Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Same Old, Same Old?

While I was at Curves exercising the other night, two ladies were talking about their day.

"How was work?" one asked.

"Same old, same old," the other replied, her voice tinged with boredom.

"Yep, I know how that is," the first one sighed. "Same old, same old."

It hit me at that moment how I do not want to say that about my job or my life: same old, same old.

There are some people in this world who work at the same job for 30, 40, even 50 years. They get up at the same time every day. They go to work at the same office. They do the same tasks. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. They have a routine, and they have security in this routine. Some people love their jobs. Some do not. Yet they stay, perhaps looking forward to that time when they retire and life can finally begin.

And they are perfectly fine with that. I admire them.

But I am not fine with my life taking that route at all.

Why?

Because I do not want the "same old, same old" to be my career.

I do not want to be an office drone the rest of my life. I do not want to just "put in my time" until I retire. I do not want to continue doing something I do not love for years on end. I do not want to start living life solely on vacations or weekends before returning to the drudgery of the day job.

Many people say that writers should not quit their day jobs. For financial reasons and some other, compelling reasons (the sense of camaraderie you get with your co-workers, health insurance and other benefits, etc.), I agree that keeping the day job is a necessity.

For me, it is a necessity at this point in my life.

And yes, I, too, am caught up in the same old, same old. For now.
A little tongue in cheek humor...

But I am actively working to make sure it is not going to be the same old, same old in the future.

Here is why.

I have two consuming passions that work rather well together: writing and history. I am defined by those passions in so many ways that it is probably impossible to document them all. In short, they compose a major part of who I am.

Which means that I want to live my passions. I want to live through my writing and my love of history. Achieving this goal remains of paramount importance to me.

I want the opposite of same old, same old. I want to be able to write and publish my novels. Go on a few book tours. Have enough money in my bank account to take a trip once a year. Volunteer at a museum. Go on research trips. Write, write, write. Break out of the routine.

But! I also want to be home when my daughter gets out of school in the afternoon. Enjoy my cozy house and my pets. Take walks in the morning when it's crisp and cool outside instead of being locked in rush-hour traffic. Look at the clock and think, "Oh! It's that time already? I've been enjoying myself so much that I didn't even notice time passing!" Connect with readers and writers. Take my time browsing through an old bookstore instead of hurrying through it on my lunch hour. And lots and lots of other things. ( I also know that there will undoubtedly be plenty of times where I will not be positive, happy, and cheerful. I am well aware of the flip side of the coin.)

Perhaps you think I am an idealist. This would not be the case. I am a realist, if anything. I know that I need to pay my bills, which means I need an income, which means I need a job. I need health insurance. I need to pay rent. Those things cannot be done on passion alone. They require income, and at present, the day job is filling that need. I am immensely grateful for it. Truly, I am. In this time of economic misery, I feel incredibly blessed.

That is why I am taking baby steps to achieve my goal.

But identifying what I don't want out of life is the first step.

And I don't want same old, same old.



27 comments:

  1. Great post, Melissa. Before I started writing, I used to live in Washington, DC, where I got up every morning at 6 to be on the train by 7 to get to work. I didn't get home until late in the evening. By the time I ate leftovers for dinner, it was time to go to bed. I was rushed every day and the weekends were reserved for errands and the chores I was unable to do during the week because I was always working.

    I understand your desire to not conform to the rat race culture that is our country's work environment. Some people think that this is the only way to live life in order to be successful, but a lot of those people are very unhappy. Right now, I am fortunate that I have time to write, but I also have to work to supplement my husband's income. However, we want children some day and we have decided that it is in the best interest of the family that I write from home when that time comes. Again, some people will look at that as being lazy or whimsical, but I want to have a meaningful, joyful life,not one where I MUST rush out of the house early in the morning and come home when it's dark.

    Sorry for the long comment. I just love your post today :-)

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    1. Brandi, thank you so much for sharing. I can completely understand your desire to leave the rat race life! And I so agree with you about wanting to live a meaningful, joyful life. We are pushed to be busy, as if busy = success. I'm glad there are those of us not willing to accept that equation. =)

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  2. I love it too Melissa:) Today is my birthday, which really means taking a good hard look at my own life. I don't want the same old, same old either, year after year-yet frustratingly, I'm not sure what I do want. For now, being Amy's mom-and actively being a part of her life is more than enough, and hopefully the future will sort itself out. Hugs, my dear.

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    1. Happy Birthday, Valerie!!! And that is part of my frustration, too - the need to be with my daughter more. I think she needs me more than ever as she navigates middle school and, in a few years, high school. I want to be home when she gets home from work, and that drives me to make a change, too.

      I think you'll figure it all out. In fact, I know you will. =)

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  3. I lived the same old, same old for 14 years before I married and had my first child. I hated it.
    When my babies were tiny, hubby went through university to become a teacher. They were tough years, but now we're truly blessed. I don't need to work, which has meant I could homeschool when it was the best thing for my kids and now that they are in school, I'm here when they get home or are sick. It's also allowed me to devote a good portion of my day to writing and reading, and historical research.
    Good on you, Melissa, for having a plan to live the life you want. Keep taking those baby steps. It will all work out in the end. :)

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    1. I'm so glad that you were able to get out of the "rat race" JT, and are able to be there for your kids! I was blessed to stay home with my daughter until she was two, then I went back to graduate school and got a job after I graduated. But I really think she needs me more now than when she was a baby - emotionally, anyway - as she navigates middle school and (soon!) high school.

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    2. Yes, you're right - as they get older our children need us just as much, if not more than when they were toddlers, but in such a different way. At least when they are older they understand when 'life' limits our availability.
      Our daughters are at a similar stage, (mine started high school this year) it's an interesting time isn't it?

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    3. Definitely an interesting time! My daughter has gone completely boy crazy. LOL

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  4. This is a great post! There is nothing wrong with being a realist as long as you can keep your idealist side! That is what keeps a writer going and working hard. It gives us hope and without hope life truly is "the same old same old". I hope you ladies do not mind a guy popping in but this was such a good post I had to say something! I read and enjoy your blog often!

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    1. Hi Steve! Oh, we don't mind you popping in at all. Very glad to have you! :) Yep - have to work to keep that balance between idealist and realist, but it's better than being a pessimist! =)

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  5. My boyfriend and I were talking about this just the other day: the tricky balance between following your passion, doing meaningful work, supporting yourself and being a contributing member of society. It's rare when all those things come together. The clincher for me was when I realized my main reason for NOT quitting my miserable full-time job was my fear that I wouldn't have enough money for retirement...when I would finally be able to do what I wanted. That's when I decided 40 years was too long to wait. I still have a part-time day job to pay the bills, and I write, and like you, I feel truly blessed.

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    1. You're right - it's an INCREDIBLY tricky balance. I hope that I can figure it out. I'm so glad you did, Christine! =)

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  6. You have the right idea, but as pointed out, it is not always realistic and feasible in this day and age. Kudos to those who do it anyway and figure out a way to make it work, with a lot of prayer. . . 40 years ago when your mother and I were newlyweds and raising children, we enjoyed that concept. But today, most cannot.

    As for me, I have been thinking similar thoughts. Why should I wait 3 more years to retire; why not retire now @ 62 and start doing what I want to do. It's the medical insurance thing that keeps one imprisoned till age 65.

    However, I do enjoy my job, it is flexible, and very condusive to allowing me to get other things accomplished. So I've been very fortunate. But I'm thinking of cutting back an hour or two each day 9 -4 instead of 8-5 just to give me more time at home. Your post has inspired me to really give that more serious consideration. Thanks. Have a blessed day.

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    1. I'm glad I inspired you, Sandi. :) And I think you should cut back just an hour or two. It's amazing how much difference that could make. I wanted to do that with my job - leave at 3 every day and then stay home with my daughter after school, but I would have lost my health benefits, so couldn't. Someday...

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  7. Hear hear! Life is way too short to get lost in a treadmill of boredom. We have been given talents and desires for a purpose, and sometimes those get lost due to conforming or just not being aware of what is possible. Sometimes that's the biggest step of all.

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    1. I love that phrase: treadmill of boredom. Oh, does that ever fit sometimes!

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  8. Great post! Here's to moving past the 'same ol', same ol'!

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  9. Oh I so agree Melissa! Good for you x

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  10. Amen. I think a lot is how we view our days, though. I've seen Stay at Home Moms blog and write about life like it is a constant whirlwind of crazy, and others write about it like it's drudgery of the same kind each day.

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    1. I agree. It's all about how you look at life.

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  11. You write about this problem so many of us face, so well! I would love to quit my job to split my time between my family and my writing and connections with other writers and readers... and this is even with a job that I really enjoy (for the most part). Like you I remind myself of the benefits of a job: camaraderie with co-workers, a chance to be "salt and light", a routine that structures my time (I need structure and don't manage my time well without it).

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    1. I'm the same way - I do need structure and some sort of routine. I'm hoping I can have that type of structure two or three days a week and then spend the other days at home writing. Here's hoping! :)

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  12. I know exactly what you mean! Sometimes it’s easier and far less scary to stick to the “same old, same old” but then are you really “living”?! Recently I’ve decided to start writing a book and no, it’s not a history one! I’m finding it difficult but, in an odd way, rewarding! Maybe it’s because I’m stepping outside my box or perhaps it’s because I’ve gone a bit crazy :-) Either way, it’s not the “same old, same old!”

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    1. Good for you! I think it's important to try new things, even though they may be hard or even scary. Good luck with the book!

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  13. Excellent post Melissa--I feel the same way. - Scott Lyons

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