Melissa is a twenty-something newlywed living in Raleigh, NC with her husband and two dogs. She is a kindergarten teacher, coffee drinker, book reader, and lover of slow mornings.
If You Choose a Job You Love, You’ll Still be Working Every Day
We’ve all heard the saying, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Meaning, if you find your calling you’ll wake up every morning excited to go to work. No more living for the weekends- you can find your fulfillment in your nine to five! I call bullshit.
These days, everything is idolized. Fall is the best because you get to wear sweaters. A perfect Instagram means a perfect life. Being in a relationship will make you happy. It’s always if this, then that. Always leading to some sort of perfect happiness. Always one step away from where you already are.
I’m 26 and I’m no expert. But I feel like I’ve had a taste of it all. I have worked in a job I loved, a job I’ve hated, I’ve given everything to my work, I’ve been a slacker, I’ve been a working mom, a stay at home mom (disclaimer: I’m not a mom- I had custody of my 6 year old nephew for a year), I’ve quit jobs that I was miserable in, and I’ve stepped away from my “dream” to pursue other “dreams.” And here’s the thing: it’s all work. The grass is not always greener on the other side.
While working as a first grade teacher and taking my nephew with me to work every day, I was miserable. I didn’t feel like I was being a good teacher, employee, wife, or “mother.” I made the decision to quit my job. Though I had always wanted to be a teacher, I was burned out and wondering if maybe I had made the wrong choice. I was naive in thinking that maybe the right job was still out there for me. I ended up getting a part time job at a photography studio. Photography is one of my passions so I thought I would use the opportunity to see if it could go anywhere. I worked 3 days a week and the other 2 days were spent taking care of our home. Even though this job was stress free, fun, and part time…it was still work. I still didn’t want to go sometimes and I still was ready to leave as soon as my day was over. Even during my days spent at home, I found myself watching the clock, waiting for my husband to get home so that my “work” day was over. It was in these months that I learned one of the most important lessons of my adult life: work is work.
As I head back to work as a teacher… I have some thoughts. I’ll call them goals, because this is how I hope to react to work from now on.
ONE: Routine is a sign of ambition.
I’ve noticed that I thrive when keeping to a routine. Give yourself a daily expectation for work and personal goals. For example, I can tell myself that before I leave work I have to have graded the papers from that day’s activities and after dinner I will work out or go for a walk. When these things become a routine, you will feel more fulfilled and organized.
TWO: Make an effort, not an excuse.
It’s easy- especially when you feel unhappy in your work- to make excuses for not going beyond the call of duty. It’s easy to go through the motions instead of taking joy in your work. Here’s the thing: having a good attitude and putting forth effort will make you feel proud, confident, and happier. Work a little harder, be a little kinder to your coworkers, and make a goal to go above and beyond for your job- or personal life- at least once a week. For me, this could mean spending a little extra time on a lesson plan to make it a fun learning experience for my kids, grabbing coffee for my team on my way to work, or planning a mid-week date night for my husband.
THREE: The grass is not always greener.
A year ago, I didn’t know this. I really thought that there must be some job out there that I would jump out of bed in the morning to go to. I can honestly say that one of the reasons I was created was to teach children. I know this now. That doesn’t mean that teaching is easy for me. It takes time and effort. It’s exhausting. There are days that I wake up and I. Don’t. Wanna. Go. But there are also days that I wake up feeling good about what I do. Throughout the past few months, I’ve worked part time or not worked at all. And I’ve missed teaching. The non-teaching grass was not greener than the teaching grass. Just because I’ve found a job that I love does not mean that I have not worked a day in my life. It’s means that I will work hard every day in order to keep, do well, and enjoy the job that I have.
I don’t know what job you have. So I can’t tell you what small things to enjoy. But they’re there, I promise. My small things are hugs from kiddos, little drawings, nice emails from parents, messages from past students, joking with my coworkers in the hallway, high fives, and making the class laugh. Those are the moments. That’s what I (should and will try to) think of when I’m wondering if what I’m doing is completely pointless.
FIVE: Treat yo’ self.
Listen, friend. You have to take care of yourself first. But loving and caring for your well being does not mean being lazy. It doesn’t mean getting McDonald’s on your way home because you had a crappy day. It doesn’t mean spending money you don’t have. Taking care of yourself means making sure your work is done before you leave for the day so that you’re not having stress dreams all night. It means drinking a glass of wine and watching Game of Thrones instead of overworking yourself. And it means enjoying the weekend. Go for a hike. Go to the Farmer’s Market. See a movie. Take care of yourself: mind, body, and soul.
Finding a job you love will not make your life perfect. Nothing will. But putting in time, effort, and hard work will give you a more fulfilling and happy life. You will feel more confident in yourself as a person and a professional.