I came to write a blog post today and was hit with an “it’s been two years since your last post” automated message. Two years?! This is incredible to me, shocking and yet not really that surprising once I think about it for a moment. Turns out it’s really only been a year and a half and apparently WordPress likes to round, but it has also been two+ years since my divorce, two years split between four different home situations, two+ years working two jobs, two years building a new relationship, two+ years with a nephew and more family obligations….the list goes on. I know that life goes fast for everyone, everyone is busy with all their own stuff, everyone has their own concerns and motivations – I am not unique. And yet just lately I have felt so drowned in all of it.
I stumbled upon this post today while searching for something else and it called out to me so clearly. I think we all read these things hoping somehow to find THE ANSWER there and it never is there (because how could it be?) but sometimes what you find is helpful, which was the case for me today.
I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about this issue – having two jobs, seemingly for all eternity, and the attendant sapping of my time and energy that comes with it. I recently made the decision to sign another six month lease at the salon. Although I’ve talked about the possibility of winding down my salon work in the near future, when the time came to make a definitive decision I didn’t feel ready to walk away just yet.
There’s so much tied up in the work we do – at least for some of us. I know there are people who just do the job and go home and if the job kinda sucks, oh well – it’s not an identifying feature of their life. But that has never been me. I’ve quit jobs that weren’t the right fit and I’ve gone back to school to try to jump-start a new career path. My feeling is I spend so much time at work, at the very least I want to like it, best case scenario: it’s fulfilling.
I used to be of the mind that it HAD to be fulfilling. The realities of adulthood have tempered that a little. I’m coming around to being the kind of person who looks for fulfillment in many areas of my life, not just work, not just my relationship. It’s hard, but it does free me up to care just that little bit less about what I am doing with my work day.
However, I still tie a lot of my identity to the work I do. I have identified for a long time now as someone who isn’t conventional, who eschews the cubicle – someone who does better with odd hours and odd people. But that hasn’t been my day-to-day for a while now (two years!) and I think I’m happier here. I’m certainly more comfortable – I make more money, I spend less time on my feet (although more in a chair, which is unhealthy in a different way), I have more control over my schedule – all good things.
There’s a lot about unconventional work that I don’t miss. It’s more that it had been a piece of who I was and now I can’t claim it anymore. I have this fear of being normal, this fear of being conventional that in practice is actually kind of a hindrance because it might stop me from living my best life.
But I also have this love of creature comforts, this desire for a beautiful home and free time and travel and the best food and drink – that I also fear could stop me from living my best life. This sounds ridiculous on the surface – like “isn’t that you living your best life?” But it makes me wonder if I could find something more fulfilling if only I had the courage to sacrifice for a while. Would it be worth it?
I have a growing sense that the older I get the better I get and the better life gets. I have a tendency to look at what’s happening to me right now and assume it’ll just be the same moving forward – that it’s relatively static. But I can look back only two years to a time when I was in a polite, but unhappy marriage; when I was managing a shop full of people who hated the shop where we all worked; when I was less self-assured than I am now; when I had fewer friends, fewer plans, and very few family obligations. I may be busier now and more stressed, I may feel like I am overworked and understimulated – but I like to believe my life is richer now, too.