What a journey into the real world of a 9-5 job!
I am the first to admit that my last two jobs were, in fact, ‘work from home’, in the sense that I did travel- but my home base was my home office, and all of my supplies were haphazardly placed in my garage. My coffee pot was 17 steps away, I didn’t have to share a bathroom, and I sometimes worked in my PJs. I did have mandatory requirements, of course- meetings, events, travel, etc… but for the most part- my schedule was of my own making. Those days are gone, and now I have a strict routine of morning rituals, job requirements, and home responsibilities.
Today marks the beginning of my 4th week back in the hustle and grind of corporate America, and I sit here reflecting on what I gave up to be a part of the rat race to upper mobility.
I am not saying I am buying into the concept of ‘quiet quitting’; I am working within the guidelines spelled out for me in my duty description. Nothing more, but most definitely nothing less. The freedom of staying within my own lane has made me effective at my job. Nothing is too small for me to do. Does the paper need refilling in the printer? I am on it! Need help finding the conference room? Let me walk with you, so you don’t get lost. A phone call on the most random things that really should be googled? I have time; let me help you out. And at the end of the day- no, I am not changing the world magnificently; but I am pleasant, helpful, and not outraged by the most minor requests.
Once upon a time, just a few months ago- I was stressed. Fifteen post-it notes of ’emergencies’ crowded my computer screen. Crazy emails saying, ‘I need this report done yesterday,’ were red-flagged until I couldn’t see anything but red flags. If there was a day on my calendar not filled from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm- I was not doing enough for my job. I would wait for hours, send reminder emails, texts, pigeons, and smoke clouds for answers to questions I had- only to find out my boss had taken PTO and not sent out any notification. I would send out nasty emails, justified in the idea I am a blunt person, but in reality, because I was so tired, I was taking it out on my co-workers. My acid reflux felt like a coal fire burning in my stomach, and I was double dipping my medication, trying to tame the flames. I started medication to make me happier, help me fall asleep, take away the migraines, and help with bloating. I had a bottle of Advil in my purse, on the nightstand, in a desk drawer, in my glove box, and to-go packs in my pockets.
I was a mess pretending to be happy with what I was doing! But, as I found out, no amount of medication can fake a content life. Gone are the days when I believed I needed to work a full-time job plus an extra 4 hours to make up for the fact that I worked from home. Gone are the days of trying to figure out how to work my self-imposed 12-hour schedule and still maintain my home as if I was a full-time housewife.
Granted- my house is a lot messier, and I have a pile of laundry waiting for me to start this weekend, but everyone has enough clean underwear to last until Sunday, so I am not inclined to stress. I am also not sure what to think about this concept called a weekend. It is another two days of working for me. For example, a typical weekend now involves me trying to fit in quality family time, house chores, grocery shopping, laundry, lawn work, AND some time for myself. That is what I miss the most- alone time. Time to think, write, and be without having to entertain or do for others. When do people fit that in? I am sure I will figure it out soon- so I am not too worried.
But what really bothers me, what I want to say to the world, is a small lesson that took me 24 years to learn.
It is not all on fire.
I promise you- it will not all burn down tonight if you leave it for tomorrow to get done. I am not saying to be a procrastinator, but nothing should be done half-ass so you can accomplish more. It makes for more work tomorrow. Late hours do not equal better relationships or promotions. Stress does not help you lose weight or maintain a youthful look.
To those preaching that going above and beyond is the foundation of America, let me remind you that was on the backs of men and women working 12-hour days, 7 days a week, for less than the poverty level. The wealthy didn’t do the hard labor. They didn’t work in coal mines, on the railroads, loading cargo, or licking harmful chemicals to make matches or glow-in-the-dark watches. So stop trying to be them; they are not really ‘good people.’
What I have found to be my peace is that I am willing to come to work with a good attitude, drinking a 20 oz. coffee, sitting at my desk, and doing my job effectively. I might even turn on a little background music and hum along. I will leave at 3:30pm on the dot because that is the end of my 8-hour shift, blast the music in my car, and drive the 35 minutes home prepared to make dinner and think about washing laundry.
Corporate America, the land of upward mobility, I think the concept is a dead dream. Or maybe it’s because I am getting old? Perhaps the rat race is only run by the 20 and 30-year-olds, and the rest of us are watching from the cheap seats laughing?
Maybe this is what it is like to finally grow up? Did I finally make it? Is this what it is like to climb the mountain of self-assurance and awareness? It’s a beautiful view! Feel free to join me; I brought extra coffee!
And above all my friends- Remember to be Great at something you are Good at!