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I read a quote a while back in a New York Times article, which I read while drinking my morning coffee because I’m posh. The guy quoted is named Joel Pavelsky, he’s 27, and he works for a media company called Mic. His quote resonates with me still, months after first encountering it:
“Maybe this is because I’m young, but, like, I don’t think that there is a lot about my personal life that I wouldn’t want to incorporate into what I’m doing professionally.”
Spoken like a true millennial! What Joel is saying is that he enjoys his personal life so much, and values his work so highly, that he wants to bring them together in a way previously unheard of. Home and work are supposed to be separate, or so we’re told.
The expectation that I need to be professional at work and “off the clock” at home simply is not realistic. Being a teacher, among so many other careers today, requires you to spend working hours off the clock just to meet deadlines and ensure quality products. Many times I have found myself lesson planning in the car on the way to an event, because what else am I supposed to do while driving? These hours seem to eat up all of my free time, and many nights (pretty much all nights) I feel like I come home from work just to work more. The thing is, though, this is fine with me. I willingly chose a career that would require my full attention not from 9-5, but almost always. In fact, most people I know who have fulfilling jobs would say the same.
It isn’t all bad, because on the flip side of this, I get to take my personal life and fuse it into my work life. I make videos for my students because I like editing videos, and I like giving my students those resources that they can use whenever they need. I run a teacher twitter account because I love social media, and it’s the best way to interact with my students outside of school. I work my personal brand into my classroom and use that to my advantage. I hang posters from my college dorm room in my classroom because let’s be honest, I spend more time at work than at home, and my Beetlejuice poster demands an audience.
Taking elements of my personal life and placing them into my work life simply makes work better. I love my job, but it’s extremely difficult. Motivation doesn’t always come easy, but the more I frame my work around the things I personally love to do, the easier it becomes. Because when I have a constant rotation of 50-100 papers to grade on my desk, I don’t have time to waste. If my personal time is consumed by my work life, there is no keeping personal and work separate. Crafting my work through the lens of the things I love makes what I produce better for me, for my audience, and for my workplace. Maybe I’m approaching this as if it’s an entirely new concept when in reality it’s something people have been doing forever. In my world, though, it feels like all men are islands, and work is strictly for the mainland.
My advice to you (because this entire newsletter is just a way for me to offer unsolicited advice) is to find something that makes you happy in your personal life. Find something that you constantly turn to when you have time off, or when you need to blow off steam. Take that something, and think about why you like it. What does it do for you? What makes it that thing in your life? Now think about how you can feel that same way with your work. WHAT! Enjoy work?! Yes! If you stop treating work like a means to an end and start treating it like an opportunity for personal growth and improvement, you may actually find worth in what you’re doing. If you find yourself currently saying “there’s no way my job can benefit me!” then girl, you’re wasting your time. Find a job that works for you, a job that can give you more than a paycheck.
I am not saying find a job that makes you bring more work home. I'm saying find a job that allows you to bring more of yourself to it.
You can do it. Your job consumes too much of your life to simply be a means to an end.