I Decided Enough Was Enough.
There was a particular night where I was extremely exhausted after a long shift. Like could barely make it to the bathroom to take a shower, kind of exhausted. I felt crummier than dry cornbread and I thought, “Where did I go wrong?”
I was sold this way of life by everyone around me since I was a child. Up until now, I thought this was the right way to go.
Go to grade school, work hard, make good grades, do extracurriculars to get into a good college, work hard again, to get a good job to work even harder for the next 40 years. And if you must take out loans to go to college, do it! Its ok because you’ll get a good job!
If I read that aloud, I’d be out of breath.
While reliving the past, I found that every single job I had from the age to 16 until now in my late 20s had left me mentally, physically, and emotionally drained after nearly every shift.
And if I happened to be sick and unable to afford a sick day, recovery became even more of a challenge.
Add that to juggling a full-time course load, high school and college included. And no matter which industry be it, food service, retail, administrative, clinical technologist, etc they all kicked my butt and I was drained!
As I laid stretched out on my bed trying my hardest to wind down, I couldn’t help but ask myself, is this all there is?
After burning myself out for nearly 7 years working multiple jobs and earning two degrees full time. Was this what all my hard work had amounted to?
I was coming home so exhausted with no mental or physical capacity for housework, cooking dinner, or my husband’s corny, but funny jokes.
There were nights my body begged for the sweet release of sleep to a point where it was all I could think about until the moment I hopped into bed.
I fought back tears. Feeling this way for the next 40 years or so of my life scared me. I couldn’t help but think about how children would fit into all of this and the doubt began to set in whether my body could continue to handle the stress.
But those thoughts continued to stick with me.
I had worked so tirelessly hard to get to a point in my life, that inevitably required me to work even harder for the rest of my life.
And what really did it in for me was the simple truth that it would all be for someone else’s gain.
Yeah sure, my diverse work history, education, and training finally allowed me an ok salary. Yet the exhaustion would linger and being short on time hardly allowed for substantial recovery.
There were some work weeks that were so long and demanding compared to the short and fleeting weekend.
Sundays became a bittersweet harbinger reminding me to salvage my last day off before Monday.
The Moment of Clarity and Self Honesty
Then the idea hit me with brute force clarity. If I was going to be this exhausted after a day of hard work, I wanted it to be a result of working hard on my own terms.
Being completely honest with myself I realized something important. No matter who I ended up working for, if it wasn’t for myself, I’d be spending the majority of my day doing yet another job I couldn’t care less about.
I was coming home feeling unfulfilled, exhausted, and cheated out of my time. It became more obvious to me that the 40-hour work week was not for me.
And if you find yourself feeling the same way, day in and day out, then it may not be for you either.
Just be honest with yourself for a moment. Do you see yourself being happy and fulfilled doing what you are now?
It’s ok if you struggle at first to tackle such raw emotion. I struggled at first to being honest with myself too.
I mean, we’ve been told about this one path track to life all of our lives. And there’s nothing wrong with you if you realize that it doesn’t feel right.
First, I told myself, “I just need a change of pace, something new, something different.”
I told myself this very same thing several times, and quickly found out that I was wrong usually within 6 months to a year of working there.
Then, I said “More education and training is all I need and once I’m paid a good salary, I’ll be happy.” I was wrong again.
I’ve been working in what I thought was my dream field for quite some time now. Earned some raises and promotions. Yet, I was still not satisfied because the fact remained:
My time was not mine.
Am I preaching to the choir here?
How many times have you found yourself saying, “If I just do this or that, maybe then I’ll be fine.?”
“Just one more job change…”
“ One more degree…”
“Maybe a position with better benefits…”
“Perhaps a change of scenery…”
Stop, listen to yourself, and reevaluate.
Chances are that the 40-hour work week is not for you.
And that’s ok.
You stuck it out. Hung in there. You tried to get use to it (as so many helpful people have told me).
But no dice. Yet again, its ok.
The first step is being honest with yourself about what you want. If you’re unsure, it’s a start.
Honesty with yourself truly is the first step. Now the next one involves some brainstorming.
What do you see yourself doing that will make you money on your own terms?
Is it building a client base in an industry you’re already familiar with?
Or is it helping and teaching others with your expertise?
Perhaps its something completely different. That’s ok too. Just take your time and make it plain. Write your ideas down if you have to.
Because when its all said and done, what matters most is that you take action, or things will never change.