Sarah Britten
Sarah Britten

Angry people, verbal diarrhoea and other things that make me tired


Earlier this week I wrote about the energy crisis, the one that a lot of us are experiencing around about now. Reading this note from Tom Eaton, it’s clear that this is what killed off Hayibo: the writers were just too tired.

Tiredness is interesting, because there’s more to it than the obvious contributing factors like long working hours and not enough sleep. I don’t know about you, but these are some of the things I just. don’t. have. the energy to deal with:

Verbal diarrhoea. Ja, I know, we evolved to talk – but I’d rather not. The sound of a ringing phone fills me with horror. I know perfectly lovely people with whom friendship is impossible because they just talk. too. much.

Politics. And by this I mean politics of any kind: office, family, national. There’s a good word for what politics is: enervating. I just don’t want to know.

As for Mangaung, will it just be over already? So we can have some certainty and get on with it – even if the certainty is that things will get more kak?

Lack of trust. This is the big one, I’ve come to realise. Not being able to trust others is incredibly draining, especially when you’re being asked for an effort for an outcome which isn’t assured. For me, it’s at the root of confidence, which in turn is listed as a key driver of productivity in this Wall Street Journal piece on how to be happy at the workplace. Nothing happens without trust because without it, you start asking the most dangerous question of all: what’s the point? And there’s never a good answer to that one.

Angry People. Some people are galvanized by anger. They spend their lives being Outraged or Offended or otherwise Indignant. There are a lot of angry people in this country, and half of them hang out on the comments facility of News24. I don’t want to know any of them.

People who want to sell me things. Or who want things from me. I hate being sold to. Loathe it, in fact. The other day I unwisely gave my number of Ahmed, a Senegalese handbag trader I met at Oriental City Rivonia. Since then, he’s been sending me Please Call Mes and phoning me (last night at 11.15pm) and I’ve been ignoring all of it. I just don’t have the energy for you and whatever you might want from me, dude, even if talking to you might be good for my French.

Not seeing progress or meaningful change. This is why a lot of South Africans are either angry or tired or drunk.

Not having something to believe in. When we stop believing in something – even ourselves or our capacity to shape our own destiny in some way – we give up. I hate to go Oprah on you, but we need something beyond immediate survival when we get up in the morning. If we don’t, it gets really hard to get out of bed.

Being disconnected from the fruit of one’s labours. This is one of the major frustrations with what I do for a living, and one of the reasons I quit my job. You can only churn out so many PowerPoint slides and present so many strategies without seeing any of them manifest in reality before your soul finally develops gangrene.

Lack of signal. You laugh, but this has been one of the biggest drains on my productivity this year. As luck would have it, I live in the Bermuda Triangle of signal because there aren’t enough towers (thanks, neighbours, and your NIMBY paranoia). Vodacom have very kindly put up booster aerials and lent me an LTE modem, and if they ever need someone to bitch and moan to the Sandton Chronicle about the tower issue, I’m there. But the ideal of the mobile worker able to be productive anywhere remains a long way off.

There you have it. Not a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s a start.

And because – yes – being negative is also tiring, I know I need to balance this out. So I’m also compiling a list of things that have the opposite effect. Despite the lack of sleep and the self-doubt, there are some things that give me the energy to go out there and do mad things without any good reason. If they didn’t exist, I’d never do anything at all, so I’m really grateful they do.

I’ll share the ones that work for me tomorrow.

Tags: , , , ,

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    • Ad

      Oh Sarah;

      those words are so true:

      You can only… present so many strategies without seeing any of them manifest in reality before your soul finally develops gangrene.

      Sadly there is no pill for this gangrene, the only solution to this and many of the this that make us tired is to cut the rotten bit off. Which translates to leave South Africa.

    • Enough Said

      @Sarah – You are expressing the feelings and emotions of a lot of thinking people right now. There is a phase transition in human consciousness happening, it is draining, its difficult to make sense of anything, just hold onto your hat, put your head down and make sure you come out the other side more intact than most.

    • Guinness Holic

      Expanding on a few of your points.

      South Africans today appear to have no middle ground, they sway from extreme melancholy to misplaced delusions of grandeur. They’re either so depressed and frustrated over their political future they’d make Hamlet look like an hysterical optimist under the influence of laughing gas, or they’re (usually) suffering from some mass Dunning-Kruger Effect where their beliefs in themselves is really way out of kilter with reality. This comes into play when dealing with SAns in the international business arena. They’re usually first to voice their worthless opinions, and complain over why they don’t have enough time, money or anything else we all seem to have to grapple with. We’re then given a list of reasons of why they need special treatment. Personally, I won’t have a bar of it.

      The happiest South Africans I’ve met don’t live there anymore. They ALL appear to have knitted in with their new communities, stopped chasing newer model Beemers and generally accepted that they have something to offer life, and it may not be all that unique.

      Not so your New unimproved SAns. They’re still delusional and believe that SA is the center of the universe. That the most violent nation in the world is the friendliest, that the most unproductive workforce I’ve encountered somehow houses cheap labour, and that the most unequal society is populated with people who are all equal under their laws. And they believe it. They’re your NuSAns.

    • Frans Verloop

      Sarah, you seem to be going through a phase of your life that you wish was over and done with. A psychiatrist once told me ik helps to talk about things you want to get out of your system (he earned substantial fees out of listening to me, but I don’t blame him, I would also want to be paid well if had to listen to myself). So you talk (write) about them but you don’t experience the sympathy of an ear sitting in front of you.
      To take some of your points, Politics, since I can’t do anything about it I don’t worry about it. Mangaung, I hope the owners of the joint have special insurance for their chairs, but if you like professional wrestling you could get some enjoyment out if it. Lack of trust, I find keeping your eyes wide open and having a few strategic question marks in your armoury usually takes care of that.
      Verbal Diarrhoea (VD, in my youth those initials were used for what are now called STD’s) I like to call it Fustian Logorrhea (FL, not be confused with the now almost archaic monniker of a condom) it encourages the unlazy to do a bit of research.
      Let me know if you would like a sympathetic ear.

    • Dave Harris

      Sarah, I have only one word to help you cope with this period of negativity – GRATITUDE.
      Sorry to go Oprah on you but I think I may have divulged this “secret” to you before which you most likely dismissed. Its understandable that you look down on Oprah and others in the self-help movement because our entire education, media, healthcare etc wants you to believe differently and currently they’re winning and you’re unfortunately just collateral damage in our “modern” society!

    • Rory Short

      Sarah life is what it is and it has always been so. There are inevitably things in any society that one is not happy with and the useful thing to do in respect of them is to band together with others to work for the changes you are wanting. One’s soul does not then get gangrene but instead is fed by the genuine camaraderie engendered by the shared struggle.

    • Mr. Direct

      “Some things in life are bad
      They can really make you mad
      Other things just make you swear and curse
      When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
      Don’t grumble, give a whistle
      And this’ll help things turn out for the best

      Always look on the bright side of life (whistle)”

      – Eric Idle

      But don’t listen to me, I am as grumpy as they come….

    • Sean

      I believe that our personal happiness is based upon the extent to which our reality meets our expectations. This explains why there are unhappy people with so much (who do not appreciate all that they have) and happy people who have so little (they do not expect more than what they have).

      There are of course two solutions if your reality does not fulfill your expectations, either change your reality (not as easy as it sounds, but worth a try) or lower your expectations (surprisingly easy once you grasp the concept, but in some ways the opposite of what our human nature dictates).

      I am happy, I realise that what I have is pretty damned good, better in fact than the majority of people on this planet and I am grateful for everything I have.

    • Chris

      Disconnected from the fruit of one’s labours?

      Promotes meaningful change, without Anger or Politics; may point you to sound beliefs; and, lucky for you, it’s not even for sale:

    • Robert

      Hi Sarah. I can sympathise. Have you considered walking part of the Santiago Pilgrimage?

    • Judith

      Now and again, we all lose it. Relax and close off from everything for awhile! Good to see you posting Rory Short!