THE MYTH OF NINE-TO-FIVE
Last year, the New York Times ran an editorial titled "Why You Hate Work." I must have missed it when it first ran, but I had seen it posted on Facebook recently and clicked on the link. After all, the title alone resonated strongly with me.
Since then, I have re-read the first paragraph alone at least a dozen time. Because it speaks to the sensation I feel in my stomach, like a festering, bubbling pit of bile. "The way we’re working isn’t working," authors Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath wrote. "Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep."
I often think about my intended purpose and what it is I am ultimately meant to do. I also consider my family and demands that must be met like eventual tuition for three, food on the table, clothes in the closet, and the extra things like toys and comic books. I then try to convince myself that I'm entitled and that the very notion of liking your job is as fantastical as unicorns and fairies. Who truly likes their job? How many of us say that we're happy doing what we're doing? That we enjoy being subjected the cruel whims of our superiors without their regard for our personal lives?
Over the last five years, while I have been employed at the same job, I have struggled with finding creative fulfillment while also fulfilling my obligations as a family man. This has been a tricky intersection between idealism and practicality. Compromise and even greater compromise. The days pass even faster than before, and with each passing twenty-four hours, the responsibilities increase. What can I do, I ask myself? Sometimes I look in the mirror attempting to penetrate my soul in an effort to find the hidden answer. I'll interview myself as if I were the subject for a freelance assignment. I still haven't reached resolution.
But the thing I find most offensive is the way we harass and bully one another into perpetuating the stereotype of "working hard," as if the hours spent in the office somehow reflected on your passions, your talents, your worthiness. But ironically, I find the opposite to be true. I'm often able to provide quality work in the typical hours provided. And if I'm not, I am fully capable of doing that from home. I have never not been able to deliver.
Yet right now, I am dealing with a "superior" who feels as if you have to sacrifice your family life and "be here" whether it's necessary or not. It's facetime on steroids. And while I could stop resisting and give in to it, I refuse to do so. I am intent on not sacrificing. I have prioritized my family, my personal life, I am holding on to the one thing that makes me happy in this world. Because they are what I can take great pride in. That's the thing I am excited about, and I feel appreciated there. I believe that what I'm doing does in fact make a difference.