It was beginning to be way too much. My hair was looking like “who did it and why?”, those lovely bags under my eyes had become even more emphasized and I had a to-do lists that I could never seem to conquer. I knew I had to let something go, but was I prepared to make the sacrifice for my general well-being? Was this my breaking point?
Let me rewind a few months. I had been job searching for months after being laid-off of my first job out of college. The nice and cushy salaried job with benefits, had been replaced with the scarce reality of a limited job market. My job search went through phases. There was the ‘Stay in your lane’ phase where I was striving to stay career oriented, the disappointment of this translated to the ‘F it–I’m going abroad to save the turtles!’ stage, and as time progressed and rational set in, I became a little more flexible and entered into the ‘I’ll take what I can get for now’ phase; as I planned to focus on my passion on the side. As fate would have it, I wound up getting three jobs all within the same week. Two part-time, and the other as often as I made myself available. I know it sounds crazy, but maybe Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman” was subconsciously playing in my head as I had the audacity to take on all three. Wrong move.
I don’t know what the thrill is of always being busy is for me, but this time around it wore off very fast. These were no sit at the desk and update Facebook gigs, I was teaching during the day then off to a demanding customer service job in the evening. When I wasn’t working, I was trying to get some sleep and vice versa. Missed calls, emails, and several hour gaps in response to texts became all too common. My life became a maze off sticky notes and power naps. I tried my best to map out every detail. There was the friendly “Take your keys!” reminder posted on my dry erase board and a meticulous schedule that included time slots for everything from changing clothes between jobs, returning messages, stopping for gas and that much needed time to pray my way through it all. Hair appointments were supplemented by blow outs and heavily bobby-pinned up-dos and my nails just didn’t stand a chance.
In short, I started loosing myself. Not only did I loose myself in work, I lost sight of what I was doing it all for. Despite paying the bills, my 9-5 and 5-9 made it super hard to keep up with my passion (writing) and not to mention family and friends.
While it may feel good or look good in the eyes of others to proclaim you are “going hard” or “grinding,” is it possible to to get lost in the grind? In my case, I believe I did. In the end, I had to let go of one of the jobs and in doing so I let go of so much stress. While money is indeed a lot tighter, I find it much more fulfilling to have more time to actively pursue goals that will hopefully allow me to no longer be boxed in a clock-in/clock-out existence one day.
Of course, everything is real. Bills need to be paid and being idle can be an equally unproductive state. I’m no stranger to hardwork, but at what cost? If you’re going gray in your twenties by burying yourself in a dead-end job, it may be good to step back and see how you can better balance your life; especially if you have passions/goals outside of the daily rat race. I learned that it is important to make time for the small things. For me it’s things like making sure I get my daily dose of drooly kisses from my baby nephew or having quality ‘Me+G-O-D’ time before I start my day. Also, try your best to maintain relationships with those who mean the most to you, I can’t tell you how many conversations now start off with “Dag, where you been?!” or the somewhat annoying greeting of “Hey stranger!” Be sure to treat yourself to that much needed hair appointment or trip to the nail salon or spa every so often, because chances are you deserve it.
This struggle to find balance in work and life is nothing knew, and can be especially challenging if you are a go-getter or compulsive workaholic like myself. In the economic reality of today we may be compelled to take on more than we can bear. Every opportunity may not necessarily be the right opportunity for you, and knowing your limits is key. Don’t lose sight of your goals and strive to protect your peace-of-mind. And whatever you do, don’t lose yourself in the grind.