Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

You know those blobfish? The ones from the deep sea that look like their face is melting, that look like they’re very sad versions of Danny DeVito as the Penguin in Batman Returns?

Apparently, they don’t actually look like that. It’s only when you take them from the pressure of their natural environment that they melt, relax into a completely different shape, and stare at you reproachfully like you don’t even know who I am, man.

I think people are like blobfish. We’re given form by the pressures & constraints around us. I’m not actually a naturally organized person, but my job requires it, so after many years everyone thinks that I am that person. I was never a morning person, and then I had a child, and suddenly I can’t sleep past 7am. Our outer shells are bashed into shape by the walls we run into along the way.

A few years ago I left a job that I loved. It was a stressful environment. It had become toxic over a number of years, boiling the proverbial frog, tumbling chaotically towards a manic, constantly changing version of itself. I’m a person who embraces change and constant learning, but most of the time it was like nailing Jello to a tree. I was tired, all the time. I was injured, all the time. I was emotionally invested, when I should have been investing elsewhere. There was too much pressure, too many hard edges. I was the opposite of the blobfish — a coalfish, maybe. (The metaphor breaks down a little there.)

I went to a position in a different company that was at the other end of the spectrum — super structured and moving at a glacial pace. It felt like I had been going 900mph and slammed straight into a brick wall. I lost my form, relaxed into a blobby shape. I didn’t even recognize myself and I certainly couldn’t show my new co-workers who I really was, or what I could do, while in that environment.

I lasted 3 months.

I bailed to go to another higher-pressure environment, hopefully not quite as stressful as the first one, but something more suited to my form. That’s where I float, a few years later, only halfway down the Mariana Trench instead of at the bottom. The water is fine here, although I’m starting to think I could do with a little more depressurizing. Maybe just not so much that I get the bends again.

I often wonder who people would be if the pressures of their lives hadn’t formed their shapes. An angelfish here, a shark over there. Who would you be, if you found yourself in a completely different part of the ocean?



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Keely Tyler

Keely Tyler


Tech employee, student of herbalism, artist, multi-potentialite. I will write about account management one day and zombies the next. Don’t fence me in, man.