The stress of going back to work

Monday the 11th of January, I officially went back to work at Lund University.  And it has been overwhelming. 

So much that I have not been with the energy to write about it…until today. 

I feel like a piece of a puzzle that has changed its shape during this last year…but that still needs to fit in the same place. One moment I am taking care of wild injured animals and preparing a webinar on conservation…and the next, I am answering emails from students about their second-year options, working on projects on innovation instead of conservation, and having lots of zoom meetings. It feels like too much change in a very short period of time…I thought that it was only about the content of my work but as I was writing this blog I realized that it was wider. Let me explain…

From conservation to innovation

The first and most important change is that I am suddenly again in my innovation scholar boots. And they do not fit. It feels that the webinar on the impact of Covid on Conservation was the last real link with the conservation world. And with the end of the webinar, my links with the conservation world were severed. This is not entirely true, of course, since I will continue working on one conservation project at least one day a week. But that is it, a project, instead of my main work. And yes, I know that it will take time, but knowing it did not completely override the panic attack that I had when the webinar ended…and so my links with the Jaguar Rescue Center and La Ceiba.    

From nature-sounds and animal interaction to zoom meetings

The second big change has been from being surrounded by nature and interact with animals to interact with people. Ha! You might laugh, but both Frank and I noticed that we were not used to talking that much in one day.  I have had more meetings in these first two weeks of work than in the entire year. About things to do. About deadlines. About more things to do. And it is exhausting—both for the brain and for the soul. At the end of the working day, I just need to be in silence, to de-wire. 

From warm to cold weather

It has not helped that we are now living in Monteverde. It is an extremely beautiful place, home to one of the most amazing patches of cloud forest. But it is cold, windy and rainy. It doesn’t feel like we are still living in the tropics. I am wearing my traveling clothes from Europe almost all the time: long trousers, fleece, and long sleeves. Frank goes around in the house with a woolen hat, a fleece, and double socks…with flip-flops. And I have been reminded (once again) how much I dislike the cold and the darkness.   

From being outdoors and active to sit behind a computer

Going back to work also means that I am sitting behind a computer all the time. Indoors and sitting instead of walking around the nature reserve, from one task to the next one. The first days were even painful to sit so many hours. It didn’t help to walk around during the breaks or to change chairs and places. The fact remained that I was not physically active. It has only been two weeks, and I already notice my hard-earned muscles withering. Maybe I need to start moving around a heavily loaded wheelbarrow around the parking lot 😉

And from being dis-connected to being connected at all times

Last, going back to work has also implied that we needed a very good internet connection. So, we chose a house with an excellent one. And so, we are back online, with all the pros and cons. The pro’s is obviously that I do not need to drive for 15 minutes to send an email or find some information. But being online has also made me realize how much time we lose every day in navigating the internet, reading the news, making sure that every one knows what we are doing through facebook, linked in, emails, chats, etc. And, what is worse, how suddenly people think that because you are online and have (finally) a good internet connection, you are going to be chatting, phoning and responding emails immediatelly. As if you didn’t have anything else to do. And so, I miss working in one thing at a time, uninterrupted, for how long as I needed …

In sum…

All in all, these two weeks have made me realize that going back to work is not only a matter of changing topics but is a complete lifestyle change. And, for me, it has been extremely difficult to accept. Maybe it will be a matter of time. Or maybe it is the final indication that I am ready to move on. That life as it was, is simply not an option. 


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