Tomorrow, I go back to work. After three months on maternity leave, I now have to get settled in my upstairs office and get chained to the desk for eight hours (at least) on internal conference calls, client calls, project planning calls, etc. Two or three weeks from now, I have to get back on the road to travel to my clients a total of one week a month (at least). Not just day trips, but overnighters instead, with a night or two in a hotel (at least). (That pesky "at least" seems to pepper my phrases extensively nowadays.) Working from home is certainly a plus, but the traveling has not been fun for years. And now, especially now, it will be even harder.
So I kick myself when I think back to my college days twenty years ago when I was an English and Creative Writing major. I had lofty dreams for my future, so when I walked across the stage at the University of Maryland and received my degree from a professor who loved my work, I was massively proud of myself, secure in my next steps in life. Another professor loudly applauded who even offered me an opportunity to send my work to him so he could help edit it and advise me.
I NEVER did ANYTHING. I squandered it. Life got in the way? Nah. More like I just let a whole bunch of silly things cloud my next steps and the years just flew by. I am ever the envious one of all my blogging friends who actually use their writing degrees in the real world and who stick with it. (In case you're wondering, I'm thinking of Write Meg! That young lass is just doing things right.)
My degree merely served as a piece of paper to get a "better" job, or so I thought. I never continued to practice the craft other than the occasional smash of stream of consciousness writing when I was bored. (And no, I do not count emails and PowerPoints and contract reviews as writing.) I didn't pursue any of the dreams I had at that time because, hell, I glamorized an image in my head that I needed a job to make a paycheck so I could eat. Woe is me. I just didn't have time, I told myself, to do what I needed to do to get into the job of my dreams later. I didn't want to sacrifice.
Now, twenty years later, I realize I have worked my ass off to have a job that is all tough corporate but, unfortunately, absolutely zero passion. It's important work, and I'm glad to have it, but why? WHY? Why wouldn't I have plugged away to be in an industry I loved, that made me thrilled to go to work each day? Instead, I strayed so far from it that now, as my sweet son sleeps next to me, I realize I have regretfully paid my dues for something which keeps me up late, very late at night. But my sleepless nights are not for the excitement of what I do every day, but simply because I dread the list of things that just have to get done. The list is never interesting. It is never fun. It just, well, is.
Yes, this post has a harsh title. In comparison to the rest of the world, it wasn't a stupid life at twenty-one, relatively speaking. But, oh, it is so cathartic to imagine what I would love to tell my silly and naive twenty-one-year-old self, so that perhaps the hands of time could be kinder now in an alternate universe. Piddly silly little stress at the time. One little girl who, at the time, did not respect the amazing things life would one day give her, and that if she absolutely had to be at work, away from these amazing things, then it better be for something she truly enjoyed. Pay your dues early for the things you want later, I should have repeated to myself. But no.
And, because a post should always have pictures. Behold, my son is introduced to the snow for the first time. I sort of like the photo in the top right as he, um, quietly... informs me that he's not pleased with his hat.
Hi, ho, hi, ho. It's off to work I go.