Fraying Tempers

All.  Over.  The place!  Ugh!  So annoying.

Today, I planned to write about the snowy barbecue I attended a week ago Sunday and the holiday parade I marched in this past Tuesday.  But I wasn’t feeling it.  At all.  I started writing about it all but couldn’t continue because my head just wasn’t in that space.  Maybe next week.  We’ll see.

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So, ya…a picture of me from the parade kind of ended up in what I hear is the most popular paper in town

Instead, today I want to talk about what eight months without a proper vacation does to people who have to spend a lot of time together.  There are pissed off people everywhere I turn.  And I’m one of them sometimes!

I have a hard time shutting up and keeping my opinion to myself on a normal day but when my patience is wearing thin, this feat is even more difficult for me.  Additionally, people-ing isn’t easy on any given day but when I’m on a short leash, I have to dig even deeper to keep myself in check.  And this is how, in the last week and a half, I came to mute WhatsApp groups that I’m a part of.  Twice!  Little skirmishes seem to be popping up online and off, and I’m pretty sure it’s partly because we’re all on edge from being tired.  In my case, there may be a little bit of one person’s toxicity and another one’s immaturity included, too, but I’m not sure those are major factors.

Last Thursday when I woke up, I didn’t feel particularly positive.  I’d been struggling with several things: my dry spiritual life and lack of spiritual mentorship at this time; overall emotional tiredness at work; figuring out my summer plans; and a general tiredness of being alone.

Part of this problem is circular because some of these factors affect the other factors.  For example, my struggle with figuring out my summer plans is partly due to my tiredness of being alone.  This is one of those times when I’d like having someone along for the journey, to share the excitement of the experiences with me, but that’s impossible because no-one has the summer to travel with me, and there’s only one person who I already know that I would travel with.  Also, a part of my emotional tiredness at work is because I haven’t had a soul-restoring trip since I got here.  Travel is like oxygen to me and I’ve only taken a few gasping breaths since I arrived in Yakutsk almost nine months ago, just enough to keep me going but not enough to keep my soul thriving.

Additionally, although I’m around people all day and do a lot of enjoyable activities with my colleagues here, I’m not free to share my heart with anyone (as much as I love some of them, I still have to maintain my professionalism to some degree), which means that I don’t get to share my heart on a regular basis.  This can also be emotionally draining for me because it takes effort to keep stuff in that I want to let out but can’t because there’s no appropriate or convenient outlet.

And, of course, working almost non-stop for over eight months – with only a short ten-day break in the middle – can wreck anyone.

So a little over a week ago when there was a competitive event among our colleagues and someone posted a joking comment about God in our group chat (I’m not going to repeat it here, it’s irrelevant), I didn’t feel that I could let it lie, especially since I had been commenting in the chat just moments before, and since I haven’t made it a secret that God is the most important person in my life.  So I posted two emojis in response to the comment the person had made: -_- and the eye-rolling emoji.  The person responded that I shouldn’t take it so seriously and I immediately shot back that I do take it seriously.  Up piped The Toxic One, who almost never has anything to say in the company group chat but clearly couldn’t resist poking the bear (me) on this occasion, basically giving a virtual high five to the person who made the comment that I found objectionable .  Since I knew that no good could come of me jumping down anyone’s throat, which I sorely wanted to do, I muted the chat for the night.  To be honest, I felt a little disappointed in the person who made the comment in the first place because my expectations had been higher than what I saw of them that evening.  This is because I don’t disparage their beliefs and I think it’s reasonable to expect the same kind of respect, especially when it’s pointed out.

In any case, I decided that the whole thing wasn’t worth my emotional energy and God doesn’t need me to get into a war of words with my colleagues on His behalf so I exhaled and went to bed.

Less than a week later, another online skirmish ensued.  Someone posted what I thought was a ludicrous comment in a group chat and I responded; to my credit, I didn’t say it was ludicrous, I just pointed out the flaw in their reasoning.  They private messaged me to say that clearly I dislike them because I’m so hostile towards them.  After I got over the shock of that asinine comment, I responded to the person that it was unfortunate that they took my comments in that way, apologised for causing them to feel that way, and thanked them for sharing their thoughts.  To be honest, I don’t take those comments particularly seriously because this person is notoriously immature and unable to take feedback of any kind.  But I decided to look at it as a mother lode of information about who that person is, and I also took it as a sign that it was time for me to shut my mouth lest I end up being the source of unnecessary negativity and bad feelings within the group.  I promptly muted that group chat, too, because I knew that the only way I would keep my mouth shut was if I didn’t know what was happening in the group and the only way to stay ignorant of what was happening in the group was the totally ignore it, and the only way to do what was to mute it.

In between those incidents, there have been a few other skirmishes that I’ve witnessed (and happily, not been a part of) which I’m sure have happened because people are on edge from being tired and are therefore a little less patient and tolerant than they would normally be.  This amount of sniping is unusual for the environment in which I work because it’s generally a very calm, peaceful and supportive environment.  It still is, but these clashes are happening too frequently, I think.

We have three and a half more weeks to go until the school year ends and we get to rest and be away from each other.  Until then, I’m going to try my best to keep my opinions to myself and promote a harmonious environment.  Otherwise, words might be said that can never be retracted and I certainly want no part of that.

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!  Psalm 141:3 (ESV)

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