I Literally Changed My Perspective in One Afternoon
Last week, in the course of one afternoon, I literally changed my perspective. And when I say literally, I mean both physically and mentally. If I’d had any idea how one little change in my work space would make life easier, I would have done it a few years back. You might not think that six inches could prevent a lot of grief but for me, those six inches meant having to see something every day that I didn’t want to see and that forced me to spend a lot more time getting over a heartache than I should have. Until I changed my perspective, there was no such thing as out-of-sight-out-of-mind.
When I first moved into my office, I had a choice of a much bigger space down the hall but the furniture was dark and the energy there was…icky, for lack of a better description. The whole area felt heavy and oppressive, partly because of a couple of argumentative personalities in that area. I chose the smaller office on the outskirts of the entire organization’s physical space so that I could sit close to my team rather than with the other bosses, and my little office was bright, with good light and a good view. I had a choice of buying new furniture and instead elected to save money by grabbing some light-colored “blond” desks, bookcase, file cabinets,and hutch from the salvage truck. They were beat up a bit, missing some handles and bookcase doors, but I’m known for taken broken things and making them into star-shine and so they fit my personal agenda without costing my employer a dime.
The problem with the new furniture was that my office was wired for phones and computers only on one wall, and that meant my desk had to be situated in a way that I couldn’t have a matching L attached to my main desk. I said, “No biggie,” and shoved the L against the wall behind me and instead used a small typing desk for paperwork, mouse, and pens. Not exactly ergonomic but this was my daily scenery for five years before I changed it last week.
Early on, my then-boyfriend would drop by to see me regularly, and on several occasions we sat and laughed about my view from my little typing desk that I either looked across during most of my meetings or looked up from when signing something important, and about how I had a very specific view out the tall, narrow window beside me. I could sit and hold counsel with anyone who’d come into my office, and in the periphery of my vision, I could see everyone coming to or going from my building, I could see three specific parking spots, and I knew who arrived and left at what times. All from sitting at my desk and not even looking out the window intentionally. Yes, how funny!
Until it wasn’t.
Until I told him I no longer wanted him in my life and the next week, he started parking in that narrow slant of view so that I could not have a discussion with my supervisor without seeing his vehicle, and often him, and on many occasions him with someone else. He knew exactly where and how to hurt me, how to make sure I didn’t forget him, how to make sure I’d be reminded of him every freaking day I went to work. He began parking regularly in the very spot we’d said I could see everything during every meeting.
I thought about re-arranging my office, but my furniture would not fit correctly unless I wanted to jump my desk every time I moved from my doorway to my chair, and parkour isn’t something I want to do in a dress fifty times a day. I couldn’t justify buying new furniture–that bordered on fraud, waste, and abuse–and really, once the furniture was in my office, it wasn’t going anywhere unless it had help from a sledge hammer.
“Just close your blinds so you don’t see him out there four times a day,” a friend suggested, knowing it was like a bad accident you can’t look away from. But I refused because I loved the light and the windows and the view without him in it, and it felt like I was giving up something important to me to sit in the dark and pretend.
Fast forward to a month ago when I was finishing a course and stayed home for a week to write the final exam essay, returning to work with an awful case of repetitive stress injury to my shoulder. The injury has improved slowly but after learning I’d be in my current job a little while longer, I decided I needed a change. Desperately. I couldn’t wait another week. I had to change SOMETHING in my life.
I realized when I looked under my L-desk that I’d not made any changes in 5 years. Every time I had a free hour, it was already spent. So there was no time for rearranging during work and any time I stayed late, it certainly wasn’t to move desks. So I called in some of the best muscles in my crew and asked him to shift the L into a different position–not the correct position but different.
The result was that I now must sit six inches back from my old position, whether at my computer or L-desk. It’s still not ergonomic but I saw the difference immediately. IMMEDIATELY. I’d had no idea that any kind of rearrangement would mean a shift in my own physical position, even by a few inches.
My new perspective was not of people sneaking off to lunch but of a beautiful oak tree. My blinds were still open at an angle so I could relish the sunlight but at the same time see what I wanted to see, enjoy my point of view, and without the disruption of the last few years.
Just like that, my perspective changed physically, and my office became a more peaceful and pleasant place to be, without the constant reminders of a past I had been trying to leave behind.
Key Takeaway: Sometimes, small changes we make in our physical environment bring about big positive changes in our well-being.