I burned the midnight oil last night. It wasn’t cool and it didn’t feel rewarding. For years, some of my favorite shows and movies have depicted powerful men sitting at their desks in front of computers toiling away into the night, sipping on bourbon and having ideas that will change the way their company operates. To be frank, that just doesn’t happen when you’re one step above an entry-level employee. It’s not that I wasn’t working—trust me, I had plenty to get done. It’s just that towards the end, I found myself sitting at my desk, eating Cheez-Itz, and staring at a piece of paper that I wrote the word “STAFFING” on for about twenty minutes straight. I looked at the clock and realized that it was 1:00 a.m. That’s when I knew it was time to go.
I’m not 100% sure why I was even there so late. It’s not like any of the work I was doing couldn’t have waited until today to get done. Sure, I could make the argument that I was trying to get everything done so that I could just phone it in today. The problem is that I know it wouldn’t be true. You see, I’m a little over a month into my mission of trying to succeed rather than trying not to fail, and I would be remiss to say that it hasn’t changed me. I’m actively taking on more projects, teaching myself new skills, coming in early, and apparently, staying late. It’s turning some heads at work, which is great. I’m really happy about that, I like to think that it shows I’m growing as a person.
But how much is too much? I had imposter syndrome for a while, and frankly, I still kind of do. The difference is now that I’ve taken initiative, now that I’ve taken steps to improve myself and my reputation at work, I’m realizing the unforeseen effects of it. For example, over the last month, I’ve tried to stop saying “no” as my first response to something. My thought was, as long as I’m not saying “no” to something right off the bat, it might boost positivity and collaboration around the workplace. Instead of shutting someone down right away, I would hear them out and try to work together with them to come to the conclusion of “no.”
That was a stupid, stupid idea. I should have thought ahead of time that we say no for a reason and that reason is because we either can’t or won’t respond to their request. By saying literally anything other than no, it opens the door for someone to make a compelling case for why I should take on their troubles or projects or whatever. So now, I get overworked and still have people coming to me asking for help, thinking that I’m always open for assistance.
And so here I am. Coming in hot after a long ass day, feeling overworked and overwhelmed. This isn’t what I thought it would feel like. There are so many clichés out there about success. “The path to success is not a straight line, and it’s paved with blood, sweat, coffee, and ramen.” I don’t think that’s an actual quote from someone, but that’s what they all essentially boil down to, right? Hard work isn’t fun. You question yourself every time you do it, wondering whether or not the outcome is worth these long nights and bags of Cheez-Itz for dinner. I still don’t know if it’s worth it, but at this point, I’m too far in to give it up.