Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.
A closely related term, cognitive disequilibrium, was coined … to refer to the experience of a discrepancy between something new and something already known or believed.
It is increasingly true, and increasingly uncomfortable that I have two distinct lives.
In one, I live with my adorable family, in a cute little house in a tiny village, on a road with a farmer’s field at the end of it. Here the work day starts after the kids have had breakfast and are off to school, and ends gradually starting about 4pm, but often not petering out completely until around 8. We have a hot tub and a mini van, and keep busy with a variety of community and church activities — spending a lot of time driving. I very rarely see co-workers, so from my desk in the basement, I do my best to move pieces around the board (while cognizant of my place on someone else’s board) mostly over e-mail and by conference call. This life is comfortable, but grows slowly, my only concession to a demanding career is that I’m attached to my cell phone at all times.
In another, I am alive, active and interacting in person from 7:00am until sometimes 2:00am. No less than three sizable cities are my playground, and although there are still emails and phone calls, this place is like an epicenter of action, drawing people into it to change things, move things, and directly influence the course of technology. Every conversation has potential impact, every meeting has consequence, and everyone I come across is interesting. The pace is breakneck, but it is fun! And I’m surrounded by things I only dreamed of glimpsing. Though is life isn’t nearly as comfortable, growth is observable on a nearly daily basis. However, it’s only allowance for family is a 10 minute call/Skype every day or two.
I could imagine a balance between these two lives, where I can go hard at my job during the weekday, and then relax into a comfortable life with my wonderful family evenings and weekends — taking regular vacations that enforce a clear seperation from work and home. But unlike most people, my personal life and my professional life are seperated by the width of a continent. I am, by the demands of time and space, either one person or the other. And to change modes takes 7-8 hours of travel.
The best I know how to do is make the most out of whatever mode I am in at a given time. But the longer I spend in each version of myself, the stranger the other one becomes when I’m forced to make the hand off. From a baby-puke covered T-shirt, to a sport jacket and an $80 bottle of wine… with 2500 miles, and usually a week, between each switch.
Don’t get me wrong: I genuinely have the best of both worlds. But it’d be nice if I could have them both in one place…