For my husband to make any kind of drastic change in his life, there has to be a “last straw.” I’ve heard him tell me about his various last straws before, but I’m usually not that kind of person. This week, though, I discovered my last straw. In fact, I found a whole bag of ’em.
Nearly three years ago now, I got a new job. It was in the same field where I’d already spent about 11 years of my career, but it was a job that took that career to an entirely new level. It was with a highly respected company, a Fortune 500 company, and this job had the opportunity to change my life, which is exactly what it did. On the good side, it propelled me into a tax bracket of the likes I’d never seen before. It challenged me. Forced me to step outside of my comfort zone in every possible way. Made me have to adapt to a work speed and intensity unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Got me to Seattle.
But there were bad ways it impacted me, too. Longer hours. Crazy schedules. Constant, gut churning stress. Subjected to expectations so high that they seemed impossible to meet. Sky high expectations that I place on others. All of this meant that, before too long, I was a nervous basket case half the time. My free time dried up, as did my time to spend with family. My hobbies – mainly fiction writing and sewing – were shoved into the background until they were just a distant memory.
This week, though, there was a blow-up. It started out as a disagreement between me and my boss, and after a few days of stewing and finally having a meeting on Friday, things are okay again. Apologies were given but, most importantly, anger was replaced by forgiveness. For about 36 hours, I sat and stewed and cried because I realized that this job, somewhere over the past nearly three years, has turned into my life. It gave me a paycheck that’s a blessing and, in exchange, I gave it my soul.
No more. It’s with a rousing cry, like that of a rooster as the sun begins to come up, that I say, “Absolutely no more!” No more 60 hours a week. No more spending my weekends working. No more feeling guilty on the weekends when I’m not working and I should be. No more obsessively checking my iPhone for new emails at 2am. No more sacrificing myself for the sake of my career. I’ve given 150% for 34 months now, and I’m tired. My soul is weary and the energy has been sapped right out of me.
I feel like there’s a touch of Rosie the Riveter in my battered soul right now. Rosie represented women who went into the workforce and made things happen, but she’s also a symbol of inner strength. I need some Rosie in my life, because if you ask me if I’m going to take my life back and extract my soul from the corporate walls, I will say, “I can do it!”
The bottom line is that I have to do it. I’m 36 going on 80 because of my health and the numbing weariness that I’ve carried for too long. I’ll still give 100% of my self to my job because that’s my work ethic, but I’m reclaiming that other 50% I used to give, too. It’s mine, and I want it back. I want me back.