Remember me? It’s the girl who started a blog and then got a real job, finding all her free time sucked into a vacuum of oblivion. It’s a terrible excuse for not writing, but it’s the best I could come up with and I’m going to pretend you’re all understanding individuals (you are…right?)
Yes, you read it correctly, this girl has earned a ticket to the real world. I have a full time job. With benefits. And a 401K (whatever that is). I consistently snooze my alarm and shoot coffee into my veins like the rest of you now. I understand why everyone hates Mondays and depends on red wine for survival. Life seems to make so much more sense; I feel like I’m at a mutual understanding with the struggling humans around me, crying into their Venti lattes while realizing that their 10 minute commute is going to take them an hour. **WELCOME TO ATLANTA!**
Having a job isn’t all bad, though. It felt pretty good to pay my own rent and bills for the first couple of months. Now it feels more like a punch in the throat every time I cut a check or submit an online payment. But that moment when the direct deposit hits…
Unbeatable. It’s also nice to feel like you’re contributing to something. Like your daily duties are making a difference or an impact in someone’s life. Somebody is almost always expecting you to be somewhere and do something for them. You’re SO popular! (The jury is still out on whether this is for better or worse)
After graduating and before Belgium, I used to spend my days sleeping in, watching my boyfriend get ready for work at 7am and thinking my life was rough because I lost 30 minutes of precious sleep while he had the bathroom light on. I would wake up around 10am, watch The Doctors, The View, take a break around noon and come back for The Chew at 1pm. (You’re welcome, ABC). Sometimes I’d go to the park or gym if I was feeling really ambitious. I had no responsibilities, no one counting on me to get anything done, and no one expecting anything from me. Except maybe to shower every now and then.
Even as an au pair, my responsibilities were rather light. I would wake up around 10am (or 10:30…sometimes 11) to make lunch for the girls. Later in the day I’d help with homework, drive them to dance class, and keep them entertained. The rest of my time was spent exploring new places and learning new things. Not a bad gig, huh?
Nowadays, if I’m not where I’m supposed to be by 8am, my phone will certainly remind me that I’m slacking in a not-so-subtle manner. Calendar invites, phone calls, emails, voicemails, linkedin messages…the methods of communication these days seem to be endless. I really don’t mind it, though. It’s nice to stay busy. I’ve learned to drive with my knees, email while
walking sprinting in five inch heels, and how to not take things personally. Sales will definitely teach you to grow thick skin, fast. I’m learning a lot about myself and what I’m capable of, and I am beginning to understand the logistics of relationship building in a professional world.
I even make my own doctor’s appointments, pay student loans, and own a credit card (responsibly, I might add). I’m a real grown up!
(Though sometimes it feels more like this)
I’ve learned a thing or two about the working world these last few months, but trying to balance having a career with all the other aspects of life was probably the toughest part to manage. My first month I was going to sleep at 9pm every night, fearing that if I went to bed any later I would be rendered useless the next day. It definitely takes some time to figure out the work/life balance thing, and I’m still trying to perfect it, but I thought I would share some tips I’ve learned in the hopes that I might save at least one person from early-onset work exhaustion (it’s a real thing, look it up).
1. Physical activity is so important. I ignored this fact for an impressively long time. I was basically a professional at not working out. But then I realized how much BETTER it makes you feel. I sleep s, I don’t feel like dying at 2 pm as much, and I haven’t gained quite as much weight as someone who eats 27 Starbursts a day probably should. Make time to do something active, even if it’s just going for a walk or doing some sit ups while watching The Bachelorette. You’ll be glad you did.
2. Eat (semi) healthy when you can. Probably not what you expected to hear from the girl who just admitted her candy addiction 5 seconds ago, but it’s still worth mentioning. Getting in your fruits, veggies and protein can lead to a more productive day. Eating Moe’s for lunch, while delicious, will have you doing the sleepy head nod and avoiding productivity for hours afterwards.
3. Cook at home – bring your lunch! Cooking at home is healthier, will save you money, and save you time in the long run. Plus, if you have leftovers (which you will if you are anything like me, with eyes way bigger than your stomach) you can bring it for lunch the next day instead of going out and spending money.
4. Get OUT of the office! I know I just promoted bringing your lunch instead of going out, but the benefits of taking a break from the office are monumental. Take a walk, hit the office gym for a minute or walk the stairs. And definitely enjoy lunch with your friends occasionally. It’s a great way to take your mind off things (and sometimes you come up with your best ideas when you’re least expecting it).
5. Make plans during the week. If the weekend is the only thing you’re looking forward to on Monday, you’re doing it wrong. If you have other things during the week that you’re excited about, it’ll go by faster and you won’t be so miserable. Whether it’s a movie night with friends, yoga class, or happy hour after work – just have something non-work related on the calendar to keep you going!
6. Take a VACATION! I must admit, my weekend getaways aren’t quite as fabulous as taking casual trips to Paris like I did while living in Belgium. But taking a couple days to go to the beach or a new town/city with friends and loved ones is rejuvenating, fun and necessary.
7. Give back. I’m a big advocator of “me-time”, but nothing beats the importance of giving back and/or volunteering in the community. Yes, jobs are hard and not always fun, but it’s easy to forget how privileged we are to HAVE a job and be able to provide for ourselves and our families. If you have time, go serve at a soup kitchen, volunteer in your local church, or help clean up a neighborhood in your city. It’s rewarding, fun and a great way to spend free time!
8. Do NOT give up your hobbies! Jobs are time-consuming for sure, but don’t let it get in the way of doing what you enjoy. I used work as an excuse to avoid writing for a long time, and I could honestly feel the void in my life. It’s what I like and it makes me happy! Whatever it is – cooking, painting, reading – just make time and do it!
That’s all for now! Hope you enjoyed my little pearls of wisdom and learned that the real world isn’t as bad as they say. Embrace it, make the best of it, and get used to it. We’ll be on this ride for the next 40+ years.(Thanks, Obama)
Until next time!