Avary Chong as founder of code-R, a NGO promoting Purposeful Living.
RESET Chapter 6 — Peace of mind
Olivia stared at the screen for what seemed like forever, struggling to focus.
“You look terrible.”
Olivia looked up from her work to see her supervisor Felicity heading home.
“It’s late. Go home.”
How could Olivia tell her that she technically didn’t even have a home right now? At least, not until she got her first pay cheque next week to afford the security deposit to rent out a tiny shoebox, probably somewhere in Sheng Shui. For now, she slept on the kind charity of friends’ sofas when she was brave, or hard benches when she was too embarrassed to ask and the weather was nice. She’d easily found the parks where other paradoxically homeless office workers would creep in under cover of darkness and shame, and leave before sunrise to freshen up at the nearby public wash room facilities and head in to work to maintain the charade of normalcy. Ever since she’d stood up to her mother a fortnight ago to accept a position at the organisation despite her parents’ vehement opposition, she didn’t feel like she could continue to live in the family flat. Even though her parents were now in Canada and the flat was empty, it was a matter of principle. But it was also a matter of practicality. And she was practically homeless. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed her supervisor had stopped at her desk.
“Don’t burn yourself out. I’m relying on you to be at your best. The people we’re helping are relying on you to be at your best. We’ll talk when you’re ready, if you need to. But do what you have to do, and don’t let it mess with your work.” At that, Felicity turned and left. She hoped she hadn’t sounded too harsh, but she could tell that Olivia wasn’t ready to tell her what was going on with her lately and if it were a personal matter, then it wasn’t Felicity’s business. In any case, Olivia still seemed able to do her job — at least for now. Felicity had begun to notice Olivia looking more and more exhausted at work, and it was only a matter of time before her personal life made her professional life bleed along with it.
Olivia watched Felicity disappear around the corner, and, after a few moments, heard the sliding of the elevator doors open and close. She was relieved Felicity hadn’t continued to press her. She didn’t know if she could handle the shame of telling her supervisor how she’d been getting by. She cursed under her breath. She thought she’d been able to hide it better. Some of her new acquaintances at the park had even given her tips on how to keep looking fresh and presentable like all the normal people with normal homes to go to. But she realised that ‘passing’ meant much more than just looking ‘normal’. She was already falling behind on a report due next week, and it would be hard to hide that fact when she would invariably fail to submit her work on time. But it was just so much harder this week to actually understand her work...
Olivia slammed her fist into her desk. She had to still her chattering mind. She reminded herself that her predicament was only temporary. She refused to let her anxieties and insecurities take control of her. She knew she couldn’t solve everything right now, and maybe she would need to ask for help. But, first she had to help herself. And that meant managing her stress with mindful discipline.
This shall pass.
Food for thought: How can being mindful of your anxieties help you manage the ways in which they can negatively affect you?