Monday, June 6, 2011

It will be OK. Really!

For about a month now, I’ve officially been a part of the 9-to-5 work crowd. Having been opposed to such a lifestyle for much of my adult life, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. After all, I’m Jessica, the one who lives on permanent vacation. Yes, I work- hard, actually, since I was 16- but I’ve managed to do so at my convenience for the most part. While I was grateful to land full-time employment so quickly, I was apprehensive.

I love it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s demanding and mentally taxing and some days I just want to work on my other projects or have a “me” day. It has been an adjustment figuring out when to do all the things that I used to have time for. But the company I’m working for is a good one. They treat their employees well. They’re fair. They actually give a shit about the people who work for them, something I have never experienced in the workforce before. I won’t ever call the company by name in this blog because it’s public, but so far I have a great respect for the way they do things.

 And every single time I even think of complaining about something, I can’t because I am just so grateful to have a steady job right now in this transitionary phase of my life. In a time where so many are unemployed and terrified (and I, too, have been underemployed and terrified), I’m working and that’s amazing.

A steady paycheck is also something foreign to me. Over the last decade I’ve had periods where I’ve had more money than most people my age and periods where I’ve had a lot less… within months of each other. It was just a way of life. And forget about things like sick days, inclusive health coverage and vacation time. And while I am an entrepreneur at heart and eventually desire to return to that scary but rewarding way of life, I have to admit it’s damn nice knowing what my paychecks will be and having a bit of security.

I absolutely loved being self-employed. No, I didn’t get the benefits employees get. Yes, my parents have ulcers from trying to explain to people what it is I do and wondering if this will be the month I finally call them crying because I need money (never happened, by the way). Yes, it’s a giant scary headache and you have to work ten times as hard for sometimes half the money and nothing is guaranteed. But it’s not about security. It’s about the adventure. It’s about being able to, within reason, create your own schedule and live your own life.

But here’s a secret: all that time, I thought of myself as a total screw up in my professional life. I had friends who made their way up the corporate ladder before I’d even graduated college, who earned awards and had prestigious titles while I was serving drinks and selling credit card terminals and writing articles in my pajamas at noon on Tuesdays. Some of them admitted they envied me, but I always felt like I didn’t measure up. I enjoyed the hell out of it, but I always felt guilty. Who was I to think I shouldn’t have to get up at 6 am and begin a day I dreaded? Why couldn’t I just suck it up and give my poor parents something to brag about already?

It finally hit me a few days ago that I never should have allowed myself to feel that guilt. Not even once. Because now I see what I was doing exactly what I was meant to do at the right time for me. Everything ended up being OK in the long run and I got that 9 to 5 job when I was good and ready. And when the day comes to leave it again, I should have no guilt either. I’m on the right track. I finally get it now.

On Thursday afternoon at the office, a young woman made her way around the cubicles telling everyone goodbye. She was off on a month-long trip to New York and Europe. My fellow copywriters expressed their jealousy. And these sweet 24 year old girls (yes, everyone in my department is younger than me, and this isn’t even an entry level job which means they’re younger than me with experience) traded stories of how jealous they are. They spoke of how none of them have had a real vacation in years, if ever. They haven’t traveled. They went to school and went straight to work like society dictated to them.

And it hit me that I am So. Damn. Lucky. Instead of joining in their conversation, I closed my eyes and I pictured the glorious decade that was my twenties. The initial trip to New York when Mr. W and I were still a new couple and the incredible trip that followed in 2009. The journeys to Mexico. Vegas…. God, all the Vegas. The road trip. And every single thing in between that I’d only been able to do because I hadn’t followed society’s norms. All that and I ended up in the same seat they’re in, a little older with a few more wrinkles and hard lessons, but the same seat nonetheless.

I certainly wouldn’t advise just anyone to follow my path. It’s reckless, irresponsible and sometimes downright insane. Some of the reasons I always ended up OK were sheer luck and things could’ve gone a lot worse for me. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything, even the corner office on the top floor of our building and a salary ten times the size of mine. Had I not gone that route, I would’ve missed so much and been complaining with my fellow copywriters about all the trips I haven’t taken. And traveling is such an essential part of who I am, I can’t imagine how miserable an unfulfilled I’d be.

I wish I could go back and tell myself to just relax, to erase the guilt from my mind and stop the voices in my head that told me I didn’t deserve it. I wish I knew then that everything would and will be OK in the end. I certainly know it now.

No matter where you are in life, embrace it. Don’t listen to anyone else’s opinions and follow your own path. Trust me on that. It will be OK.


VINTAGE HOME lifestyle said...

What a beautiful inspiring post...I needed that today.
Thank you!

MOM said...

You will be okay for sure! You have follow your heart and it will help you find your way each and every time. I'm sooooo glad you're happy and remember each and every experience is how you became wonderful YOU! Love ya!

Anonymous said...

Well-written, well-said! I loved this. How we lead such different lives! :)

JD said...

So true! Love this, Jess. It's a great reminder for anyone at any stage of life. Whenever people give me a screwy look when I answered the second-most-hated-question ("when/baby?" being first), "what do you do for a living", I always laugh because yeah, I've made some fairly, shall we say, irregular career choices along the way, but that's fine. I always say, "this is what I'm doing right now. I may do it another five minutes or for the rest of my life, whatever I feel like." And that's really key - whatever YOU feel like.
Also, you're far better than okay - always.

Peabea said...

In all my years, it has seemed that things always do fall into place. I've never regretted that I married at 17 and traveled with a young musician husband. He's akin to you as he travels out of the norm. He now sometimes says that he wishes he'd done things different, and I always tell him that he enjoyed life much more than me maybe because I was the worrier, but as you say..I wish I'd enjoyed more and quit worrying. I'm so happy for you and glad you're in a good spot although you always have been. And as for the parents, I bet they always were very proud and bragged about whatever you were doing, they'd have to be to have had such a great daughter. ~big hugs~ and I'm sure with you, you'll be doing the 9 to 5 your own way.

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