with Mir Kamin
I'm a freelance writer and mother of two working from home, which theoretically means I can set my own schedule so as to best accommodate my family. In reality, "flexible hours" often equals "working too much." Yes, I'm my own boss; no, that doesn't mean life is easy. It's hard to leave the office when you live there. But I love what I do and feel very lucky. And not just because I get paid to work in my pajamas.
To learn more about Mir, check out her profile on Work It, Mom! or visit her blog at http://www.wouldashoulda.com/
When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and be an actress. There was nothing I loved better than being on stage, no feeling headier than transforming into someone else and performing.
Now’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you that then I turned six (or ten or eighteen) and grew up and realized that was dumb, but that’s not how it went, for me. I actually got a degree in theater performance in college, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized I was just not cut out for a life in performance. For one thing, although there’s certainly nothing wrong with the way I look, when surrounded by so many truly stunning actresses, I came to realize that even if I was the better performer, I would be passed over for someone more attractive most of the time. For another, the life of an actor isn’t terribly conducive to what I’d consider “family life.” And so… I found other dreams. More specifically, I started working on the eternal juggle of personal vs. career goals.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ve had awesome jobs that were murder on my personal life, and I’ve had crummy jobs that allowed for improved personal/family life but were murder on my self-esteem. I don’t know that there’s a perfect balance, anywhere.
For me, working from home, writing, having some projects which are entirely my own and others which are work for clients… well, I think I’ve hit a very nice balance, here. Most of the time, I have the time my family needs from me. Most of the time, I make a decent living. Most of the time, I feel good about what I do. Most of the time, I enjoy my job, and feel very grateful to have found myself here after a half-dozen other careers that didn’t suit me nearly so well. I’m somewhat ashamed to admit this—at the ripe old age of 38—but I am coming up on five years of considering myself a professional writer, and this is the longest I’ve stayed at a job. Really. That’s… well, I’m not sure what that is.
Anyway. That’s not to say that life is perfect or that there’s never room for change and/or improvement. I still struggle to find balance, both between work and family, and even between work I love and work I do because it’s Good For Me. (Good For Me would include any or all of the following: It’s good money, it’s a potential stepping stone to something else I’d like to do, it’s a good political move, it’s something I think I should probably learn, or it’s something I kind of hate but can think of several reasons why I will be glad later on that I did it.) It’s a balancing act, constantly.
I am very much a here-and-now sort of person. It’s not that I’m incapable of planning; I do, all the time, on a small scale. But occasionally someone (usually my husband, but sometimes a client) will say to me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and I’m stymied. I end up stammering something about how I’ll hopefully be doing more of what I’m doing now—because what I’m doing now is fun, frankly—but it feels lame.
I wonder where the sweet spot is between ambition and gratitude.
While it’s wonderful to be happy where I am, I do sometimes worry I’m sort of losing my passion if I’m not looking towards the next brass ring, you know? But then on the heels of that, I feel like always looking to the next thing necessarily cuts into the appreciation of what’s right in front of me. And don’t even get me started on the whole matter of whether dreaming about a world where I never do a job I don’t 100% love not only feels ridiculous (because, hello, that’s called life, sometimes doing things we don’t love), but kind of immature, too. And I know that money is terribly motivating for a lot of people, but given that I live pretty frugally, even the “but I could earn so much more if” angle doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I mean, sure, I enjoy having money. But once I’ve passed the point of having enough (and for me, enough is possibly quite a bit less than for others), it doesn’t drive me.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s hardly a crisis. On the other hand, I don’t want to wake up one day and discover that I’m just going through the motions.
I’ve just started working on a new project with some friends (details forthcoming in a few weeks) that’s just for fun and motivation. Not money. Not “visibility.” It’s just about getting us psyched, together, to do better. I probably don’t really have the time; I probably ought to be investing that time in something that results in pay. But I don’t care. I think it’ll be good for me; a little kick-start to the brain, if you will. It’s going to help me remember what drives me. I’m excited.
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