When Rachel and I were first hanging out together—trying to reimagine ourselves in our ravaged city—we coined a phrase to describe the crushing depression we both experienced at times on awakening, the dread that sat on our chests proclaiming its dominance over our day before we’d even opened our eyes. We called it “feeling Eli.”
I’d adopted it from an episode of Aaron Sorkin’s Sports Night in which the Josh Charles character, sensing something terrible is about to happen, keeps telling the Peter Krause character, “Eli’s coming,” a reference to the Three Dog Night song. At the end of the episode they get word their managing editor has had a massive stroke.
On bad days, either Rachel or I would wake up and text, “Feeling Eli,” and almost always the recipient would respond, “Same.” It was an acknowledgement that on that morning—whether because we’d had too much to drink the night before, or had too much uncertainty to face on the day ahead—the world seemed ominous and unnavigable.
But as bad as Eli felt, having Rachel to share it with made it less scary.
My first week on the new job has me feeling Eli. It’s opened up all the insecurities and uncertainties I’d anticipated, and despite the outpouring of affirmation I’ve received from my colleagues, I’m feeling shaky and unmoored. The learning curve is steep, and with already-scheduled reports due and requests for new ones hitting me daily, I can’t imagine how I’ll ever be able to scale it.
The lifestyle I’ve either chosen or fallen into is solitary; mostly it seems fine, but when I’m under pressure it leaves me feeling isolated and unsupported. There’s no one to talk to about how outmatched I feel about my responsibilities, how terrified I am of disappointing the people who’ve placed not only their faith but their opportunity for success in me. Right now, I’m sitting alone in my kitchen writing this, and when I close up my laptop and stumble to bed there’ll no one in it to share my restless sleep.
Feeling Eli is sad; feeling Eli alone is scary and sad.