crafting the life i want to live
It's Friday. I went grocery shopping with my mom this morning. I haven't been grocery shopping on a non-holiday weekday morning in years; it falls into a category of things I used to be able to do whenever (as a kid or in college), and then one day without really realizing it I wasn't able to do it anymore (at least, without taking time off to do so). It's not something you really think about when you first start working full-time, so I really savored getting to wander the empty aisles with undisturbed displays of goods. Isn't it strange how such a mundane experience can turn into something holy, almost sacred when you're able to do it again after so long not being able to? Or how the circumstances around a task can make or break your experience of it? When I go shopping on a weekend after a long week of work the time I spend in the stores competes with my scarce free time and makes the whole ordeal feel like a chore, like I have to get in and get out. But on weekdays all those pressures are lifted.
Now that my schedule isn't dictated by work my daily routine has shifted. I'm sleeping and waking later, getting nine or ten hours of sleep instead of seven or eight. I eat meals later. I spend more time reading and writing, doing things I've been putting off. Circumstances aside, the lifestyle change has been very pleasant—I feel like a cactus soaking up the rain after decades of drought, absorbing the leisure I've been deprived of.
My enjoyment is tinged with guilt, though, because while I am getting a glimpse of the life I'd be able to live if I weren't beholden to a salary, I'm not sure I've really earned it. I did slave away for the better part of the last three years to get a much-needed respite, but it's not like I quit on my own terms. Besides, getting complacent here wouldn't do me any good, would it? I'm only at the beginning of my journey (not even, really), but I feel like I've just attempted to run a marathon after only training for a 5k.
Over breakfast of oatmeal and dates my mom floated the idea of working a retail job to keep myself busy. I jumped on it, realizing that I might finally get to fulfill my lifelong dream of being a crew member at Trader Joe's, but after thinking about it for a bit I wasn't so sure. I do think getting out of the house, facing a new challenge, and making some spare change could be good for me, but I also remember how drained I used to feel after working shifts in retail, and I don't want a part-time job to detract from the bigger task at hand, which is figuring out what I want to do. I think I'm also more burnt out than even I realize, and going from trying to please one supervisor to another might be more than I can handle right now.
I've been pretty good about keeping busy at least thus far, but I don't know how that will hold up in a few weeks' time. One of my friends echoed my mother's sentiment, expressing a concern that I'd do my head in sitting at home, but wouldn't it be better for me to stay home, study, research possible options, and learn some new skills? And I finally have a chance to dedicate more time to writing—shouldn't I try to parlay it into something more, like a part-time job essay writing or coaching?
I'm also a little bit worried that a part-time job would go too well, and that I'd get so comfortable I wouldn't want to go back to corporate knowledge work. I doubt this will happen, given how much working in retail before crushed my soul, but it's still a possibility. After so long agonizing over not being able to do things for simply not knowing how to do them, tackling more straightforward tasks like breaking down pallets and stocking shelves seems like a dream. More likely though, I'm afraid working (in any job at all) will only succeed in further pummeling my motivation into the ground, and right now I know it needs gentle nurturing to grow back into what it used to be.