Last night, I had a phone call from someone I adore. Let’s call this person Jamie.
Jamie asked me what I’d been up to over the weekend.
“Oh, just working,” I said. “The good doctor was on call overnight on Saturday, so I got caught up on a bunch of work projects.”
Jamie’s response was pity: “Oh no! That sounds awful! Working on a Saturday!”
I don’t mind working on a Saturday, which I shared with Jamie. In fact, as I told Jamie, I kind of prefer it because no one else works on Saturday, which means I don’t have phone and email interruptions to distract me. (I like working on holidays for the very same reason.)
But I’ve found that this is a pretty common reaction to my working on a Saturday. Or to working late on a weekday. Or to taking a working vacation.
Let me be clear with you: Sometimes, like anyone, I get irritated with work. Sometimes I get overwhelmed. Sometimes I feel taken advantage of, overworked, over-extended.
When I’m feeling these things, I share them – in gory, in-depth detail – with my mom and my husband. (They should be sainted. For realz, yo.)
But for the most part, I love what I do. It challenges and invigorates me. I get excited about the projects I’m working on. I think about them all the time. I feel energized when I’m working, and I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when I finish a project.
So I get a little miffed when someone’s reaction to my working is, “Awww, poor you!” or “Man, I hope they are paying you overtime for that!” or “You need to find another job.”
I think what people like Jamie are offering is commiseration. They want me to know they think I’m worth something… I’m valued… And they want me to know they feel outraged if I’m being exploited.
I appreciate that kindness, I really do. It’s wonderful to know that I have people in my corner.
But I guess I get a little sad, too… Sad that other people [a] don’t love their work or [b] don’t understand people who DO love their work or [c] can’t imagine that work is enjoyable, period or [d] don’t believe that the workday extends past 5:00 on Friday.
I’m not saying you should let your work define you… Or that you can’t/shouldn’t find fulfillment outside of your career… Or that there aren’t times when people ARE taken advantage of or exploited or underpaid or what have you… Or that you should devote your entire life to your job…
And believe me… I understand (finally, after several years) that you need to have down time, vacation, time away from work… That you need to have boundaries between your work life and personal life… That you need to be protective of your out-of-work life…
But I guess I think that if you work only until 5:00… Or feel that your job is chore, more often than not… Or feel that work is something to be gotten through, endured, tolerated…
Well, I think you need to find a new job.