch of internet browsing, ultimately unsatisfying but killing time. So in the end I have a low key feeling of unsatisfaction but not too bothering. And then I go and spend a week with my old friends or OC, and I suddenly realize what I’ve been missing for several months in terms of fulfilling social interactions, and when I go back to Albi, that’s when I’m feeling in the dumps.

So, there’s several things I could do. I could go and see a psychologist. But well, I’m pretty sure I successfully self analyzed what feel’s wrong in my life, and I don’t want to learn to be okay with it, I actually want it to get better (I’m aware of the strong « men will literally do anything instead of going to therapy » vibe, and this is something I might have to work on, but at the same time I wasn’t able to find a dentist taking new patients in Albi, so I don’t have much hopes about therapists anyway).

I could move out of this house and in another one in Albi with a more communal spirit. That would be a partial solution, but the house I’m in is really architecturally great and comfy, I’d be a bit miffed to move out for it not to work, and moreover it wouldn’t adress my work problems.

I could resign from my work. No unemployement allocation for me if I do that, but I have money aside. If I do so, two options: the first is that I find a similar job elsewhere with a better organization, hoping it will suffice to make the job more satisfying. But if it stays the same administrative tedium, I’m not so sure it will happen (at the same time, I think it’s important to try and push for changes in local governement, and I’m competent at what I do, even if I don’t enjoy it). Or, I switch jobs completely and go back to school to learn a more hands-on job. It’s a daydream I’ve been nursing for quite some time, but tbh I’m afraid it won’t be the magic bullet I’m hoping for, and so I’m stalling (but come on self, learning to build and renovate houses would be great).
A bigger problem tied to this one is that I’m not sure if I don’t like 1/this particular job, 2/this kind (=administrative and high-level) of job, or 3/having to work. And the question of how one’s secures an ethical annuity instead of working is not one I’ve managed to solve so far (I could start by buying a home instead of renting, but without having long term plans about where I’ll live, it’s complicated).

Changing jobs would also be an opportunity to move out from Albi and to another city. Going back to Île-de-France would allow me to reunite with my friends and OC, but at the same time, uugh, I don’t want to pay a parisian-priced rent nor to lose my easy access to nature. Moreover, OC will probably move out of Paris in a year or two. The plan when I moved to Albi was to wait here for her to find a long term posting, but it looks more and more like I can’t afford to wait in this limbo state another year or two.

So, my short term course of actions will be looking for similar jobs to the one I’m holding, but around Paris. It’s not great, but I think my lack of regular satisfying social interactions is my biggest problem at the time (and phonecalls, videocalls or written chat absolutely do not do the job for me, it has to be physical presence or nothing), and it would solve this. Then maybe wait for OC to get a permanent posting somewhere and follow her there, since it’s a legitimate reason for getting unemployement money even if you’ve resigned. And then, using that unemployement money to go back to school and start learning to build cabins?

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