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Hardly Working: A New Relationship with Work

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

I feel weird right now typing…

If I’m going to write, it’s usually in my journal - but I keep coming back to this idea of sharing. For whatever reason, I feel this call, this desire to share my experience, my story, my journey. My art and my creative practice is such a personal pursuit, it seems only natural to put my words out there too. Still, is writing in this format something I want to do or something I feel like I should be doing? On top of that, I am currently feeling strong imposture syndrome. A huge part of me is shouting “who are you to start a blog, nobody cares about what you have to say, nobody will read this” …but I’m just gonna do it and go with it because I want to and I will not be apologetic about it either. So, read on if you’re curious, but if not - guess what…YOU TOTALLY DON’T HAVE TO STAY!!! <3

But, here we are, so…

I’ve always been a writer for ME. I’ve journaled on and off since I was in middle school, possibly younger. Journaling has always been my way to process things. It’s how I make sense of my thoughts, my emotions, and everything else that enters my sphere of existence.

I feel that I’m just beginning to get curious about the fact that there are other paths to follow other than the one I’ve always known. When I was young, I remember trusting everything I was told. I really was a goody-goody, my mom recently expressed how she didn’t realize how much of a rule follower I really was! I listened, followed directions, and didn’t ask many questions. I simply accepted what I was told, for the most part, and if I didn’t like something that was said because I didn’t agree or understand, I would respond by being grumpy, rude, or quiet instead of trying to understand why. Why did that thing make me feel like that and is it valid? There has been a disconnect I hadn’t been aware of or hadn’t made sense of yet between what my surroundings were teaching me and what I felt to be true. All the while, somewhere below the surface burned a fire, a belief, that if I wanted to be/do something in particular, I could do it. Just like teeny Tina below <3 You ride that horse girl!

The phrase “you need to work hard to be successful” has been a story I’ve had swimming in my head forever. Growing up as a middle class jewish girl on Long Island, I was taught, on some level, that your worth is connected to your work. It's like you're required to choose a job, preferably something that your family wouldn't be embarrassed to tell others about and even better if it brought some level of prestige. I felt encouraged to follow my dreams, but only to a certain level, understanding that some dreams were just hobbies and not careers. You were supposed to have a career, and if you didn't have a career than you had to have a "real job". To society, a "real job" required you to go to an office of some sort, you would work 9-5, have a salary and benefits. You'd tolerate this job because of the paycheck and benefits that support your lifestyle and the pieces that provide you with a small to medium sense of fulfillment. Most of your day you'd find yourself dreaming about the weekend. This never sat well with me. So I went into fitness and wellness where I knew at least I would never be stuck at a desk. It was something I liked and had passion for, it checked my box for something that brought "value" to society, but I was never satisfied, I was settling. Before COVID I was stuck in the same rat race so many others experience; working a job that I didn't hate, but I didn't love either, showing up out of necessity and understanding that this is the way the world works. "If I can figure out how to love this job completely, I will be so happy" I would say to myself. The funny thing is...I was just getting to that space where I genuinely LOVED my job for several months, loved who I was serving, I loved my team, and I was learning to strongly like the things that I didn't love...and then the pandemic hit.

So, “you need to work hard to be successful”...I never questioned or got curious about other ways to interpret this statement. It seemed really concrete and rooted in how it was said and almost everything around me supported that statement, so I just believed it for what it was. Of course you need to work hard to be successful, but what is working hard? and what is success? I hadn’t really defined these terms for myself until very recently.

Somewhere along the way, I picked up that working hard meant being moderately miserable all the time;

sucking it up and doing things you may not want to do. Working hard meant putting your REAL wants and desires aside because you need to get paid and there is no way that THAT can make you money. Working hard…is exhausting and shitty, but it’s the only way to freedom.

Work by definition means: “activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result” - google. Nowhere in that statement does it imply that you need to be MISERABLE!!! In fact, one way to perceive that definition is that work is when you are putting effort into something that has meaning! Why not put that effort into something that is uniquely meaningful to you!?!

We romanticize success in America. Not everyone has the privilege and the opportunity to be successful. It's like the stars need to align just right for you to even take advantage of that small window of opportunity. It takes fortune; you have to have resources, including the knowledge of what to do in order to take advantage of your situation. If you don't have that, there needs to be a twist of fate that allows you to be in that position of privilege. You may have the most supportive, loving family, but if you have to work to support them, their dreams become your priority. Every decision is a compromise.

I felt stuck for years, just like everyone else. The pandemic created opportunities for people to take a stab at something they may have never had the chance to try before. Of course this pandemic is awful is more ways than I can express, but I cannot ignore the fact that it gave me, and so many others, an opportunity to recreate life as we know it. Now that I've tasted this new way of "working", I like many, will not be going back to how work-life was before.

This old way of working to work shouldn't exist, but it does and will continue too until we as a whole change it. It's an unfair proposition that society forces on people; to work, to get paid, to die...Sorry a little morbid there - but that's what it looks like. There are many routes for building the life you want. For those who want to pursue their passions in the hopes of making it into a career, know it's about recognizing the opportunities when they come your way. Just like the pandemic, no one expected this to happen and yet, those who were ready to take advantage did.

Something I began working on right away was figuring out what it is I actually WANT. A step that I feel is often skipped over for a million reasons. Then I began figuring out how to mash up my true wants with what I feel I am the best at. It's when I lean into these things that my work becomes no work at all.

Right now, working hard for me has become, hardly working.

Of course I’m working hard, but I LOVE MY WORK, all of it, not just 80% of it! I am constantly working on things that light me up and the small bits that I don’t 100% love to do, taxes and bookkeeping, I still find excitement in because big picture, it’s all for something I really want!

I’m taking myself to these uncomfortable places of trusting the unknown, leaning into those sparks where I feel the most alive so I can understand myself on a deeper level. To put everything else aside and work on myself in this way feels weird and sometimes a little selfish, but I know it's important and somehow linked to something bigger. Without understanding ourselves, especially the parts we don't like, how can we grow?

I've been dabbling in this new perspective of "work" for several months now, it’s been pretty magical so far, but also really scary! Scary because of all the uncertainty ahead and the fear of going back to what was, but I'm not going back. I have so much I want to do, so many ideas, so much that keeps me up and excites me! I have to constantly remind myself to be patient and slow down...take a breath. The strongest trees in nature are those that grow slowly. I'd like my career to be just like one of those enormous momma trees in the deepest of forests; strongly rooted and thriving, setting the pace, providing nutrients and guidance for so many other trees.

This is all very fresh and it feels funny to write about "publicly"…like it's a secret sauce that I’m not sure is ready for tasting…but this is what is happening right now and I can’t think of a good enough reason to not share it…My anxiety of "what will people think" fades away when I realize, it doesn't matter. If you're still here reading, that's awesome and I am so excited to share with you! If you've checked out...well you don't even know this sentence exists, so who cares?!



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