Lately, I have been so bizarrely content to lay on the couch watching TV for hours that I don’t recognize myself. Part of me is like, Uh oh. The other part of me is like, Rock on, lady. TV rules.
No Mom, I’m not going to lay around watching TV when I no longer have a job. I’m just trying to make a point. I’m tired. Is the point.
The purgatory of these last few weeks is exhausting. Or maybe the years I’ve spent trying to juggle all these commitments of mine are finally catching up to me.
All the stuff I’ve been packing into my days for the last seven or eight years – getting back into school and graduating, the weight loss, the exercise habit, ending a troubled relationship, entering into my first healthy Big Girl Relationship complete with We Live Together Now, the various paycheck jobs, the comedy jobs, more recently the bakery – it’s all stuff I’m so grateful to have and to have experienced. And it’s also a lot of work, lots of hours, lots of things that fill up each day, schedules that find me leaving the house at 9am and returning at 11pm, not yet having eaten dinner. And it’s been that way for a long time. Makes sense, really. I’m in my twenties and I don’t have kids – what better time to pack up my schedule until I can’t see straight. And I’m glad to have done it. Before I had this kind of schedule, I had the kind of schedule where I sat around, fat and unhappy, and did next to nothing. So I’d say this is an improvement. But it’s time to strike a balance between the nothing and the everything.
It’s the New York City way, to pack in as much as possible, but it doesn’t have to be. And not everyone who makes their life here lives that way. As I move into this new phase, I will still have my beloved projects, relationships and commitments, but I’m going to make it my priority to create more time and space between them all too. That down time is something I am starting to require (as I grow gray hair).
I want to be able to cook dinner. Once in a while. And I don’t want to have to schedule it all out to make it fit into my day. I just want to, say, shop for the ingredients in a leisurely fashion, come home, turn on some music or the news and stand around in my kitchen putting it all together. Patiently, calmly, maybe with a glass of wine, maybe without nagging hunger begging me to scrap it all and order Chinese food because it’s 11:30pm and I’m ravenous and going to start throwing a temper tantrum if I don’t eat soon.
I don’t even know what that lifestyle is like, the one where you cook dinner. I honestly haven’t a clue. I’m about to turn 29 years old and I’ve never had that kind of lifestyle. I’m not complaining, I’m just observing. Luckily, it’s up to me to make it so. Maybe I’ll hate it! Can’t wait to find out.
Maybe I’ll get really into decorating my apartment! Or collecting cheap, cute necklaces! Or sewing! (Probably not sewing.) (But maybe!)
Blue and I had drinks and dinner on Saturday night. It was great to spend some time with her and catch up – we had a lovely chat in which we were both able to talk about stuff that was on our minds. It’s a blessing to have her in my life right now, to be able to bounce things off each other and reflect back to each other our experience of these similar journeys we’re on.
After having quit her table-waiting job a little over a month ago, she’s nearing the end of her “30 Days.” It was a month during which she planned to avoid survival jobs, to pursue work she’s passionate about and to find out more about herself. Not surprisingly, this month has taken her places and given her experiences that she wasn’t anticipating. It’s so exciting to hear where she is with it all mentally, and how open she is to laying her expectations aside and responding to her own needs. She’s been doing an excellent job of letting any judgment, her own or other people’s, fall away and that’s not an easy task. I recommend checking out her blog entries about this last month. It’s interesting and inspiring to read her progress.
It wasn’t a coincidence that on my walk to meet up with her on Saturday night I’d been thinking about what my own experience will be like once I’m no longer working. I wonder where I’ll be a month and a half from now. I definitely feel a sense of pressure, applied by myself and no one else, to “figure it out.” To come up, rather quickly, with a new career, a new path, a focused direction out of all these things I’m invested in, and one that can generate income right away. I realized that I’ve been subconsciously telling myself that right now! is the time I should be figuring out that new path – while I’m still at the desk job and I have the time and the paycheck to do so in a risk-free setting. I’ve been telling myself that once I leave here, it is my duty to begin walking down the new path that I’ve neatly laid out. And ASAP.
Ugh. I’ve got to stop telling myself that stuff. Because that’s not what I want out of this.
I’m so done with “asap.” Honestly. Enough is enough with the pressure and the time lines and all the judgment that comes with how long stuff takes, or what pit stops you make along the way. I don’t want to let people down, let myself down, or appear like I made the wrong choice. But I just can’t worry about that. I cannot worry about other people’s expectations for this process, or other people’s feelings that it was a mistake that I quit my job. Any and all success I’ve had in my life has come from following my own time line and listening to my own needs, not adhering to someone else’s. I’m reminded of that saying that goes something like, “Be yourself and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of you. The people who matter don’t care, and the people who care don’t matter.” Amen.
There is no time line. There is no race. I’m not in any hurry to create anything for myself other than a sense of peace and contentment. And that can come in many forms. I didn’t quit this job so that I could magically manifest the next perfect-for-me career and walk right into it after 3.75 weeks of relaxation and 1.25 weeks of pre-planning.
I quit this job because I’ve never had an opportunity to do something like this before. I quit this job because I never intentionally chose to make a career out of office administration, I just ended up doing so. And now I intentionally choose NOT to do so any longer. I’ve spent the last seven years cleaning up the messes I made in college, paying my penance. There were bills to pay and debt to tend to and weight to lose and emotional baggage to pack into smaller suitcases. Following my professional bliss didn’t seem to fit anywhere within that, nor did I have the emotional maturity to handle something like that at the time. It meant I took the jobs I could get, not the jobs I wanted.
For the first time in my adult life, I don’t have to do something I don’t want to do, be someone I’m not, just because my circumstances make it so. There is such a simple freedom in that.
Right now, I want to know who I am when all I have to do in a day is to cook a healthy dinner. I want to know who I am when I don’t have to show up to an office job every day. I want to know who I am when I have free time to practice yoga, keep my apartment tidy and spend time doing the things that make me happy. I want to know who I am without a weight loss project at my feet, without needing more therapy, without relationships to repair. I’ve learned a lot about myself by writing this blog for the last nine months and by talking to other people who are on or have experienced similar journeys. But I have to continue the learning process now by doing the actual field research. I know I’m very lucky to have the chance to do this, but I’ve worked hard for it, so I guess it’s not really luck so much as it is privilege.
If I stay open to the possibilities and commit myself, when I finally leave this job (three more work weeks!), to doing things that make me feel fulfilled, pursuing work I’m passionate about, and slowing down so that I can fully take in this big, beautiful life I have, I know that the right career path for me will eventually emerge out of that. However long it takes.
It might be right away, but it might not. It might be an instant, obvious choice, but it might not be. I might have already discovered it, or maybe I haven’t. I might have to go work in a cafe, at a bookstore, with children, with old people, with animals, selling shoes, making sandwiches – to make ends meet – or maybe I won’t. Maybe any one of those jobs is the new path. And maybe it’s not.
I’m going to have to constantly remind myself that this is not a race. That I am not on a time line. I’m also going to have to remind myself that my success and happiness is not based on my pace, the amount of activities I can cram into a day, or how far I try to spread my energy. I’m going to have to remind myself that if I show up to my grandparents’ house at Christmas time with a measly job as a coffee shop barista and the announcement that I’m “gonna write a book!” or I’m “gonna travel the world!” or I “still don’t have health insurance!” it’s okay if they all look at me sideways, try to talk me out of it, or don’t talk to me at all. Too bad for them. I’m pretty cool if you get to know me.
My ultimate goal is to create:
A career that lets me feel happy and fulfilled.
A career that allows me to create a work/life balance.
A career that provides me with financial abundance.
That will happen someday, maybe sooner, maybe later. The immediate goal is to discover that career by spending my time in ways that fill me up and make me happy – pursuing projects I’m interested in, spending time with people I enjoy being around, and doing things that I like to do.
This particular blog entry will serve as a reminder for me, something to read and feel encouraged by if I start wondering what the hell I’ve done.