Embracing Monday Mornings
[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
The first thing I saw Monday morning was a giant water bug in the kitchen sink. My cat was circling my feet, begging for another helping of breakfast, and I was on my way to give it to him. Like Ricky Gervais said, you can't spoil a cat.
Normally, a giant, roach-adjacent insect would have sent my heart a-pitter-pattering at the very least. Instead, I failed to even blink, nudged the giant bug down the drain with a heavy stream of hot water, and ruthlessly killed it via the garbage disposal. Then I washed my hands, even though I hadn't touched the bug, and gave my cat another helping of chicken-turkey pâté.
What a shit way to start a Monday, I thought to myself. Which is of course, a very stupid thing to think. Monday is just another day, after all. Except we've made Monday bad by collectively thinking that it's bad, and by our collective understanding that most of us go to work on Monday morning, and through the collective experience that work is usually boring, unfulfilling, anxiety-inducing, or not quite worth the proverbial squeeze.
The only time I've ever hated Monday was when I was working a job that I hated, in which I was made to feel incompetent because that's how people who are incompetent make their subsidiaries feel. I don't know what I'm doing, so I'm going to project my insecurities onto you, kind of thing. My boss at this job-that-I-hated actually had no experience doing the thing we were doing, and so sat with me and read through my emails one by one, blaming our lack of sales on the order of my sentences rather than on the useless, expensive piece of software we were trying to sling.
In that job, like in many tech jobs, we had a daily 15 minute "stand up" meeting, where we each sat dead-eyed and talked about what we were working on, instead of actually working. The meetings were at noon, and some days, all I had done by noon was call 30 people who didn't want to buy our software and who probably didn't need it. "Shouldn't I be qualifying these leads?" I said one day to my boss. "You just need to be calling," she said. "This is all about volume." It doesn't take a Harvard-educated nuclear engineer to figure out that any volume of bad leads does not simply, by some miracle, turn good through a nice phone call.
So, for the four months I worked at this uninspiring job, I dreaded Monday mornings with every inch of my being. I anticipated the weekend as if Friday evening were an all-inclusive trip to the Bahamas. I spent all my spare time writing and exercising and scouring LinkedIn for alternative sources of employment. I considered selling photos of my feet. The dread I felt wasn't just "aw shucks, it's Monday," dread. It was cortisol inducing, cold sweats, bad sleep and too much caffeine dread. Monday is just a day, yes, but it's also a fresh entry back into the hellscape you just escaped from, if your working life is bad enough.
I'm not longer at that job, but I remember the dread I felt logging on each Monday. The internet is awash in ways-to-make-Monday better; get a good nights rest, exercise, listen to upbeat music, hold off on checking email right away, make a list of your most important tasks, eat some berries, have some caffeine, but not too much. The way to make Monday better isn't any one of these things, though. The way to make Monday better, or any day better, is to spend Monday doing something you actually love doing. If you can't love what you do, find something you can at least cheerfully tolerate. The moment I left that job, Mondays were just another day to get things done.
Sometimes when I talk to people who are retired, they offhandedly mention forgetting which day it is. No normal, non-retired person can do this, because normal, non-retired people have meetings to attend, an office to commute to, kids to drop at school, and all the adjacent responsibilities that come with being a grown person. Mondays, to the retired person, are the best day to go to the beach, or catch a matinee, or loiter over dried plums at the grocery store. Monday might be the best day ever, because Monday has no specific structure. What I can take away from the retired is to approach each Monday as if some miracle might happen. I might find a water bug in the sink. I might find an eviction notice on my door. I might get a promotion, or have a good hair day, or not burn my eggs.
The last thing I saw Monday evening were two faces. My boyfriend's a foot from mine and already sleeping, and my cat, who was sitting atop my chest purring, with his mouth slightly ajar. Even if a Monday starts horribly, it can always end well, even if the best ending you can think of is sleep.
P.S. Read about learning to like Mondays here, read about what to do in retirement here, or follow me on Instagram.