I am a self-proclaimed workaholic; whether graduate school or employment, I can’t step away from the job. Ever. There is no such this as going home from the office—I telecommute two days a week, and carry my work laptop and work on the train the three days I commute in to the city. Even if I were to try to step away from the laptop, with smartphone in hand I am always reachable, always accessible, and can’t seem to find a way to say no. I am not going to do this right now.
This is not a problem relegated to me or my personality type, but it is something that is inherent in the nature of the way we expect employment to work in the USA. You have a job. Be grateful. Put your head down and do everything required. For any ‘developed” or “industrial” nation, among the nations we consider our peers, we have a shockingly bad use of our vacation time, which is also drastically limited in comparison to other “peer” nations. We are behind in terms of our general benefits, what we expect in terms of health and wellness. In our fear to keep up, to have enough, to combat rising costs of living and to have enough to retire—if we ever get to retire, that is. Cycles of debt and purchase and earning and striving all seem to eat away at the parts of life that should be important, but there also seems to be no way to break the cycle.
But what happens when personal endeavors become as important as the job? When the wants that fulfill the soul become as necessary to mental well-being as the piece of mind brought by a paycheck? To be honest, I can’t tell you. I am equally stressed by the mounting pressures of work—which do bring their own joy and amazing experiences, and feeling like the goals I have set for myself for this year—to read more, to write more, spend more time outside and finding something meaningful to fight for—are slowly being pushed aside.
At the moment, all I can do is make time to write for here, to stay on top of it and stay involved, and tell myself that one train-ride a week is dedicated to me and my book. Eventually, I have to learn to put the phone down, put down the laptop. But until then, balancing the needs of daily life with the needs of my inner self will continue to be a challenge.