My work and non-work life is getting harder to separate | Matt Mohan-Hickson

It was in the windowless basement of a HMV store when a former friend uttered one of the most profound thoughts I have ever heard.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 4:56 pm
How many different faces do you show to others?

We were probably 15-years-old and a group of us had gone to town to simply kill time, in the way that you do as a teenager with no good place to be.

As we were strolling between the aisles of DVDs, he exclaimed: ‘We are all two-faced liars. We change who we are depending on the people we are with.’

This is not verbatim mind, but it was definitely pretty similar.

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But being 15, I did not recognise the profundity of the sentiment and only heard ‘two-faced liars’.

I remember protesting profusely and feeling genuinely offended at being called a liar. We like to think of ourselves as a single person, one entity that exists as a whole while we walk this earth.

But I don’t think this is true. There are many, many, versions of Matthew. The one that exists as a faint memory in my childhood friends. The stranger who was wearing a rude cat beanie on the train. The Matthew who likes to make up stupid dances in his bedroom while he is alone. The boyfriend. The brother. The son.

Are any more true than the rest? Who can say.

It is like ancient Greek theatre: We don different masks for different occasions, even if we don’t realise we are doing it.

However recently I have started to become worried that the mask labelled ‘Work Matthew’ is becoming harder and harder to take off. I am worried that I am on a path that ends up with me becoming a cautionary tale.

Last weekend for example, I dragged myself to West Quay in a quest to find a new winter coat (among other items in a wider wardrobe refresh) and failed miserably. Feeling in a sour mood, I suddenly found myself with an urge to jump in and do some work, to accomplish something worthwhile. A dangerous thought.

The boundaries between work and non-work life are starting to crumble. I spend all day working in my bedroom and it is becoming increasingly difficult to switch out of the mindset, especially with my work laptop being just within reach. And there is always more I can do.

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Now they are under the microscope, every side hustle and second or third job being scrutinised when in another timeline they would have gone unnoticed.

And they are finally plunging in the polls as well.

You have to wonder, could Boris soon be moved on in the same way as his predecessor?

If I was a Tory MP currently having my name splashed on the cover of a national newspaper, I’d perhaps consider sharpening my backstabbing knives. But thankfully I am not a Tory MP.

Why does shopping for clothes have to be so hard?

I have often found clothes shopping to be quite an ordeal.

I have a tendency to create a picture in my mind of the items I want, but I can’t quite articulate what they are.

Which ends up with me stumbling around shops not entirely sure what I am looking for – only that I will know it when I see it.

A very smart strategy I know.

It also doesn’t help that I get extremely shy if there are other people also looking in the same vicinity of the store as me.

I have no idea why.

But I guess perhaps I worry what people will think if I pick up the ‘wrong’ jacket or ‘wrong’ shirt. As if I am interesting enough for other shoppers to take note of.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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