Black box

Opened box stock art.

Image accessed from Pixabay 17 August 2020.

In a lot of areas of work you get to be part of creating something beautiful. Developing a new technology, curing people, building something. Unfortunately not all work is so positive.

Some of us will end up working in areas that are made up of really dark content. I’m mainly thinking about working in the criminal justice system, because that’s where I want to be. I know there are other areas with difficult cases and issues though. For example, you don’t get to cure everyone in health.

One thing that's surprised me is how what I work on impacts my world outside of work. Maybe it’s just cause I'm an overthinker, but I’ve found that my mind starts to make all kinds of associations. Maybe I’ll see a park bench and I think about a case where two people first met on a bench. Maybe I see a knife in the kitchen and it reminds me of a man who picked it up as he went out to see someone. Maybe I see a kid playing in the street and it reminds me of a case that started off with that kid in the park. It follows that every single item could end up having an association with something horrible, until I’m just consumed by these connections.

Maybe I need to have a mental black box to lock all the information in. At work, I open it up. At the end of the day, I lock it up and go home. Surely I have to develop the ability to separate my personal world from my work. I asked someone who worked in this area about this, and they said they saw it as a good thing. They saw it as a reminder that the cases they’re working on are happening in reality.

It’s something I’m still figuring out, but I think it’s good that I’m aware it’s an issue for me. In spite of the difficulties, it hasn’t made me change my mind about the career I want to pursue. I think I shouldn’t try to completely suppress the negative associations, because trying to push these feelings into my subconscious is probably not solving the issue. That being said, I also feel like I need to make sure there’s some degree of separation in my head, if only so that I am able to converse with other people.

These associations are reminders that crazy things happen right here in Adelaide, not just within the confines of a textual fantasy land. I may have been oblivious, but I live in the same world where a lot of dark, terrible and broken things happen. Shouldn’t that just make me appreciate all the things in life that are so bright?

I am personally so blessed and privileged, in so many ways I didn’t even realise. I lead a life with so many special, and positive things in it; that could have all gone so wrong. So if I see something like a kid playing (even though it could be a reminder of a tragedy) I think I will be able to appreciate how that brief moment in time is something to be celebrated, and not be consumed by whatever dark thing it reminds me of.

Information on where to get support and advice if you need it, can be found on the University of Adelaide Wellbeing Hub.

Tagged in What messes with your head, work life balance