Why you probably fake sick days

It's not because you have gastro, you liar.

May 2021 – Unseriously Sincere Ideas Write-Up #09

1. I want to talk about length

When I was a comedian, I used to tell this joke around Brazil’s claims that the Amazon River is bigger than the Nile River. I was like, “they’re bluffing!” And then I’d say I knew they were bluffing because “you know how when you want something to look bigger, you trim the area around it?” I’d say, “Brazil is manscaping the Amazon to try and fuck the planet!” It was crass but I really liked that joke. 

In fact, the whole set was pretty crass. It was about big rivers but I talked about them as if they were big dongs. I didn’t want anyone in the audience to feel bad about their own river, so I always mentioned something about size not really mattering as long as you don’t have a dried up little river that smells of dead fish like the Murrumbidgee. However, today, like right now, I would like to announce that I think size does matter.

Sorry to disappoint you but I’m referring to the size of this newsletter. Snore, I know.

Going forward, I’m going to start making it short and punchy like a dry martini because I need to distribute my creative juices a bit better across other writing projects. I’m often late on these things because I write too much. And, and, and, okay, you don’t need more of an explanation than that. You’re not my boss.

Speaking of my boss…

2. I met Mark Manson

I think it’s fair to say that if you have a boss, you’ve likely seen their face in person multiple times throughout your service to them. That’s the way business has been done since employment was invented. People generally work better when someone’s around to tell them what to do or threaten to fire them.

But that’s not to say it’s the only way to get shit done!

I’ve been working on my boss’s empire for a year and a half now but I only met his real-life face for the first time on Friday. We’ve only spoken on the phone less than a handful of times and all other communication is totally keyboard based. 

So do I think our face-to-face introduction will change anything in terms of the way we work together? Unlikely. But does he now know that I’m an introvert who hates speaking on the phone anyway, so it’s actually an excellent culture fit? Yes, as a matter of fact, I believe that was one of his main takeaways. Can I give you more juice on my catch up with my celebrity boss? Not really, that’s kind of unprofessional. But you can learn more about him by reading his books or watching his YouTube channel or signing up to his newsletter. Or don’t, whatever. He doesn’t care.

3. This is probably why you fake sick days

In the last couple of years I’ve come to realise just how introverted I really am. I didn’t really realise at the time, but it’s why I started this whole Comfort is for Wimps sha-bang in the first place.

In fact, getting a job that operates primarily online made me realise where a lot of my faked sick days have come from throughout my career. They were literally just days where my mental health was shot after too much people time. If I actually get physically sick these days, I’m usually pretty happy to work through it because my mind’s health is so jazzy from not having to sit in a boardroom with a bunch of overpowering extraverts. 

If you don’t know what I do, I basically manage Mark’s social media content. Part of the appeal of this job for me was always the fact that I could work from home whenever I wanted and travel and work from anywhere in the world. But then of course the pandemic hit and suddenly everyone could work from home and no one could travel anywhere. And I found it very interesting to hear about the different ways people handled the new enforced way of working. 

The extraverts cried that they were all lonely and missed the water cooler chat, while the introverts basked in the joy of not having to look at anyone in the eye for days. I imagine the mental health of the extraverts took a hit while the minds of the introverts went through a wonderful healing process. 

When our mental states are tip top, it’s much easier for anyone to feel confident and relaxed in a social setting. So my theory is that while a lot of extraverts in the office feed off being around people (allowing them to operate smoothly), introverts are often exhausted and struggle to get a clear enough mind to operate optimally. 

Confidence and extraversion often appear together but confidence is not extraversion and extraversion is not needed to generate the confidence that will improve your life. A healthy mind is.

There’s a common misconception that takes place where we look at extraverted people and assume they’re confident. Confident in who they are, what they’re saying, confident in the awful haircut they just got. But if there’s one thing that Comfort is for Wimps taught me, it’s that confidence is usually invisible. Its rare appearances occur not when we are talking loudly and often on a Zoom call but when our actions demonstrate we’ve made a choice despite the uncertainty of outcome.

Confidence doesn’t happen when someone dominates a room, because domination creates certainty in the fact that people will listen. Confidence happens when we do things like take a risk to quit a job and start a business. When we talk to someone we’re interested in even though they might shut us down. When we commit to dinner with new people even though there’ll be awkward moments because you know, strangers.

In its purest form, confidence is our ability to make decisions despite the uncertainty of an outcome. And both extraverted and introverted people can have or lack this trait.

Heck, even rats can have or lack this trait. There’s a neuroscientist working in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, who studies such things. Adam Kepecs has little rats which he’s surgically attached permanent electrode hats to so he can measure what’s happening in the decision-making part of their tiny pea brains. He conducts experiments where the rats have to stick their heads into holes and make decisions on where they think they’ll get their next drop of water from. This is based on a confusing mix of smells the neuroscientist has created. Once they choose the hole, he then makes them wait a totally unpredictable amount of time before the water drop is released. By making them wait he’s able to measure how firmly they believe in the choice they made. Because obviously after a while some doubt themselves and try other holes. Sometimes going thirsty. But he’s essentially measuring how certain or uncertain they are in their decision-making. How confident they are in their actions. 

Confidence is primal and instinctive, but if you aren’t catering to the needs of your personality type, you won’t be equipped with the healthy mind required to take the risks you need to in life. So look after your head however you can, in whatever ways you can. You never know when you’ll need to stick your head up into a hole.

That’s all from me today, over and out chicos.

Jess from Comfort is for Wimps

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