I don’t know about you, but I recently went back to work after almost five months in quarantine. It has been surreal, simultaneously exciting, comfortable, scary, and uncertain. As we start to get ready to send more of our families, friends and circles back into the workforce, school and (let’s face it) the grocery store, I’ve been thinking hard about the impact of time, and how we all fill that time. Going through my morning routine this week, I got a little worried… I started wondering:, “Am I going to have time for all of these things that I’ve come to love once my work schedule goes back to normal?”
The biggest realization I’ve had through being quarantined was when I realized that my morning routine stopped being my “morning routine,” and expanded to just being my day. I was no longer fitting things important to me in before work or my plans, but instead filling my entire day with things that filled my soul. How freeing to understand that I can do that every day, even when I do work or have obligations to attend to. It was a harder than anticipated mindset shift to simply be present in each task throughout my morning, instead of rushing through it so I could cram it in before I had to leave the house. That was a lesson in itself, because I should have been present all along!
I think maybe part of what has been hard for [some] people while their typical schedules have been changed and/or been out of work is that many people are their jobs. Yes, they may do things outside of it, but if you were to ask them who they are or what they do, the first and maybe only thing out of their mouth would probably be their job title. We get so wrapped up in our work that it is easy to forget to forge a life that is meaningful outside of it. And so, we start to shift our entire focus and give it top priority.
I’ve always taken a different approach, and honestly, this is why I’ve always loved to work nights anyway. My full time job has always been behind a bar or in a restaurant. I love having my days free to fill however I want, and usually don’t “clock in” until 4 or 5PM. It’s hard to answer the question, “what do you do?” because I do so many different things. I can feel the judgement in the question when a suited up business man asks me this during his work drinks with colleagues. But I hold strong. Why? Because I’ve always believed that I am more than my job. He doesn’t know that I woke up at 8:30AM and started my day off with an hour of writing because I’m working on publishing. He doesn’t know that I am training for an Ironman, and also was on my bike for 46 miles. He doesn’t know that the only time I stopped during that was to take a picture of a view that couldn’t be missed. Because I believe it’s important to connect to nature, and I’m also always dabbling in photography. He doesn’t know that I came home in time to make lunch for my partner with produce we’ve grown from our own garden before volunteering at a therapeutic equestrian farm. He doesn’t know that spirituality is important to me, and I’ve been obsessed with a new podcast that has been feeding my soul. I listened on the way to work at my bar, which he now sits at with a smirk. “What’s my real job?” LIVING, I want to say. Instead, I respond, “I’m of the belief that a whole life includes my job, but not solely.”
I guess part of the truth in this all is that none of us really know each other. We don’t know our days or our lives or our secrets. We don’t know our dreams or our passions or our projects. So first, can we all just stop judging?!
But the other truth is that we are so much more than our jobs. The man at my bar is more than his job, too, but he may not believe that. And he definitely doesn’t believe that I’m more than mine. But I am. You are. He is. We all are. A hard part during this quarantine was remembering this. While some of us were so wrapped up in our work before the virus took over, we forgot to have passions and dreams and projects and hobbies so we had to relearn how to fill our time when work was out of the picture. But that’s the beautiful part, too, because now that we’re headed back to work, we all have a choice. We can just go back to work, or we can bring our works into our newly crafted lives.
When you go back to work, I challenge you to remember this. You’re a whole person who has a job, not a whole job who has a person. Fill your life and fill your soul. I find life to be so much more joyful and satisfying when I remember that I have so many parts to me, and I can feed them all.
A dog mom of two.
A loving partner to the most amazing woman
An Ironman in training
Obsessed with writing
A running coach
Learning to sew
Learning to homestead
A partial caretaker for 36 horses
A lover of all animals
Committed to helping improve the planet
A proud member of the LGBTQ community
On the path to financial independence (FI)
And so much more.
Part of the reason my journey to FI is thrilling because it reframes the focus of life as being that beyond work. I love to work. I get so much joy and satisfaction from a job well done, but I also know that work does not define me, any more than a grade did during school or a game did during my basketball career. I think it would serve us all if we could remember that.
Get fired up! Write out a list of who you are. See if maybe there is some part of your being that you can nurture this week. I’d love to read your list if you want to share below 🙂 For me, I want to take an entire afternoon to devote to photography.