December 30, 2014

Work-Work Balance (Where'd the life go?)

Hello. I was home last week, and my mom hollered from the other room, "So are you ever going to update your blog, or should I stop checking it?" Whoops. So hi, mama. The only real reader of this dusty corner of the internet.

I had a bit of a meltdown yesterday. I got "home" (Brooklyn) from "home" (Kansas City). Jackson was not with me, and it was my shortest Christmas visit ever, being my first year out of school. Needless to say, I got back and my body felt confused, grumpy, and resistant to adulthood. I had a bit of a pity party: I drank a glass of wine, a cup of tea, and watched Gilmore Girls. The Rory-Lorelai banter helped.

But what was weighing on me was a restlessness. I don't love my job, but it's a job - a well-paying one with nice co-workers and a great boss in the industry I want to be in. Who am I to be complaining? But there are aspects I strongly dislike, and the work itself isn't exactly important or impactful. I know, I am a recent grad wanting to "change the world" - typical. But that's not exactly what's been itching the back of my mind. I want what I do to not only be important (at least to someone), I also want it to enable me to do what I want outside of work. I want the flexibility to visit family and friends and take long walks. Now, I peel myself out of bed, leave as the sun rises, come home hours after it sets, and have just enough time for dinner before bed.

I always try to be optimistic. Just the other day I told my co-worker to calm down because (as my dad is wont to say), "The sun will come up tomorrow." But right now I'm becoming painfully aware and - frankly - crippled by the reality of the career idolatry throughout the "progressive" world. If you aren't working you're looking, and those who work long hours are viewed as "dedicated" and "driven." I want the focus to be on character: "She adores her kids" or "She always goes out of her way to help" or "He is really inquisitive." What I wish didn't happen is the translation to work more, stretch more, do more.

There is a woman at my church from Ireland. Her husband is here is on a work visa, but she is on a spouse visa which means she literally isn't allowed to work. I tell that to people with the deep awe and (admitted) jealousy. I am constantly surprised by how many people react with "Well what does she do all day?" or "That would get so boring." Um, since when is work our source of entertainment, pleasure, and purpose? What blows me away by her is that she contentedly fills her day with bike rides, Bible reading, bakery visits, and coffee dates with numerous people from our church. She is one of the most fulfilled and kind people I've ever met. I want to be like her.

There are numerous advantages to working, and I'm quite grateful for the opportunities and stability that come with having a job. Especially in NYC. But I don't have any desire to get swept up in the mindset that work is it. I want to find a way to work while also living - exuberantly.

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