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Back to the office anxieties

I start a new job tomorrow. It's something pretty different from what I've been doing up until now in my career. It's something very different to what I've been doing for the past year, which has been working from home. Tomorrow, I have to get up, get dressed, pack a lunch, and catch the train to my new office. It's not that I didn't know this was coming, but now that it has, I fully understand the ~back to the office~ post-pandemic feelings I've seen so many memes about.

Most of the nation has been ~back to the office~ for eleven months now. A friend of mine only spent about six weeks working from home, plus the odd day or three here and there after a scare or a snap lockdown. I've been working from home since mid-March, and could count the number of in-office days on my fingers. The job I had when COVID hit was flexible in location, then the job that I had until three days ago was fully remote.

via Unsplash

I used to have my routine down pat. It was scheduled to the minute. I woke up at 6:10am every weekday, caught the same bus to the city (it was consistently 3 minutes late), and even ate the same breakfast while waiting at the bus stop. I never had to think about it, I just did it. And while, to some people, that may sound awful, I really liked it. I thrived in the routine. I enjoyed getting ready in the morning, I enjoyed switching my flats for pumps when I got to the office, I even enjoyed complaining about the air con in my building, which was always too hot until 9:30am, then too cold for the rest of the day. Even the fluctuating temperature was part of my routine.

But since the first rumblings of COVID (my previous workplace was one of the first to go remote), I've developed a new routine. A very flexible one. And there are plenty of good things to say about a flexible schedule. I went to the gym when I wanted, I had lunch when I wanted, and I only got dressed for the day if I wanted. I fell into a new routine, which I switched up a number of times in the past year, to suit my needs. But it was, for the most part, mine to decide upon. A work day is a lot shorter when your morning commute is wandering down the stairs. There were plenty of days that my alarm went off 10 minutes before I was expected online for the day. No video calls, no problem.

But, as of tomorrow, a large part of my day will be accounted for. My new job is four days a week, and yes, I know I'm being extremely dramatic. I'm excited about the position. More excited than I have ever been for a job. I think it will suit me to a tee. But the upcoming weeks of finding a new schedule will irk me, being on a crowded train at peak hour will annoy me, and having to think about and prepare lunch the night before will take some getting used to. I'm not a flexible individual. I've tried to be more spontaneous and happy going with the flow, but I'm simply not. I need a routine to thrive.

Until I find my new routine, things will be a bit off. I might be a little more tired than usual, having not found that perfect bed time. I'll leave my keys at home in a rush to catch the train. I'll splash out for a few lunches because I forgot to get my lunch ready. These things are small, but they'll bother me. But soon enough, I'll find it. The alarm time so perfect that I'll wake up 2 minutes before it goes off. The best breakfast to eat on the go. The train carriage that always has a seat. The jacket to leave in the office for when the air con is too cold. I'll find it all, and I'll thrive.