That was my superlative senior year of high school. Not the typical “Best Dressed” (awarded to my very fashionable and closest friend, Heather) or “Beauty and Brains” (this one went to Aaron actually. What a stud!). Nope, I received “Most Involved in Work”. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed and it causing sort of an upset amongst the other students at the very top of my class. When I asked around, wondering how this could have possibly happened, my friends all said the same thing: “You’re always at work. You work all the time.”
This is kind of the story of my life. Back in high school they were referring to me working at a local ice cream shop after school and on the weekends. And when I wasn’t there, I was tutoring as part of National Honor Society, or heading up the prom committee (oh yes, I was that girl), or starting an environmental/humanitarian group (we called it G.O.Y.A. – short for Get Off Your Ass, or Go Offer Your Assistance when teachers asked), or going up against the school board because unweighted GPAs weren’t fair (I stand by this), or I was doing regular old homework. Don’t get me wrong -I socialized as well, but I guess I worked a lot in comparison to my friends. I actually can’t think of a single one who had a job, outside of babysitting (I did that too!), during the school year. So yeah, I suppose I earned the “Most Involved in Work” title.
The work has obviously taken different forms over the years, but there’s one common thread that I’ve been noticing in my self-reflection recently: you can put me in any pot and I’ll grow. My struggles aren’t with a lack of discipline or hard work. Where I struggle is a combination of not having a focus for what I want to do, and getting caught up in things I think I should do. I worked hard in high school to get into the accelerated classes so I could get into the AP classes so I could get into a good college so I could get a good internship so I could get a good job…where I worked hard so I could get a promotion so I could get another promotion so I could get a better job so I could make more money so I could??? Exactly. So I could do what?
I am exhausted just writing that. Although yes, making a decent salary is important, I learned very quickly a few years ago that this in itself absolutely will not translate into happiness (see my about page for more).
All of this is to say that I want to be happier, to have more fun, to relax without all of these mostly self-imposed to-dos cluttering my thoughts. I made a bunch of life changes almost two years ago when I moved back to Boston (more here and here), but slowly, over the last six months in particular, I have lost focus on making the things I enjoy and that challenge me in a good way my priority. I’ve been working as an SEO freelancer for about a year and a half now, but it’s like I forgot that I can say no to projects I either don’t have time for or just flat out don’t want to do. I have to be okay with the risk that’s involved with doing this, but it’s my choice whether I take on the work.
I so often forget that how I spend my days is a series of choices. I can be passive about these choices and let other people/clients/the weather/etc dictate how I spend my time, or I can be active and do what I want to do.
Do you ever find yourself in a similar mental space?
More thoughts on this soon…