Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 days || four: moving beyond work.

 {photo from Simply Seleta}

Last Monday, as I drove home from work, listening to the radio, ignoring the fact that my car’s air conditioner has stopped functioning, it hit me that I had yet another headache. These happen some days, and they’re not migraines, not blinding or mysterious. They come, I know, from spending eight and a half hours staring at a computer screen, and my hope is that one day, when I’m not chained to a desk and an office, these headaches will dissipate. Until then, I get more than a little frustrated, because it feels like the best hours of my day — the ones where I’m awake and happy and productive and most alive — are spent at work. And I just don’t think that’s fair. Not fair to my home. Not fair to my marriage. Not fair to me. 

I don’t like this American idea that our work is what defines us, that the longer our days are, the better our work ethic. I don’t like that I come home tired and head-achy, that most days I want nothing more than to put on my pajamas and crawl into bed and eat pizza and read a book or watch a movie. I don’t like that I have five days I devote to other people, to deadlines and articles, to phone calls and Word documents, but I only have two days I devote to me, to my husband, to our home, to my hobbies. 

It’s exhausting, this daily 8-to-5 ritual, and I don’t feel like I’ve figured out the always-elusive balance. I can’t figure out how to have enough energy to last me from 7 in the morning until 11 at night. I don’t know how to read the books I love and clean out the closets and cook healthy meals and carry on conversations with my husband without crashing. 

I don’t know these things, but I do know this: My job is not as important as my marriage. It is not my life. My dreams and my desires are not wrapped up in what I do every day at the office. And because of that, I’ve got to move past it. I’ve got to make the time and have the energy not to do everything — because we can’t do everything — but to do something. To be more than just a shadow of myself by the time I kick off my heels and put down my purse. 

Sure, I think a night in our pajamas with takeout on the couch is pretty great. But it shouldn’t be happening every night. Life is too short for that. Life is too great for that. 

This week, I’m trying to be more awake and more present when I open my front door. I’m trying to move beyond my day job, trying to embrace and celebrate the life I lead at home. 

I’m not a fan of the five-days-on, two-days-off system we’ve got going on right now, but let’s face it: That’s probably not changing any time soon. I can’t control the system, but I can control how I respond to it. So I’m going to try to celebrate these precious hours given to me at the end of each day, because they, too, are blessing, and I’m tired of leaving them out. 


Kari said...

Are there ways to include a job in a celebratory type of life?

Megan Elizabeth said...

Kari i think so! i always just tell myself: at least its a job. no matter how much grumbling i do about it.
annie this is awesome. i'm not at work 5 days but i'm at school 3 and then work 3...so my one day is sunday. and it's gets so frustraiting sometimes. but then i have to put my big girl pants on. i love that you're celebrating the time at home...something we all need to do more! happy tuesday friend!

annie said...

@ Kari - What a great question! Working on an answer for a post for next week...

Brittany said...

Feeling the same way lately. I feel like work just suck all my energy and brainpower every day. And then I feel like I need to have lazy weekends to make up for the fast-paced work week--not always a good thing.

Loving your 31 days.

monster cakes said...

Isn't it funny how we go to school with a career driven mind, and then when we find a life with a home and a husband, we suddenly realize the career isn't what it's all supposed to be about? I struggle with all of this, too, friend, and I've been trying to take it one day and one small change at a time. I stopped beating myself up about not having the time, money, or energy to cook healthy meals every night, and instead started taking more walks with the hubs to add something positive in my life that I can make time for. Small changes + less beating myself up = a little bit more happiness in my crazy life. : )

ps. I always leave freaking novels in your comments and feel annoyed with myself every time! haha

Senja said...

I loved your post. This is so true, and I can totally relate with everything.

So glad about your 31 day challenge! :)

XO Senja

Michelle Porth said...

This is so true! I make these same complaints about the system to my husband almost every night. And sometimes I feel like if I loved my job more, it wouldn't be so bad. But then I realize that no matter what job I have-- my heart really belongs with my home and family, so I'd probably still feel this way. It's all a balancing act, right?

Anonymous said...

Let me encourage you to consider a possibility. Could you step away from the life others assume you should be leading, and follow your heart? I went from the "graduate at 19 from college and make your mark on the world" to "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life...". God will lead you on an amazing journey when your heart is at home with your husband, creating that world we all long to come home to.Thirty three years later, six amazing children, seven grandchildren, a life in Tuscany and then a fishing village in Greece. Never dull, always paycheck to paycheck--and never one regret. A wonderful life. Just consider it.

♥ CheChe said...

really engaging read girl. I too suffer the 9-5 only it is 1030am-630pm and I am usually out until 1am with friends after church services 3-4 nights of those 5 nights. Then I get a weekday and a weekend day off. I can't stand it but I do my best to push through and do the things that bring me joy and laughter despite the inevitable morning that will rear its head begging for my happiness.

My joy it will not take.

We are blessed to have jobs but I get what your saying. It shouldn't define us.


The Learned Lady said...

This post is so lovely, and I battle with the same office demons. It's harder now that I have a little daughter, too, and I long to spend every minute with her but have to be stuck at work for most of the day, most of the week, away from her and home. But you're right - until we can change the system, we've got to make the best of what we've got.

Annie said...

You've just summed up my life.

I had a meltdown last weekend, overwhelmed with holding down three jobs, trying to work out an internship, classes, and homework. I felt like everything I was doing was for the sake of either subsisting or for nearly a year from now. I was tired of sacrificing my ability to work more hours to the fact that I have to get a degree, and tired of sacrificing productive study time to the fact that if I don't work, I can't afford a place to live.

I got so upset I cried twice in eight days over little things I wouldn't ordinarily have cried over. I just felt, of any season, did both of these things have to happen now?

Besides needing to get a better time management system going, I do want to stop grudging myself the moments I have to spend studying and working and celebrate the moments during and in between that bless my heart and lift my spirits. Like now, when I should be writing a paper, but am reading blog posts, being encouraged by the wonderful things women from all over the country humbly offer up. And my only coherent thought tomorrow might be, "Latte," but for now, I am content, and thankful, and blessed. And that, I believe, is celebration.