So, interestingly, another one bites the dust. And the eternal question: how long can we keep doing this? Why do we push ourselves so hard? Is this normal?
It’s strange to realize that one is busy and not busy at the same time, and stranger to realize that one can be meaningfully occupied (most of the time) throughout the day and still be able to escape when the sun goes down. These are the limits and boundaries that most of the population lives by, the ones we throw out of the window voluntarily when we enter the profession, whether we like it or not and whether we planned it that way or not. This was something we expected and were expected to do and expected from our colleagues and juniors. Everything was planned and hierarchical and everything would come to you in time, in time just like with everybody else, and we dug ourselves into a hole of comfort in which we went about our business in our little isolated world, our only contact with the Great Beyond being the dial tones of conference calls and that sole window in a partner’s room.
It seems trite to elaborate on, whine about, what is essentially hard work. It surprises me to know that life can be so much easier now. To think about whether life is actually supposed to be this easy. It can’t be, right? It makes me wonder whether I am missing out on something, or whether I was too used to functioning on such a high level that it is difficult to come down now. Which is not to say that there are no learning points and nothing to do, but now that I only have ten things to do a day instead of forty, it means my brain is possibly working four times slower than it can. Which is not to say four times slower than it should. I am not at all sure my brain is wired to function four times faster than the average individual, and with twice the number of working hours. Is this an adequate use of my talents (however meagre and few there are)? Probably not. One could argue I was probably not made to take life so easy. My mum in particular would agree. When I was just born, I was told, some famous fengshui/geomancy/whatever person came to see me. I would earn lots of money, he said, in the typical Chinese way of measuring success. But I would have to work very hard to get there. For years throughout my adolescence this sentiment bugged me every time I forgot to consciously bury it. So I thought about this hard work vs. your life thing, probably way earlier than most people. Probably one of the reasons why my ex-boyfriend could never understand why I was so, so terrified of graduating, of stepping out, into this world where I could no longer coast and would actually have to earn my keep. All in all, I can do it, and enjoy it even as I’m doing it (negotiations alone at 3am in the morning? Bingo!), but intrinsically I have a great and overarching dislike of hard work. Who doesn’t? I am a fundamentally lazy piece of shit. My desired state of mind is vegetative. Actually no, not really; but my desired state of mind is thinking about something other than work. And so that is what it is. Brain challenging? Living up to my fullest potential? Could I go much further than on the path I have otherwise set myself upon? Probably. The level of uncertainty for the answers to those questions is astounding. No. I’m not saving the world, but I earn a healthy amount, and as one can probably tell, I am writing a lot more nowadays. I am thinking a whole damn lot more these days. Which is exactly where I want to be. How long it (the way I think, the way others think, societal norms, inflation, monetary stability, my mother’s wellbeing…) will last I don’t know. But I’ve been where I’ve gone. My mum always accuses me of not thinking things through. Yes and no. As regards certain things I am probably the #1 overthinker on this planet. For other things it’s exhilarating to just do. I’m contradictory. As are you. What am I trying to say? JUST DO IT, WHATEVER IT IS. Do it. Carpe that fucking diem, as they say (grammar probably wrong, and fuck that #yolo shit). Be selfish to the extent that you can (haha). For a Chinese girl this is maybe harder than most. But really. Somebody gave up their dreams so that you could have a chance at yours. Waste not, want not.
But you are not being wasted. Why do you want? (Thanks, Margaret Atwood.)
A few months ago, that would have been an unanswerable question of the universe. But alas. Things change, shit happens, paths get rejigged, the roads retrodden. Yet the majority of us plow on, content to glorify our own labours. Whatever we say, our pride spurs us on, and we all take some perverse pleasure in advertising the insane number of hours we work each day. This was me. With the introduction of normal working hours I have taken away my own right to complain.
Not everybody considers this a trade-off at all. So what do you do when you reach the Promised Land, wherever it may be? Is this a question I have asked myself before? Yes. Anything. The world is full of possibility.