I have to admit that I tend to be an all or nothing type of person. While I try my best to be flexible, I’m happier when things go my way. Traveling has become a pretty big hobby for me now but I find that it’s difficult to switch between vacation mode and work mode. Weekend trips are great but they tend to end too soon and it’s hard to not think about work when you have 48 hours before you have to go back. It’s easier for me to work hard for a period of time and then go exploring than to switch back and forth. I like longer vacations because I think that it actually gives you time to unwind and relax. As much as a regular job with minimal time off can be exhausting, it’s important to have something to look forward to as motivation. When I’m in work mode I’m a homebody. I’m focused and I’m counting down the days to vacation. I’m not looking for new places to explore because I’m focused on doing what I need to do in order to take a much needed break.
For some reason I’ve met a lot of people whose retirement plan consists of winning the lottery. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a nice dream to have but the odds aren’t the greatest. I remember reading an article somewhere that talked about how millennials don’t want to spend decades doing the same job like older generations did. I personally can’t imagine doing the same job consistently for over a year as I get bored easily but also like consistency. The truth of the matter is that it’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve started to get into the habit of doing something drastically different every once in a while. It’s amazing how much you can plan and implement when you take some time off and reflect. I like learning new skills that build on my existing knowledge base. While all my jobs haven’t been fun, they’ve taught me so much about myself. I love the idea of stability but I hate when it gets confused with monotony. Life is short and should be lived accordingly. Self-reflection and planning is critical for success. Take the time to do that instead of staying in reaction mode all the time.
When I moved into my new apartment I did something that I had always wanted to do—got cable television. Now granted I don’t have enough channels to even remotely keep up with things in the television world, but it’s been a decent deal. Of course my cable use has been supplemented with my TV antenna, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Videos so I really don’t miss a lot. I rarely watch things in real time but I’ve come to love the DVR. It’s so amazingly convenient to watch things when you want to. I’ve found a new favorite show to DVR–Modern Family. About 120 episodes worth if we’re being specific. It’s an awesome show about the daily life experiences and challenges of families. It’s not really a comedy but there’s this dry ironic underlying humor vibe that I like. Needless to say, watching an episode or so after a long day at work has been great for decompressing after a long frustrating day at work. It’s comfortable and doesn’t require a lot of thought…Self care right?
These past few weeks have been unusually stressful for me. I feel like everyone has a certain level of stress that they manage and cope with on a daily basis. It’s like a “regular load” of sorts. And then there are the things that can’t really be helped. It’s like Murphy’s Law gone haywire. The past two weeks have been exactly like that. From my job doubling my caseload, to car troubles, to making a decision to separate myself from someone who didn’t have my best interest in mind–it’s been exhausting. I was talking to someone the other day and I said that I felt like building a fort in my house out of blankets and chairs, crawling in and never coming out. Very unreasonable I know. The theme of my life sometimes seems to be this song “You Can’t Win.” But one thing that I’ve learned is the importance of being flexible and resourceful when necessary. I have to admit that times like this make me miss the presence of a significant other in my life. I’m not complaining but it would be nice to have someone as an actual support who had a vested interest in my life and was there because they wanted to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and would do anything for them but it would so clutch to not go to bed alone every night. I’ve never been one to flaunt my single status or to complain about it but there’s something to be said about the power of “we” versus “me.” Normally I would take this time to launch into some Pollyanna-like declaration that everything will be fine. Someone will come into my life who genuinely want to be in it and I’ll experience some degree of happiness in the future. But I’m just not feeling it right now. Yes, I’ll be fine. I’ve been living this way up to this point and a change isn’t anywhere on the horizon. I’ll continue to adapt and make adjustments as necessary but it honestly does just plain suck at times. But that’s my life. At least for now.
Recently I had a very long conversation with a friend of mine regarding a similar experience we were having. Don’t get my wrong, I’m glad that I chose my particular career path. Social work/counseling is a good fit for my personality and I genuinely enjoy helping others. However, one sees things in a totally different light when you’ve studied human interactions and behaviors from an academic point of view. When you’ve met with hundreds and talked at length about their personal challenges and relationship woes. The way you perceive the world around you changes when perfect strangers feel comfortable walking up to you and sharing details about the personal life and current problem because (apparently) you have the “trust me I’m a therapist/safe person” face. One thing my friend and I discussed was how hard (somewhat impossible) it is to separate professional knowledge from actual emotion in personal relationships. As a therapist you question everything. One’s hidden motives, past history, emotions, and body language to come to a conclusion on the best course of action to help them. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to take anything at face value in personal relationships and the tendency can be to overthink. If overthinking was a professional sport, I would be a pro. I love connecting the dots and making sense of complicated and complex information. It’s a great professional skill to have, but using a professional skill for personal use definitely has a downside. I think it comes down to taking it a day at a time and becoming okay with not knowing all the information up front. Which, by the way, can be very frustrating but also necessary to cultivate a healthy balance.
This week has been one of reflection. It’s not that I don’t usually reflect because that’s definitely not the case. As a classic overanalyzer (probably not a word), I have an abundance of reflecting and planning thoughts at the same time. One thing I remembered today is that I promised someone that I would give them the link to this blog but then I thought about how it could possibly skew their perception and decided to postpone it until a later date. After all, I am searchable and if they really wanted to find out beforehand they could. But I digress. I think I have found the perfect way to not get over jetlag. Travel 8 hours back (in timezones), hop off the plane and then immediately start a 72 hour night shift work week. It’s practically fail proof. I was recently in France for some school obligations and also some fun and I must say that it was a raging success. I definitely should have stayed longer than a week but it was a quick trip. After my wonderful adventure last summer, I wanted to try more international travel this year. Unfortunately this meant that I had to schedule most trips in the last six months of the year but as the year is coming to a close, it’s nice to know that there are a still a few places on my schedule. Outside of my school obligations that included sitting in various seminars during the day, I had the chance to explore some of Paris with a few friends who I (ironically) met in Spain. The fact that I was in the city last summer was nice because I had the chance to enjoy the experience a bit more without the need to take a picture of every single thing related to French culture or food. The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time I was there and the food was exquisite. One very nice thing about the trip was that I actually had the opportunity to relax. For the longest time I thought that I just couldn’t relax but I discovered that I just have to go overseas to do it (go figure). The combination of good conversation, good wine, great friends, and an environment thousands of miles away from obligations was a wonderful experience and was just what the doctor ordered. I haven’t been that relaxed in years. Aside from one other thing, the highlight of my experience was traveling to Normandy and seeing some of the historic sites from WWII. We went to the American Cemetery and it was so sobering to see all the white crosses lined up of people who died at such a young age fighting to liberate a country that wasn’t their own. It felt overwhelming to think of all the parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles who had tearful goodbyes to their loved one who they would never see again because they died halfway across the world. Needless to say, seeing the beaches and the plaques and the American flags flying high was pretty thought provoking and reminded me of all the things that I sometimes take for granted. Driving on narrow roads and seeing the beautiful countryside was also memorable. It was the best trip I’ve taken this year and well worth the jet lag and sleepless nights. Can’t wait to go somewhere else.
When I was a little kid, the time of day that I absolutely hated was nap time. It was between the hours of 11 and 12noon. I quickly realized that nap time was more for my mother’s benefit than anything else because she was trying to get us all on a schedule and she was the primary caregiver for 4 kids under the age of 6 with the youngest being a newborn. I remember complaining bitterly about why I should be allowed to stay up to no avail. I was admonished time after time that one day I would wish I could take a nap but wouldn’t be able to. I adamantly insisted that would never be my story. Naps were for people who didn’t have a good book to read or were tired all the time and I had no use for them. Fast forward a few years later to the rigors of high school–the homeschooled version. I quickly discovered the power of a quick nap due to being a night owl. Also, it was a break from the self paced work which was mind numbingly boring most of the time. The practice of afternoon naps continued through college where I took ten minute power naps in between classes. This was especially helpful to my sanity the year I took 19 credit hours, worked two jobs, and went to bed at 2am or later 5 nights per week. Fast forward to last year where I was working in a job from hell. Well, not LITERALLY hell but pretty close to what I would imagine it to be with traditional work hours. While it was meaningful and in my field I missed having flexibility. A typical job where you worked 8 hours straight without a lunch break was not my cup of tea. I didn’t have the luxury of afternoon naps and I missed it. I’ve come to have a very healthy appreciation for naps due to my newfound inability to sleep more than five hours at a time. There’s nothing like the mental clarity that occurs after you’ve gotten a quick moment to sleep and recharge. I admit I think that people would be a lot happier if they were allowed to take a quick nap during the workday. We already know that most people don’t get nearly the amount of sleep that’s typically recommended. How nice would it be to have a mandatory nap time built into the work day? I for one would be all for it.