“You have the rest of your life to work.”
“You have the rest of your life to work.” That’s what my dad told me when I was coming out of college. Seeing that my dad didn’t come from a well off family and even after decades of hard work, still not very well off either, I was surprised to hear him say that. As someone who never finished high school, he knows the value of hard work and most importantly not white collar work. The words seem to be from someone who had worked all his life and couldn’t see the end of it. Something that he didn’t want for his only daughter.
I always thought he wanted me to get a job out of college and make money and start contributing to society. He’d ask me, “You don’t want to do more school?” I’d look at him with a painful look because school is taxing in its own sense. Too many late nights at the library and sitting in class confused at what the professor was saying. I don’t think I could do another year of it or another four. I needed a break and venture into the real world. Right?
I’m about to start week four of my first full time job. I interned last summer, so I knew what to expect — kind of, but it’s still so different. There’s something different about knowing this is a permanent thing for the rest of my life. My life has become a routine. Not to say that in college it wasn’t, but it felt less so like that. There was something about seeing different people everyday and doing slight variation of things. Now I wake up at 6:30, start work at 8, and don’t get home until 6:30 pm. Right back where I started.
The office life is what you think it would be: cubicles. Personally, I feel isolated from everybody else, so I don’t really like the traditional layout. Maybe it’s this that makes work seem more like work. There are endless spreadsheets. Some of which don’t make sense with all of these complicated formulas and hidden sheets and deleted name ranges. Work is like a year long group project with people except your grade comes in the form of a bonus and performance review. Aren’t the stakes a bit higher than grades on a transcript? Good grades equal a better chance at a good job or graduate program. Good performance reviews and bonuses equal a better chance at moving up or leaving to another job and more money of course. It looks pretty similar to me, so aren’t we basically working our whole lives? We just give education a different name.
Some days go by quicker than others and even too quickly because I need more time to do what I need to do. But, other days it seems like it’s slower. Mondays are rough. We all know this. It’s when everything starts rolling again and the emails start pouring in. People want answers and you have to deliver. It’s Mondays that make me think, “Can it be Friday already?” I know it’s bad. It’s bad because I haven’t even been at my job for a full month. It’s what people see as bad because you’re supposed to love what you do and do what you love. But, I wonder if it’s a well built lie we choose to tell ourselves. It’s easy to say that we should love our job and everything, but there are always going to be aspects that are less than desirable. Not everybody has the luxury of being able to love their job, so you have to do what you have to do to get by. I’m not saying you shouldn’t love your job, but to instill this idea into people and lead them to think that this what they need to do to be happy is flawed.
I wonder if we just find it hard to be happy. I have more money in my bank account than ever before, but I don’t quite feel any different. Sure, I feel like I’m buying more things and have the luxury to try new restaurants. But, it also kind of pains me because I’m also spending money kind of frivolously. More money, more problems.
I feel like we’re so desperate to escape this endless cycle of work, play, work, but we’re still stuck in it at the end of the day. We’re always looking forward to something that everything in life passes us by. I can’t believe it’s already the start of my fourth week because it feels like I just started work yesterday. I was busy dreaming about the future. I was thinking about my life in a new city when I was three months away from graduation. I was thinking about all the things I had to do next, what I had to do at work, and imagining what my team would be like before it even happened. In my mind, I was ready to devote my life to a corporation because all I ever knew was school, so I may have looked to the future too soon.
Sometimes when I sit in my cubicle and have some down time, I do think about the fact that I do have the rest of my life to work. This is going to be my life for the next forty some years, unless I miraculously find something else… But, I think the corporate world will be how I sustain myself. Thinking that the majority of my life will be like this is a little unsettling, but I don’t know anything else. I’m not gifted enough to use my talents to sing, dance, or create professionally, so I crunch numbers and create PowerPoint presentations. I don’t want to be 40 and look back one day and think that life passed by like that. Don’t get me wrong I know I have a good gig and it might sound like I hate it, but I don’t. Believe me when I say it’s interesting stuff. I’m learning a ton and growing as a person professionally and personally, but I want more. What that more is I don’t know.
The rest of my life seems like a long time now that I’m sitting here in front of a computer screen. I wonder if I’m going to be stuck with the same thoughts twenty years from now. I wonder if you’re reading this and thinking I’m an entitled millennial. Let’s get this straight it’s not a quarter life crisis. It’s just me thinking about what my life has turned into. I’m not sure what I thought the real world was going to be like, but there is always a disconnect between reality and expectations.
It’s not all rosy just because a bigger paycheck is coming in. I just wonder if it’s always going to feel like I’m missing something. I wonder if I’m going to feel whole. I get home and feel like doing nothing even though I should be learning and creating and writing. But, I cook dinner, scroll around the internet a bit, and before I know it it’s time to go to sleep. Sure, I’d say a part of it is a lack in motivation and most of all discipline. I don’t know if my brain can be on all the time though. I hope the life isn’t sucked out of me.
My whole life will consist of work and I accept that for what it is. Maybe I should’ve considered more school, but you have to graduate at some point. This may be work, but after all is done I’m getting a degree in life.