Some girls take courses at all the best schools in France
Riding their horses and learning their modern dance.
They’re clever and cultured and worldly wise.
But you see the world through a child’s wide eyes.
Their dreams are grand ones, you want what’s just in reach.
Some girls you learn from, some you teach.
—“Some Girls” from “Once On This Island”
Some girls grow up fighting about things like:
- Their choice of boyfriends
- The way they dress
- Maybe they get bad grades in school / didn’t get into the right school
- Drug or other alcohol related problems
- Going out/partying too much/too late
- Getting into trouble with the law
- Cheating on significant others / backstabbing friends
I have fights which are work/career related. Not “I’ve decided to become a stripper” or “I can’t be bothered and want to work at fast food counters” type fights. Just “I know what I’m doing right now is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life because as crazy as it may seem to the rest of the world I really do want to write Broadway musicals so I would really like to get some reasonable sort of work/life balance and more time to myself so I can work on this” fights.
I like to think – and hope that I am not alone in thinking – that I am a reasonably mature, stable, high-achieving, independent, focused young woman who knows what she wants but doesn’t foolishly chase after it without triply thinking things through and several contingency plans. I’m well aware of the sheer virtual impossibility of this dream; and thus the proportionally greater effort that needs to be applied to actually get anywhere with it.
Unfortunately, I still have the same five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes as everyone else. On any given day, work and work related activities (including work done before, during and after the commute to/from work) consume 840 minutes; other activities necessary for survival (e.g. sleep, eat, personal hygiene) take up 600 minutes; leaving me with a scant – let’s see now – oh, ZERO minutes left over to do anything.
The insightful reader will probably point out that I’ve not specifically mention weekends at the moment. Kudos to you, I’m just going to say that I’ve not really had a full weekend off without doing any work since I’ve been back from New York. Not to mention also teaching piano on the weekends, dealing with massive issues with an apartment and somehow trying to fit some sort of social life in. The insightful reader might also point out that I obviously do not want this bad enough if I am still trying to fit a social life in. To you, I’m going to say two things:
- We need rest and relaxation to produce anything worthwhile. No wonder I can’t write anything good – not only am I really new at this, I’m also sleep deprived and stressed.
- If you thought that was an excuse, try this instead – I refuse to believe that in this day and age, we have to choose an extreme of one or the other. Yes, I am Gen Y and frankly, I don’t think it is so unreasonable of me to want a career that I love and that I am passionate about which still leaves me with ample non-work time for a social life.
Anyway. Somehow whenever the discussion about me taking my current job part time so I have time to pursue what I really want to do with my life comes up, I inevitably come across two viewpoints:
- “THAT’S SO AWESOME YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GO FOR IT!!!” (thanks all who fall into this camp…much morale support needed and appreciated)
- “…” – such silences can be split between
- Those who think I’m an idiot for even considering it because how could you possibly contemplate a deviation from the tightly structured career path at a Big Four Accounting Firm (with all capital letters included) and that I must be lazy; and
- those who think it means I’m not serious about and/or committed to whatever it is I am taking part time.
The former group of detractors normally come from the point of view where in their mind it is incomprehensible to take any sort of reduction in monetary benefits (i.e. salary) to gain in other benefits (i.e. work/life balance, time to pursue your life’s passion). This attitude is also welded to the concept of “sacrifice now, enjoy later” and the need to “secure the future”. A few problems I have with this argument are:
- Monetary benefits are all well and good, but as a senior manager I admire once said to me, “past a certain dollar value, it doesn’t matter how much more they pay me, it doesn’t make up for the extra time at work”. Of course, I’ve also spoken with partners who have said the exact opposite (“it’s certainly worth it, I get paid a lot”) but I question how in tune that is with my own personal values and the way I want to live my life.
- I appreciate the need to plan for the long-term but really, when is enough enough? Past a certain point, the dollar value earned just doesn’t give the same incremental gain to happiness or fulfillment. And it’s not like I’ll be able to take any of it with me anyway.
- This is all based on the premise of living for a very long time. Not that I am trying to jinx or ill wish anything, but we can make all the plans we want but we really have no idea what will happen tomorrow. There is
No Day But Today. I don’t want to be forever working and waiting until that far off “someday” when I have enough money/security/other such and such to start pursuing my dreams. I don’t want to look back and have massive regrets that I’ve wasted my life.
- I don’t think just because I want to do something part time means I can’t be serious about what I choose to do in the time I’ve allocated to that part of my life or that I’m not committed. Although there is a positive correlation between time invested and seriousness/commitment to the task, it’s not necessarily causal; strategic focus, discipline, efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility are better measures.
Sometimes I think I’m stuck living in the future so much that I don’t know how to enjoy the present anymore. I feel physically and mentally drained and utterly exhausted every moment of every day. I dread every morning because I know I’ve got a massive stack of things left undone that I’ve already pushed back and need to be done because I can’t push them back any longer. I’m feeling guilty sitting here and writing this instead of working, because I had originally planned on doing work tonight but I couldn’t bring myself to. Just like how I was meant to work last Sunday but couldn’t force myself past the massive headache and then subsequently felt deeply guilty for not working.
Most of all, I wish I didn’t care as much about not letting other people down. I wish I could just let go of it all and not feel a thing. I wish I could bring myself to go on and buy a plane ticket right now and just…leave…
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