My job would be remote under "normal" circumstances, and I've been generally working remotely for about 80% of the last decade anyway. Video calls are not novel to me at all; I probably do a minimum of six per day. Depending on the app, you generally get a quick preview of what your own camera is showing. A couple of weeks ago, the person I saw behind my desk was nearly unrecognizable.
I looked so... tired. It's not the work, really. Work is always challenging, but I wouldn't describe it as tiring. I think what I was seeing was just the aggregate product of everything. Heck, work might be the retreat from the rest, where I get to engage with other adults doing interesting things. But the parenting of a kid with ASD and ADHD, the pandemic, the reckoning of institutional racism, the toxic and immoral politics of the White House, the economic carnage where I live, the unknowns of school in the fall... it's exhausting.
A lot of this is certainly out of my control, but as an empathetic human being, I want to do things where I can. Idealistic 20-something me engaged because that's what you do when you're young, but now it's out of a sense of obligation to my child and the communities that I've been a part of or ally to. One can't just disregard it all.
I also get into the classic behavior that decades of therapy taught me not to do, where I compare my life to others and feel bad for the relative discomfort that I feel. It doesn't help that we have these crazy entitled white people having tantrums about wearing masks in a Trader Joe's, because you don't want to be those people. But for a reasonably empathetic person trying to leave the world a better place than they found it, which I hope describes me, it's not constructive to try and keep score and feel bad because you don't have it that hard compared to others. The feels are reals, as a therapist once told me.
So what am I doing about it? Well, I started by taking time off. I did that thing again where I went three months without a day off, which I try not to do. So this week I'm doing as little as possible. We did do a couple of nights in a low-traffic beach rental, where we were able to mostly socially distance and avoid people (though #floridaman makes this difficult). There's something cathartic about standing in the ocean and letting the waves beat the shit out of you. Unfortunately it wasn't the most comfortable place, but it was a change of scenery.
I've also committed to prioritizing things in daily life more deliberately. So yes, I can be socially responsible, be the dad and husband, set boundaries for work, and importantly, take time to be present for a few moments a day.
I'll get to a point where I'm less tired, but it will require reorganizing my brain for the current reality.