You know those weird Instagram pages that men always follow with either photos of models in suits carrying briefcases getting into a Ferrari, or the weird, hench, masculine equivalent of Live, Laugh, Love graphics with something stupid like, “The grind never stops”? Yeah, those Instagram accounts wish they were me.
As I write this, I have not had a day off in over four months. And by not having a day off, it means I don’t have time to go shopping, or go to a Soul Cycle class on the weekends, or have dinner with my friends. I sit at my desk and work every single day from 8am to 11pm (sometimes 12am) every single day. I am – to put it plainly – grinding. I’m grinding hard.
And I’m lucky to do it, I guess. After a spell where literally no companies would hire me and I had exactly zero ins (that’s how I started freelancing, folks. If someone won’t hire you to do the job, do it by yourself), it still feels like a blessing that I get paid to do what I set out to do all those years ago, when I decided I wanted to be a writer.
But I have to say, it’s not fun and games. I’m tired. And honestly, just want to have a lie down. I want to go out for dinner with my friends knowing I can have a sleep in the next day and not think about the work I’ll have to do the next morning – or worse, when I get home. I want desperately to repost those images from Sunday Scaries that have a glamourous photo of Hailey Baldwin drinking a martini with the caption “Slamming laptop shut until Monday morning” like clockwork on Friday at 6 o’clock. On Friday at 6 o’clock, I open up my other computer and go straight back to work at my other job. It’s a whole thing.
Am I enjoying it? Kinda. Am I hating it? Not really… Did I wish I had my weekends back? Hell yes. But for some strange reason, when people ask me about my life and I have literally nothing to say (because I have only been at home. My desk chair is plastic – which means my back is made of mush – and I’m convinced I’ve made a dent in it because I sit there for 98 hours a week) I feel… smug. I’m proud to say that all I do is work. Why?
I have never been that chick. I like my work-life balance. In fact, I like it so much that I would rather have more of the life side of the equation and less work. If I had a choice, I would live in a hard-to-find cottage and spend my days learning how to fish the lake and crochet knit mini dresses. But instead, I’m living in inner-city London (tough, as a nature girl), not even making the most of it because I live at my desk. And I’ve clearly drunk the kool-aid because I’m proud about it.
Why are we so happy to say that we’re time-poor? Why are we so happy to say that we literally have no life and are a slave to capitalism? I’m just trying to earn enough money so that my dog can live the life that she deserves – which includes driving in her very own second-hand VW Golf to a hiking spot so she can run free through the forest every weekend. And for that, I have to work 98 hours a week. I should’ve gone into finance. You bet I’d own a briefcase and a Ferrari by now. I might even have time to vlog my morning “Man smoothies”. (I don’t make those, just making fun of the grind pages again. Sorry.) Point is, when has it become a point of pride to say that we literally don’t have time for ourselves?
Brigid Schulde, the author of Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time has something interesting to say about this:
“What continues to strike me the most is how busyness keeps us separated from ourselves. We get so breathless, and often panicked, that we can no longer see the horizon. Social psychologists call this “tunnelling.” When we keep digging and digging, it gets darker and darker, and we’re not even sure where we’re going or why we’re digging so fast. In the Middle Ages, sloth (as in one of the seven deadly sins) had a flip side, acedia–the state of constant, mindless busyness. Philosophers thought of the two conditions as two sides of the same coin, because in each we are divorced from our own souls.”
I’m not quite sure I’m feeling soulless at the moment, per se, but I certainly would like to have time to do other things I enjoy, apart from write. I think my job would become very difficult if I lost my soul in it, because isn’t that where writing comes from?
I think my smugness comes from feeling successful in my work. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Doesn’t that bring up the idea of what does success really mean?’ And yes – thanks so much for bringing that up – it does. Most of us are working so that we can live a great life later on (a mistake, my man. Enjoy the life you live now before you’re too old to enjoy it. I should take my own advice), but a lot of us are working to get better at our craft – and of course, make a bit of dough in the meantime so we can continue our trend of buying jewellery and furniture that we struggle to afford (I am a Taurus after all).
My smarminess comes from feeling worthwhile and like I’m gaining ground in my career. Of course, it always feels nice to have a purpose, too. Now the only thing is, how not to sound so smug about it… Anyway, back to work!
“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.” – Alan Cohen
Feature image via Instagram