better than a paycheck

I had a mini, minor freak-out yesterday, thinking about having a job and not being good enough immediately, and having to be an expert within the space of two weeks, and wondering what I had gotten myself into, going from making my own schedule to being on someone else’s schedule for 40+ hours a week. Commuting, feeding myself on the go, dealing with the rest of my life around the edges of a job. All the standard adult stuff that I had opted out of, for such a long time. The stuff that is surprisingly difficult to opt back into, all the standard grown-up responsibilities that I now have to shoulder up and move on out with, briskly and gracefully, avoiding the land mines and hoping, naively, to kick some enemy butt.

It’s what I did for all the years outside of college, and it’s what pretty much every adult does every day of her life. It’s why most lifestyle magazines exist, right–everyone’s looking for tips on how to juggle their busy schedule, slot in work and life responsibilities, doing a kick-ass job and taking names, feeding yourself healthfully and nutritionally, exercising, maintaining your personal relationships, finding time for hobbies and personal enrichment, relaxing, sleeping, and not going a little bit crazy. I was never very good at it–I was one of those perpetually guilty-feeling people who always ended up letting things slide. Fast food, skipping the gym, slumping on the couch and staring at the television for an hour before bed instead of doing something rewarding and goal-oriented. The easiest thing, and sometimes the only thing, was to accomplish the bare minimum–the eating, the sleeping, the working–and let everything slide.

I don’t want to let everything slide. I am experiencing that same urge
everyone has, to be perfect, well-rounded, looking at those magazines,
and hoping those tips for fast dinners in thirty seconds, and how to
make time in your busy schedule for ivory carving, and how to
reconnect with the love in your life actually work. It’s just a few
days in, and I still have hope that I can make it happen. That I can
rise early enough to exercise, make a nutritious breakfast, work
productively on the train, impress everyone in the office, eat a
healthy meal I packed for lunch, impress everyone some more, work
productively on the train home, and then make a nutritious dinner. And
fill my evening with house cleaning, and saving babies from fires, and
having meaningful conversations, and satisfying sex, and writing major
opuses, and then falling into bed at a reasonable hour, and drifting
right off to restorative sleep.

I think it will be good for me, this job. Building a relationship with
nice people who will give me more work down the road, a bit of security
in a scary economic climate, a bank account that will see me through
possible, unplanned destitution. Meeting people, all of whom I already
like so much. And especially, a second opportunity to try and do as
best I can to make a routine happy, to stay busy and happy and
satisfied as much as possible. To not give up and be rushed and harried
and counting down the days until I escape again.

I think as I figure
this out, as I establish routines and habits and order and, dare I say
it, even the tiniest bit of discipline, that it will be something that
stays with me when I shift back down to a freelance life where I am
entirely responsible for all my hours. Maybe I’ll return with a new
respect for the importance of my own projects and life, a new
appreciation for my time and a reluctance to spend so much of it doing
unimportant things. I am sure that as soon as I can sleep in again, if
I want to, I will seize that opportunity and ride it all the way down
the rails. I’m not, you know, stupid. But I think I’m going to come out
of this less likely to do that every day, less willing to let things
slide, smarter about a lot of things, and with an established routine
and good habits and maybe some new buddies. Definitely general,
all-around awesomeness. It’s nearly as good as a paycheck.

One Reply to “better than a paycheck”

  1. The more I have to do, the better I juggle it all (well, sometimes. This isn’t a hard and fast rule).

    I have spent much time when I have an overbundance of freedom doing absolutely nothing, but when I am suddenly hit with a busy schedule, I can really get into a good juggling mode.

    I bet you’ll be able to get into a routine in which you get everything done that you want, but make sure you allow for some guilt-free down time too. When I am feeling proud about all the productive things I doing in my life, that’s when I most enjoy some slothful couch time with my man and the remote.

    I may be capable of juggling a lot when life demands it, but at the end of the day nobody does slothful as well as I do.

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