There’s a lot to be said for working 40-hours a week.
You get in this habit, this routine of perpetual exhaustion, and much of your effort at the end of your day involves surviving through traffic, getting home, throwing in a frozen pizza, showering (if you even have enough energy for that), and using your few hours to yourself, most likely laying in bed with said frozen pizza in your lap, just waiting till you have to fall asleep, wake up, and go to work all over again.
I know that was a long stream of depressing thought, but I’ve found myself at a bit of a loss here. I’m a future thinker, which probably gives me way more anxiety than I deserve, but it’s what I do.
Work has definitely gotten better: I’m used to waking up at 6:30am, I’m used to being gone for ten hours a day, I’m used to getting home and feeling like my eyes are going to fall out, but I’m…worried.
I’m worried about what happens when I finally get fully settled – you know?
What happens when you’re so used to your routine that you can finally squeeze in a couple of sit ups between yawns…when you finally can get yourself to cook once a week, when you’re finally…well, a full-fledged adult destined to stay in this perfect stable niche of working for the next 40-something years?
That is what scares me. Right now I’m still in a transition period. My waking-up-in-slight-panic an hour before having to get up for work is still justified. My nights where I just lay in bed with that pizza are still justified. My stiffness, my irritability, and frustration, are still justified. Mind you, I’m starting to like the content of my job itself more and more each day, as I feel more confident with practice and encouragement, but that’s not the point.
The point is…is this it?
Is this what I spent 15+ years becoming educated to do with my life? To work so constantly that I live more hours in a corporate building than in my own home?
My future-oriented mind is the one questioning, I know. I’m sure a few people who have been working for 40-hours a week for years reading this are already rolling their eyes thinking “get used to it, kid.” But the point of me expressing my thoughts here is to relate to others in my situation — the fresh-out-of-college 20-somethings that are still trying to figure out how the fuck adulthood works, and the future-oriented introspective introverts who find themselves so sapped of their life because they don’t have enough hours in the day anymore.
One day, I’ll be comfortable.
I’ll have my own apartment near my job, with my affordable furniture, and my discounted silverware because I’m still too cheap to spend +$100 on pieces of metal, my rescue cat who sits on my lap in place of my frozen pizza, and my halfway decent 41” screen TV I sit in front of for 90% of the time I’m home. I’ll live alone to give myself more room to think, except I still won’t do the kind of thinking I want to do. I’ll try to color coordinate and design every room, but settle for one good design scheme and go for it, I’ll clean house once a week, but still be annoyed with myself when the sink is filled with the dishes I’m too tired to clean, and then, the months pass in the time the days do, and I’m living.
Living the life that I laid in front of me – I wanted to be educated to get a job and expand my intelligence, which I did, but now I want to move out, and get a cat, and feel independent and strong in my aloneness – I’m working toward what I’ve chosen – to what society says is a decent path for young, educated adults who are forwarding their careers and their self-purpose.
But does being settled and comfortable equate to purpose? I’m not sure.
I find myself feeling most purposeful listening to cinematic, empowering music as I drive to work because it makes me feel as if my very existence is earth-shattering. I’m not just going to save a cat from a tree, I’m going to save all the cats and the trees in the world.
And I’m going to beat the shit out of the people who try to throw cats in trees, or who try to cut the trees down.
I guess that’s why I love my stories so much – tv shows, movies, and video games…because in those mediums, there’s always a grand purpose to be working towards. There’s development and strife and hardship and enlightenment and sorrow and joy and change. There’s always change within these stories. This shifting of scenes and words that define the meaning in all previous actions taken – and then the story completes. It’s whole, it’s full.
But me? I’m just some girl.
In the real world, our stories never seem to be full. We may have strife and hardship, but are expected to conquer it in a painfully non-poetic way that can often feel quite meaningless, because we are still expected to function – and the mere definition of functioning lacks much meaning. There is hope that ‘functioning’ for years will eventually lead to a break through of self-discovery and purpose, and for some people it does. Some people find it after years and years of comfortable nothingness – they may find it in another person, or their children, their career, or their own business they decide to start because they’re so tired of following someone else’s orders for how to be successful in life.
I hope to be that someone someday – I hope to find that break through. But for now, I find myself…transitioning. My first, youthful instinct is to be scared, to be quite terrified, of this vision of adulthood that promises constant work as normalcy. But that’s life – you have to work at it? It’s all about working. Working at work. Working at home. Working on yourself. Working with others.
But please, is it okay for me to hope that this work will help me grow rather than beat me into the soil, making me unable to sprout beyond the pre-constructed “growth” height that I’m expected to stay at for said 10 more years?
I suppose this new walk of life is just a test of my will, because really, at the end of the day, sleep seems like the most blissful option. But no, through my exhaustion and my worry, I have forced myself to go out: see people, do things, get back to the gym, buy a couple interesting trinkets with my fancy corporate salary, sign up for a 401K plan, all the good things.
I find myself baffled, knowing that people work, have kids, and go to school – that’s like triple full-time, and I’m out of breath with just one of those things.
From what I’ve found, you have to fight through the fatigue and mental burnout to try to do anything for yourself. I’ll admit, it’s hard for me to even want to do things on weekends, because I just want to recharge, all while beating myself up because I’m not working hard enough to improve myself for myself. Most of the time, I’m just having dreams about fucking up at my new job.
Sometimes, I think it’s just easier to think that the world is conspiring against you, working to exhaust you just enough that you give it all up and fall in line with everyone else.
But as I’ve heard from many people, if you care about something enough, you’ll work for it, you’ll make time for it, sunken in, bloodshot eyes and minimal attention span aside, if you care you’ll make it work. But the days pass…and you hold onto that rope of caring so tightly, and feel your hands singe and burn as you begin to slip — if you love it enough, you won’t let go, right? You won’t let the tiredness prevent you from singing or writing, will you?
I desire comfort yet I’m afraid I’ll become too comfortable. Just as I’m afraid that when I’m “settled” in to my new phase in life, that I’ll just find myself saying “Now what?”
Is the rest of my existence just work, an occasional drink with some friends, video games, and sleep? Is it forced family parties and weddings and meaningless small talk? I’m so used to working toward some outstanding goal (*cough* getting my bachelor’s degree), that this whole “free reign” thing is kind of throwing me for a loop.
I know that my work is all about helping people, which in itself is both exhausting and revitalizing, but I’m still quite terrified of what’s to come in this state of my life. I’m an amateur adult. I don’t know how it works. I don’t know what normal “adult life” looks like, or if I’m even doing it “right”. And I definitely don’t find the idea of “save money for 20+ years, move somewhere fancy, then save more..uh money…yeah money, adults want money, you got educated to get money, mostly” all that appealing. Don’t get me wrong, I like money, but it doesn’t always make me feel meaningful. But why does nobody really talk about this? Because we all experience it and we may as well not ‘complain’? God forbid you take note of your first taste of what the rest of your life can look like, right?
Maybe I just crave dysfunction — maybe I want to quit my day job already and go save cats from trees, and trees from people. But alas, here I am, still chipping away at the 40-something years I’ll have to be employed till I’m too old to work, and then too tired to use the money I saved for anything remotely exciting.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve made new friends at work, I’ve definitely learned a lot, and things are getting “better” as I continue forward, but documenting this experience and thinking of the future I believe is important for not only myself, but for other young adults going through my same transition.
I have many friends that just graduated alongside me that feel very similar — they’re exhausted, stressed, and taking a while to adjust just like me.
“You’re young, you’ll get over it, everyone does this, people do more than you, why are you complaining? You’re making money, so why does it matter?”
I’m sure there’s many people who would think those questions as they read this – and the thing is, it’s not about me sitting here “complaining” about my transition. It’s about explaining the impact this type of transition has on my life as a young adult, and how hard it is, which it’s rightfully so. But I’m doing it – I’m being as successful as I can be, and performing well within my new job. My music keeps me alive, my weekends are my savior, and when I can, I write.
If I can muster the energy, I do what I love, but right now, I’m just very, very, tired.
I just hope I won’t be tired for the rest of my life.
Going through some changes in your life? Tell me about it in the comments below!
With everlasting encouragement,