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Every day when I sit at my computer, battling the ever-present antagonist that is my inbox and my to-do list, I repeat the same internal monologue.
“A million people would kill for your spot right now.”
“This is you living out your dream life.”
“I love my job I love my job I love my job.”
All of the aforementioned statements are absolutely true. We recently hired an assistant, like the most entry of entry “foot in the door” positions, and received almost 50 applications for that base-level job in just two weeks. I’m constantly asked if we’re hiring, how I got this job, what it entailed, what “advice” I have for someone with goals in the same industry. I’m asked for connections within the company, within competing companies, and so on and so forth. There are a lot of reasons why my life and my career and my job all look very shiny, very cool, and ultimately very enviable.
And that last part, the little head nod to a certain red head in The Devil Wears Prada, is also exponentially true.
I really do, sincerely, wholeheartedly, love my job.
But there’s a part of me that’s not so shiny and glam. The part who checks her email first thing in the morning, who hasn’t had a full weekend off in well over a year, who even answered a G-Chat after going through a funeral line. And that part is evidence that maybe I love it a little too much.
Where once sat someone who was professionally adequate but had a bubbling social life is now someone who never goes out anymore unless it’s an “event” for work. Where once was the girl who believed “things have a funny way of working out in the end” is now someone who adamantly only believes that things only work out if you refuse to stop until they do. Where once was someone who had balance and limits is now a self-diagnosed workaholic who doesn’t know when to say when.
My dedication to work and climbing the metaphorical corporate ladder is a defining characteristic of who I am. And as proud as I am of that characteristic, I think it might also be slowly killing me.
I worry about taking days off because of how behind it’ll put me when I come back. My anxiety makes me literally wake up at night panicking that I forgot to complete a task or that I dropped the ball on something I agreed to accomplish. On the days I do say, “Hey, not going to be available today.” I’m still instinctually a text message away because I’ve created a precedent where I always am that completely available person.
I’ve done it to myself; that isn’t lost on me. I know I’m very much responsible for the current state of affairs. But this self-inflicted “go go go” is becoming less outwardly admirable, and more internally self-destructive.
A response combatting the infamous “all millennials are lazy and love selfies more than they love anything else” Time article recently highlighted all of the ways that we as twenty-somethings (or newly thirty-somethings) are actually killing ourselves to work. Essentially, it points out that we’re so worried about the economy dooming us and just getting in our “shot” in the first place that we’re actually driving ourselves into the ground. We’re becoming “work martyrs” all in the name of setting ourselves up for the ultimate, most idealistic future.
But at what cost? Is the future even going to be worth looking forward to if you’re going to have pop a Lexapro in order to get there without having a panic attack?
I love my job, I do. But I guess I wish loving it didn’t seem to be synonymous with letting it completely define my every move.
Even as I finesse the final points of this essentially “woe is me” column, I’m thinking about everything I still have to do. I’m staring at my Google Calendar, just sure I missed something. I’m trying to anticipate how to get ahead, so I can take time off. I’m bracing myself for everything my CEO is going to ask me to add to my already incredibly full plate when have our inevitable, “let’s set some goals!!” meeting next week. I fight the urge to respond “duh” when one of my friends asks the oh-so-obvious question, “working tonight?”
Maybe someday I’ll learn how to take a knee from the never-ending marathon that seems to be “success in the workplace.” Maybe I’ll figure out how that whole, “Don’t live to work, work to live” motto actually becomes reality. Maybe I can find a way to make life for future me as cushiony, shiny, and lovely while also making life for present me a bit less of non-stop stress situation.
Hopefully, without the aid of Lexapro in the process. But present me doesn’t think that looks very likely. .
Image via Netflix