Why I Work.
Since it’s the first day of my monthly !You’re!Not!Pregnant! 5-day nightmare, and I have cried 3 different times this morning reading cute Buzzfeed articles, I figured I needed a good ‘ole writing catharsis. I haven’t wrote in a while since my full-time work days are now 9am-8pm, Monday-Friday, and my part-time work days are two 9 hour long shifts on both Saturday and Sunday. I have a few hours to spare when I’m not working, but honestly, drinking a martini or watching SNL clips in bed sound 10x more desirable compared to writing right now.
On average, I am working 70-75 hours per week. I’ve been a psychotic workaholic since as long as I can remember. I’ve never related to the whole “Millennials are lazy, entitled assholes who do nothing and expect everything to be handed to them” comments. When I was in college I took 18 credits a semester and worked part time 16 hours a week at Comcast HQ. Since graduating college 3.5 years ago, I’ve had 3 different part-time jobs that I held all during the same time I was working another full-time job. I think it’s part of the near-perfect work ethic my father instilled into my head when I was younger. I think it’s also part of my organic Virgo nature – being a perfectionist and trying to take on as much as I can. And I think it’s also because New York City is fucking expensive and I really don’t want to swim in debt for the rest of my life.
Yet there is one more reason why I work so much that may not be as obvious to the outside spectator. The thing is, I’m not very good at relaxing. I’m constantly seeking a new challenge or adventure to take on. I’m always looking for ways to better myself whether that means going to the gym or reading another self-improvement book in Starbucks. I go grocery shopping, photographing Manhattan, or even just reorganize my entire room when I’ms stuck at home with nothing to do. I’m physically unable to take naps unless I spent the whole morning day-drinking Bloody Mary’s with my friends (alcohol is typically the only thing that puts me to sleep instantly as depressing and concerning as that sounds). I don’t like going to the movies (unless I REALLY want to see it) because I feel like I could be more productive rather than sitting/starting at a screen for 3 hours. This is a small glimpse into my anxiety, as people with anxiety have a hard time “living in the moment.” People who suffer from anxiety disorders are constantly worrying about the past and the future: something that has happened already or something that has never happened (and may never even happen). We are unable to focus and enjoy the current moment because we are too caught up on the “what ifs” and “could be’s.” As much as I have progressed with my anxiety over the past 13 years, this is still a huge struggle of mine.
But since I am someone who has suffered with anxiety for more than half my life now, I’m strongly acquainted with the factors that can either trigger or prevent my anxious mind from unleashing. Anyone who has suffered with any mental illness for that matter can understand that your mind is your own worst enemy. As much as we like to blame society, family, or friends for feeling the way we do, we are the only ones in control of our own thoughts. When we let our anxious mind control the majority of our thoughts, our perception of reality becomes more skewed and less clear each and every day.
I realized that constantly filling my days with work and things to do occupied more of my mind for less anxiety to creep in. It’s like my body needs constant stimulation for my mind to feel completely still and unbothered. Ask anyone who has suffered from an anxiety attack or depressive episode: being completely alone with your thoughts can be the most harmful and dangerous thing when you’re not mentally stable. The things we tell ourselves are often the most destructive things we will ever hear. When people are trapped with their own harmful thoughts, the consequences often require serious medical attention or possible hospitalization.
To put this all in “Millennial” terms, I’m not much of a ‘Netflix & Chill-er.’ I have a hard time concentrating during movies and TV shows, since my mind is wandering off creating a visual To-Do list of things I ‘should’ be doing. It’s not normal to have this lacking desire of relaxation and serenity – I know that, and I have known that for years. Yet thankfully I’m in a place where my physical health is stable and my mental health has been a lotttttt better than it has been in previous years. I think that’s the problem with others who suffer from mental illness: they are always seeking something that will completely rid their mind from the personal destruction, yet I have come to accept that working to minimize the struggle has been more successful than seeking to destroy it completely.
This year has been a tough one for me, and I’m sure for many others as well. My apartment was broken into in January, 6 different dates bailed on me an hour before we were supposed to meet, the 2 guys I *actually* grew to like had a girlfriend on the side that I later found out about, this is my last year of health insurance under my family’s policy and I’m petrified about affording medical insurance next year, I suffered through a relapse in the spring and ended up crying on hold with the suicide prevention hotline on a Friday night, I wasn’t able to visit my friends in Philly or LA nearly as much as I have in the past due to financial struggles, and the list goes on.
This may seem like “third world problems” for some people, and it may seem like a nightmare to others. I know I’m blessed by God in so many ways – ways that make all of this seem like over-dramatic nonsense. My dad is almost 5 years healthy and free from cancer, my boss and co-workers have been an amazing support system through every battle this year, I have not self-harmed in many ways that I have in the past years, and lastly… even though it SUCKS so bad to discover the guy that you are falling for kissing some other girl online, thank freaking GOD I am not that girl – the one who tells her friends how “faithful and loyal” her man is to her. Seriously, thank God I am not in her shoes.
When the shitty stuff happens, I turn to work. I turn to spreadsheets and numbers and PowerPoints to take my mind off the burglary, fuckboy problems, and family illnesses. It’s a way of avoiding the problem sometimes, I know that, but from the moment I started working full-time when I was 19, I said one thing to myself that has consistently stayed with me: “No matter what is going on in my personal life, I will never let it affect my work.” I am so driven, so determined, and so hungry to succeed independently in my career, that it’s something I will never choose to let go of. I believe that sometimes the only way to recover from something is to fill the mind with something else to concentrate on. A lot of people don’t get over an ex until they meet someone else. Some people can’t give up smoking unless they find something else to fill that void. I don’t think it’s the absolute worst thing to do, especially when that replacement is 5x better than it’s precedent. I know when I’ve reached my limit when I start to get sick or haven’t seen my friends/family in weeks – I know when I need to step back. But at least my career is something I have control over when everything else in life seems to be spiraling out of my control.
“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” – Lady Gaga