“When anybody asks, 'What are you writing about now?' if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
- Madeleine L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet


Working Hard and Being Happy

Friday, October 03, 2008

Last night I was browsing my RSS feed reader. I clicked on a link and as the page loaded, my eye passed over it. At a glance, I misread the first line to say, "I like the idea of working really hard and being happy..." Do you ever read something and an immediate "YES" goes off in your head with flashing lights and sirens blaring? This was just such a moment. I want to work really hard and be happy.

That is certainly not to say that I am not happy with my life. My Geek is the most wonderful man I've ever known. I am incredibly blessed to have him as my husband and I love him more every day I spend with him. I have a lovely home in a beautiful peaceful setting. I have supportive friends and family. Despite a few frustrations, I really am quite happy with my life.

But one of the biggest frustrations I have (and I know I share this frustration with many, many people) is that I am not happy with my work, and for the most part have not been for the past 20 years. I go from job to job to horrible job and every time I feel like I fall further and further into an inescapable sinkhole. I have to work so we can pay the bills, but the only work for which I am qualified and which pays enough, tends to make me unhappy.

So this mistaken quote struck a chord with me, to put it mildly. A resounding "YES" still reverberates through me every time I think of that sentence. "I like the idea of working really hard and being happy..."

I used to think I was lazy; that I hated my work because I didn't really want to work at all. But I know that's not true. There is a deep satisfaction to be found in working really hard, in exerting yourself whether physically or mentally with the result of accomplishing something productive and rewarding. I want that to be at the core of my working life.

I'm tired of going day after day to a job where I do work that has no lasting significance. No one's life will ever be made more beautiful or richer or more fulfilled, because of the work I do there. If I left, no one would even remember me a month from now and my work there would have no lasting impression on the company or any of the individuals there. My leaving would not impact the office either positively or negatively.

I want to work really hard and be happy. I've wanted this all my life, but never put it into quite those words. I've been searching all my adult life for a way to combine these two things – working really hard and being happy. Some people seem to find this elusive balance early on in life, and some spend their entire lives searching unsuccessfully. I'm certainly not one of the former, but I desperately hope I am able to achieve this goal before I become the latter.

So I'm working on a hare-brained scheme, something that makes me happy, and something I've been thinking of for a while, but I thought I could not accomplish while working a full-time job. Now I think, maybe I just have to push that phrase "really hard" a little further. Maybe I need to be willing to give up a little more in order to make this happen. So I'm going to push myself a little harder, work a few more hours in the day, and maybe if I work "really hard" enough at the thing that makes me happy, I can become one of those people who are fortunate enough to "work really hard and be happy".



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