If you’re looking for a recipe or a food post, this is not it. This is going to be one of those posts in which I ramble, then delete the rambling, then ramble some more, before I realize that I don’t know how to edit myself. But that’s okay, because you’re here for me, not for someone else.
I’ve had a few career transitions in the past 5 years. But consider this – I graduated Indiana State University in the spring of 2009, and we’re just now moving into 2013. I’m not quite 5 years out of college yet, even though I feel as if I’ve accomplished quite a lot in the “school of life.”
Work has taught me a lot. Without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I wouldn’t be as successful with social media if I didn’t go through these transitions. Yet there is something so much more important than work skills that I need to talk about.
Work has taught me how and why I should love life.
Funny, huh? How could something that I do day-in and day-out, that causes me stress and keeps me away from my food blog, my family and fun, teach me how to LOVE life? Isn’t work supposed to make you hate things?
I guess I’m lucky enough to have an awesome day job. Really, the things I complained about 3 years ago are so minor, so minute, that I can barely believe they were of importance to me at one time. Things like having an office, taking time to get up out of my seat and go to lunch, having the ability to take comp time when I work on a Saturday. I’m lucky enough that my work doesn’t always feel like work, and that it gives me the flexibility to know that when I’m home, I’m HOME, and I don’t have to keep working.
I’ve been in situations where work became life. I no longer loved life, because life meant work, and there was no separation between the two, no feeling that work would ever really end. When you can’t set deadlines, or look to the future in a positive way, it really brings you down. It ruins families and relationships. And it doesn’t make you a good worker, either. You can’t be productive when you’re constantly involved in work. If your mind cannot separate the two, you get burnt out. You can’t look at things in a new light. “Burnt out” is not a term to take lightly. I think some employers don’t understand the benefits of not eating lunch at your computer, or getting up and moving around after sitting for two or three hours. Or why I may just need to shut the door and do some yoga stretches.
Luckily, I have that flexibility now. I also live close enough to work that I can go home for lunch, get some puppy kisses, actually cook something delicious to eat, and refresh myself before going back. It’s hard to explain how awesome that is.
I’m about to hit my busy season at work, but I know that after March 21, it’s over. And, I’ll even be boarding a plane for a week-long trip to NYC with my mom and sister the day after. So while the pace at work is faster right now, and I know I’ll probably be going in to work earlier and staying a bit later, I know that after March, IT’S OVER. And I can relax a bit. Just having that to look forward to really makes these three months bearable.
Work has taught me how to love life because of all of this. While I’m no longer working 24/7 and can set deadlines to feel like there is a real beginning and an end, I think I needed to go through that “work hell” to fully appreciate all of the great benefits I have now. When the work day is over, I can go home, get more puppy kisses, and feel confident to work on my own hobbies and projects. Do the dishes. Turn on the record player and dance if I want to. Cook something. Write a blog. Call my mom. All of it.
The second part of this reflection is about how important it is to be part of something larger than yourself.
Think about it – what value do you bring to this world? What is your service to others in your community? Food bloggers may think I’m picking on them here, but I’m not. A food blogger brings value to this world through creativity and self-expression, but what I’m really talking about is how you make a difference in a social good kind of way.
It’s easy for me to come up with examples because I work in a nonprofit. But, when I didn’t work for a nonprofit, I struggled with making this connection. I did not know how important it was for me to feel that I was making a real difference until I was removed from a situation in which I was. I’ll never forget my nonprofit director at the time saying “You didn’t know you wanted to help people until you did.” We were discussing how my art history degree led me to this position in an odd, roundabout way, and she really hit home with that statement. I quoted her when I interviewed to come back to this company after my “work hell” hiatus.
I can’t work my ass off for something I don’t see as a greater good. If I’m not able to be a fulltime food blogger/writer/culinary awesome person, then I am damn well going to make sure I work in an environment that has a good mission, one that helps in a greater good way.
Because I want to make a difference. A good difference. Everything else seems vain to me.
Part of it is a control issue. I know I’m a control freak, but I have no shame in taking charge of my life path and you shouldn’t either. You don’t have to be where you are right now if you don’t want to be there.
It is important for everyone to take time for this reflection. Volunteer. Take a CPR class. Read a book, if that’s all you can do. But refresh your memory about why you are here, right now, and what that means for your future, and your children’s future. Think outside of YOU. Think ten years from now. Think about yesterday, and if tomorrow should be the same. The make note of what changes need to be made.
The bottom line here? Don’t let work rule you. Rule your work to rule your life. Take charge. Life is too damn short to be unhappy.