For the last year, I have existed in the mindset that I could make my life whatever I wanted. I could work when I wanted and not when I didn’t. I could go to yoga at noon or fly home for a weekend on a whim.
Because I had the freedom to choose not to work, I got so that the idea of having to work was almost offensive.
But it’s my life!
I do what I want!
Work is the opposite of freedom and writing and creativity!
There were a lot of great times, don’t get me wrong. But it was almost too much freedom. I started thinking I had the power to create a perfect situation for myself. I had these visions that I would work for a month, write for a month, and so on until my bank account was stacked and my lifestyle blog was making me famous. (jokes!)
The reality of my search for this perfect, adversity-free life was that I swung violently between extremes. From working 14-hour days where I cursed my job and wished for unemployment to 14-hour days being home on the couch with just my laptop for company. The first situation had me panicked that I had no time to write, the second brought on existential crises where each day ended in my sure conclusion that I was a terrible writer who was contributing nothing to the world.
The most painful part is that I now have a mirror in the form of a husband, who ever-so-lovingly would point out that no, I was not happier when I was working (or not working.)
The reality seemed to be that I found the bad in whatever situation I was currently in.
(These are painful things to admit)
All the madness was coming to a boiling point, when I heard about a full time job in a role that was not quite like my other job but related. And it sounded like something I would enjoy and possibly be good at, so I took it.
Part of me took it because I knew it was time to be working again. The other part took it because it had the illusion of a fresh start, which means total and perfect happiness right??
I started last Monday. And guess what?
It is not a perfect job.
It’s quite uncomfortable to be the new person.
It’s awkward and intimidating to be a rookie again.
It is much harder to get to yoga when you have 9 less hours in your day.
But this is life. Life is work.
It’s discomfort and inconvenience, that if properly applied, makes you smarter or more capable or at least a bit more empathetic.
I am re-learning a lesson I have learned over and over, which is that happiness takes work. If we don’t know how to work, how do we then be happy?
Maybe I am unique in my pessimism. Maybe not everyone has to work at happiness. But for me it takes a lot of work.
It takes practicing gratitude.
Remembering how lucky I am to be able to support myself.
Appreciating the regular paycheck.
Feeling the validation of being needed somewhere.
It takes resistance to FOMO.
Constant reality checks that yes, it’s too bad you aren’t rich from some thing you did on Instagram but also that person probably works very hard and their life is still not perfect.
It takes waking up at 6 AM when I used to sleep til 8.
(I repeat, these are embarrassing things to admit)
I don’t know how at age 26 I am still having to re-learn that there is no magic formula for happiness. It just would be so much easier if there was, wouldn’t it?
But I am re-learning it again, and hopefully this time it will stick a little more than last time.
There are so many different paths my life could take. Every one of them might be wonderful, but none of them is perfect.
And so for now, I am picking one and deciding to be happy with it.
I will wake up at 6 (ish) AM and write with whatever half-awake energy I have.
I will not complain about my stable, wonderful new job.
I will work at being happy where I am.
I will need you to hold me to it.