Alex Stockwell

UX, DevOps, Fatherhood, Miscellany. Not in that order.

Survival Mode

I have a real problem with keeping the non-work aspects of my life moving forward. Yard work, car maintenance, laundry - all the usual chores that come with being an cough adult - I tend to let slip more than I should. I usually chock it up to the hours I work, and the resulting fatigue in my free time, but everyone works, so everyone must find some way to balance this stuff. In reflecting on it, I’ve come to a realization. Bear with me:


Up through our mid-20’s, life is a long sequence of finite periods. Elementary, middle and high school. Six, two and four years, respectively. Crazy exertion during sports seasons (3-4 months, then over), cramming for tests (1-2 weeks, then over), having a good time (1-2 all-nighters at a time, then over, knowing you can catch-up on sleep during the school week). Three glorious months of summer. All these finite periods, where you can (must) sieze the day, at the expense of tomorrow, with graduation parties throughout to clearly mark the changing of the eras.

Then comes college, a four-ish year stint of anything but responsible chore-doing. Full of the same finite periods: all-nighters, spring breaks, and all-around bitchin' rockstar-from-mars behavior. I call it Survival Mode. Survival mode, while completely unsustainable in the long run, becomes permissible in all these periods precisely because they are finite. But it also becomes a habit, the learned coping method for deadlines and even everyday events.

Not so finite

So what happens after college? No more finite. The long, 40+ year tunnel of a career stares you down.

I realized I’ve been approaching my life, and more so my job, in survival mode. And that’s a huge mistake, seeing as it’s not ending any time soon. I’ve been putting off mundane (but essential) life tasks to cram work in, or fun in, or something, but really it comes down to the fact that it’s not sustainable. Priorities have to be established, although I’m not sure at what point in the last 20+ years of survival mode¬†we learned to do that.