Tell someone that you are on vacation and they get jealous. Tell them that you got laid off and they feel empathetic. Tell them that you are starting a new job and they are hopeful. Tell them that you are taking some time off and they tend to either write you off as lazy or applaud you for knowing your limits. I have worked a lot over the past 5 years, routinely juggling 2-3 jobs, bringing in massive amounts of paid and unpaid overtime, and continuously living on the edge of burnout. One of the hardest things that I have done since graduating college was taking the past 9 days off.
I am a workaholic, I embrace that. It is no surprise that after quitting my 3rd job last summer I jumped into comedy with both feet and almost treat it like another part time job. I like being busy and having structure to my life, and work provides that. My life is a demonstration of inertia, when I am in motion nothing can stop me, but the minute I stop then it all goes to shit. I am also very focused on my financial goals (code for greedy) and since I don’t mind working to meet or exceed those goals. For a long time I really didn’t have much going on in my life so if I could work an extra shift, or a side job then I would be a waste of space, so why not put in the time and bank the cash. This lead me to working 1000 hours of paid overtime in my first 3 years as a pharmacist, and spending a huge amount of time exceeding my scheduled hours or working from home on things for the LTC Pharmacy.
I will admit that having those first few days off were a huge blessing. I was able to sleep a bit and get out to do some comedy and then take care of things on my to do list. After about 5 days I actually cleared off most of the things that I had planned to do over the entire 2 weeks. I suppose that being being goal oriented and productive can be a double edged sword. I may have a bit of PTSD and am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. When I decided to head to Albany a day early to just hang out and all my friends were busy I found that I resented them for having other things going on, which isn’t fair to anybody. I guess that I should have come up with a better plan for this time instead of trying to play it by ear.
One of the hardest things about having free time is confronting the things that you have been putting off. There are always things in our lives that we don’t like or that are too hard to deal with at the time and it is easy to put them on the back burner and forget about them. I found long ago that the worst part about asking tough questions is getting tough answers. We spend most of our lives thinking that we are too busy to confront the things that we don’t like about ourselves. When that business excuse is pried away it is a pretty harsh awakening and all of a sudden other excuses start to pop up. I have been trying to whack a mole those excuses down so that I can get some tangible benefit out of this time, except for cooking up a freezer full of future meals and depleting my whiskey collection I haven’t had much success.
I have made some progress while trying to find some peace and getting in touch with myself. I am not a very emotional person, but I have been trying to get into my own head and heart to find out what things matter to me and why. This afternoon I parked outside the condemned wreck of 100 Holland Ave, the house that I lived in for 4 years during college. Holland Ave will always be a very important place for me because it was the setting for several years that helped to form me into the person that I am today. While sitting there in the sunlight on this beautiful day I was hit with a profound sadness for a time that I miss that will never happen again. Instead of brushing it off like I normally would I took a moment to embrace the sadness and really feel it, and it was a pretty awesome event. After a few minutes I was able to rationalize that I wasn’t sad that these times didn’t last, or for a house that is falling apart, but for the relationships that place symbolizes. I was sad for all the friends that I have grown apart from, or those that have passed away, or those who I don’t see often enough. I was sad for the naivety of the person who I used to be, and for the dreams of who I would become that haven’t come to fruition, and for all the mistakes that I have made along the way. I was nostalgic for a simpler time that was never as simple as I remember it to be, and I was sad that it took me so long to really feel things so vividly. It was a pretty amazing moment that I don’t know I would have embraced the same way if I was rushing back home to get my life in order before having to work tomorrow.
Even though I am going back to work in a week or so I feel different that I have in quite a while. There is no master plan, there is no ultimate goal, I am at a career crossroads where I can either embrace the retail lifestyle or use this job as a stopgap until I strive to find something else above and beyond. I am taking my 6th job in 5 years (technically the same as my 3rd job, but it feels distinctly different), and I have nothing to fall back on. I have a lot to think about in the future and a lot of things to question over the next year or two. Even though I have no clear course I don’t feel rudderless or lost, I simply feel that I am biding time to make the right choices. I feel that I am dictated not by one factor, but have a number of things that I need to take into consideration. I do miss the simplicity of being motivated solely by greed or compulsive workaholism, but it is nice having other things play a role in whatever decisions I make. It is also nice to see things as temporary, every job I took I told myself that I would be in that job for the rest of my career, but after 5 jobs I realize that you need to find something that works for you now and just take things as they come.
Life is about self growth and trying to be better tomorrow than you are today, or at least that is the lie I tell to people in my online dating profile. Making enough little changes can add up to a series of big changes that can alter the course of your life. I find that I keep hacking away at any goal I can get there. While this time off has been tough it has presented me with several goals that I want to address and things I want to change, if not now then eventually. I am going to spend the next few days making positive changes to my life and setting myself up for success in the future. I may not be able to be my normal efficient self, but maybe I can take some time and embrace that things that provide the most benefit in my life. I suppose that there are worse things than having too much time on my hands.