Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Work notes

I think in every job there is a ratio of things you love versus things you hate. Let's just say, in other jobs the percentage of "things you hate" was a lot higher than it is now. Let me preface this by saying that I like my job, I really, really do.

Still, a job is a job is a job, and I don't know if I'll ever stop pining to be back in grad school. Last week an acquaintance and I were comparing notes about dress codes and work lunches and sitting in front of a computer for eight hours a day. "What I miss most about school is the flexibility, being able to choose your own schedule based on what you want to do." Oh, yes. Actually, what I miss most is learning about obscure stuff then talking about it with smart people.

Work reminds me of the "other" school, the K-12 years, going to bed early and being told when to take a lunch and when you can use the bathroom. Seeing the same people every day and caring what they think. You seem to spend a lot of time counting down the days, hours, and minutes.

In the midst of the stucture you can only dream about that other life that you know is out there, the one besides rush-hour traffic and meetings and presentable clothes. The existence where I could stay up late and walk outside in the middle of the day and I could wear jeans and it wouldn't be frowned upon.

I've noticed the number of people I hang out with on weekends has been steadily declining since I got out of school. I was actually invited to go to a club on Friday night but I said no because I was about to pass out because of tiredness. Last week I went to bed before 10 p.m. a few times.

It's funny but I think if I was still in school I'd have had a totally different response to the Haiti earthquake. I'd get on the Internet and look at stuff for hours. I'd reflect on it more, take some time for it to absorb instead of what I did, which was acknowledge it then quickly move on to business as usual. How different of a person am I from what I used to be? Am I that fundamentally changed?

But this is what you do to have your good name and money in your bank account. Yes, of course, a job provides its own forms of freedom, financial and opportunity-wise. And I really don't miss forking over several thousand dollars every semester, over-long lectures, and wondering if what you're studying ultimately matters in the real world. Maybe I'm also forgetting about the stress that came with school, the homework and the uncertainty. Still I can't help thinking about those years as the golden years. They may have ruined my outlook on work for life.

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