Unplugging from the Work Grind: My Journey to Silence and Sanity

On the day of my resignation, as soon as I walked out of the company building, I set my phone to silent mode, and the world became quiet.

I had been waiting for that moment for years.

In the days when my phone was first muted, I wasn’t used to it. From time to time, I would habitually pick up the phone, swipe the screen, and find that there was no new information. I breathed a sigh of relief, and then remembered that I had resigned.

It took about half a month before I stopped checking my phone every once in a while, but I still had auditory hallucinations occasionally.

Sometimes I was making soup, sometimes I was doing Sudoku with my children, and I heard my cell phone ringing in a trance. I hurriedly opened the phone, but there was no new message. Then I thought that I heard wrongly, and the phone was always silent, so it couldn’t be ringing.

My husband doesn’t understand my behavior of muting my phone.

He complained to me several times because he didn’t answer my calls. I wanted to explain why I did this, but I couldn’t organize the words. After holding back for a long time, I could only reply, “I’m anxious.” He just let me do whatever I wanted.

The silent cell phone lasted for two months. One day I went to the vegetable market to buy vegetables. When I was paying, I realized that I didn’t have my mobile phone with me. The stall owner asked me to take the vegetables home to eat first and then give me the money later.

I carried the vegetables and walked home slowly, not in a hurry. Along the way, I felt a strange sense of happiness that is indescribable.

The moment I opened the door and put the vegetable bag on the dining table, I was like an ignorant person who suddenly gained the ability to speak, and found a sentence that could be used to describe that feeling of happiness:

I am alone.

In the past few years when I was working, I lived like Pavlov’s dog.

The famous psychologist Pavlov conducted an experiment with dogs: every time he gave the dog food, he turned on a red light and rang a bell. After a period of time, when the bell rings or the red light turns on, the dog begins to salivate.

This phenomenon is also called conditioned reflex, and my previous reactions to various work group messages have also become conditioned reflexes.

For me, salary is food, and the sound of group messages is the ringtone. When the bell rings, even though I am smarter than a dog and know that there is no food at this time, I still get nervous and immediately put down the work at hand to reply to various messages.

Of course, this kind of conditioned reflex cannot be formed in a short time.

In the first few years, the former company used QQ as a work communication tool and required responses at any time.

Once, the leader needed some data. He said that this data should be kept confidential and could not be sent to the work group, so I sent it to him in a separate small window.

A few days later, he asked about this data in the work group again. It was Sunday and I was on my way to send my baby to early childhood education class, but I didn’t hear the QQ group call.

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Three minutes later, the leader did not receive the data and began to scold the group leader in the group. The group leader called me and asked me to watch the group.

After I read it, I quickly contacted my boss and sent him the data again, but the boss didn’t reply to me.

Five minutes later, the leader scolded the group leader again in the group, and the group leader called me again and only said two words, “Watch the group.”

I reported in the group that the data had been sent to the leaders individually and I explained why I did this.

The leader said, talked back, quibbled, and continued. Then he started swearing again, this time not just the group leader.

The team leader was helpless and called me again, asking me to send the data to the group first and then review it.

I didn’t understand, but I didn’t want to cause my colleagues to be scolded anymore, so I quickly followed suit.

The leader finally calmed down.

After waiting for a minute, there were no new instructions in the group, and early childhood education time was coming soon, so I hurriedly sent the baby to class.

When the child entered the classroom, I opened QQ and received a message from the leader’s small window. In the future, the data will still be sent to him separately to avoid leakage. At the same time, I received a message from the team leader: write a written review and submit it to work on Monday.

These are more serious cases, and there are also more mild ones.

One night around nine o’clock in the evening, before I took a shower, I told my family to pay attention to their cell phones and tell me if they rang.

My husband didn’t take it seriously and thought that I was an administrative and logistical staff member and it was off duty, so what could be important?

So, the WeChat group message rang, but he ignored it.

Soon, a colleague with whom I was close made a WeChat voice call to watch the group, but then hung up in a hurry.

My husband checked the group and found that the leader said something. Everyone responded “received” one by one, but I didn’t reply. My husband replied “Received” for me and thought the matter was over, so he didn’t tell me and wanted to wait until I finished taking a shower.

Unexpectedly, the call came again. My husband thought it was important and knocked on the bathroom door.

I answered the phone and it was my team leader, but he was a new one. It turned out that the team leader had resigned.

The group leader asked me why I came back late. I said I had been taking a shower and didn’t know what happened.

The group leader was silent for a few seconds, so the message in the group just now was answered by your family on your behalf, so I said yes.

She said seriously that the work group information may involve company secrets, and employees have an obligation to keep it confidential, and they cannot let their family members read the group information in the future. I quickly admitted my mistake and the matter was really over.

Things like this happen every once in a while, and I am becoming more and more sensitive to the sound of group messages. Sometimes I hear the phone ringing and find that it has nothing to do with work. I will even get angry, feeling that the other party has wasted the full emotions I have reserved for work. .

After I left my job, I chatted with a former colleague who had resigned, and I realized that the former company did not torture employees intentionally. The former boss was afraid that we would take on private work during non-working hours and affect our work, so he would send some non-urgent and inappropriate messages during non-working hours. For messages that are not important but that you must reply to immediately, please do so from time to time to ensure that you have not gone to another institution to teach or work part-time. This is a management tool.

But during those years when I was working, I didn’t know this, so I developed an almost pathological anxiety about cell phone ringtones, which troubled me very much.

Once, a former employee contacted me and wanted to unbind a certain company social media account from his personal information. After I reported the report, I cooperated with the former employee to complete the unbinding process, register the changes in the account information, and make administrative filings as usual.

In the reason for change box, when I entered “employee resignation”, a thought suddenly came to my mind:

Can I also resign?

Although I immediately expelled this ridiculous idea from my mind, it seemed to have taken root, growing an inch and then an inch from time to time…

Until one day, it was so big that I could no longer ignore its existence, so I resigned.

Because I have a cautious personality and am very cautious in life, during the eight years I worked, I was neither injured nor sick. I never used work-related injury insurance, and I only used medical insurance twice after giving birth. However, I really think that the mental health Go on, I’m already injured.

I can’t treat ringtones like a normal person.

When the phone rings, I am nervous and irritable; when the phone does not ring, I am confused and worried; whether the phone should ring or not, I feel even more anxious and worried.

Is this a mental work injury?

My cell phone was silent for a year. It wasn’t until my children entered elementary school that I reset it to ring mode in order to check teachers’ messages in a timely manner.

I found that when I heard the sound of WeChat group messages and the ringing of the phone again, I was no longer irritable or anxious, because these sounds brought about normal event communication:

Your child cannot memorize the text and needs to be detained in class. Please pick him up later;

The courier has arrived in our community. If you are not at home, I will store it in the courier locker;

Wife, the fried chicken restaurant you want to eat is not open, please try another one;

Niuniu, your brother is still not married at this age. You should urge him when you have time and let him worry about it. Don’t dare to delay forever;

Parents, we at XXX have launched a new course package specifically for…

When your cell phone rings, whether you respond immediately or respond after a while because you have something to do at the time, you will not hear furious criticism and accusations, let alone weird humiliation and abuse. So what else is there to be afraid of?

I was mentally ready for the next job call to come.

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