I did not know what the title to this would be. I just know that for a while, I had been reflecting on a post I recently saw again on Facebook.
“You were not born to just go to work, pay bills, and die.”
When I first read this, or something similar to this a few years ago, and again recently, I wholeheartedly agreed. I felt powerless because that is how my life appeared to be. Work all week, pay bills, weekend off, rinse and repeat. I felt like I was a sheep. You know, part of the herd going to work each day, the endless routine. I did not feel free. I resisted the whole thing. I was grateful for my job, of course. I tried to accept the situation. However, I felt like I was stuck in a rut. Did I really want to do this for the rest of my life until retirement? Then my thoughts would be about the future, wondering about what retirement would look like. I would feel stressed out about having enough to retire on.
I had thoughts like “I feel trapped.” “I do not have money to open my own business.” “What is it that I love to do?” “What do I want to do every day?” “I do not want to be a sheep, I hate that idea.” “I hate routine, I hate not being able to pick up and go as I please.” I felt like a puppet. A lot of hate and resistance in general. Dislike might be more accurate.
I thought about all the things I disliked about my work; what I perceived to be nitpicking over choices of words in a report. The procedures we had to follow. The stuff I felt was nonsense over aspects I thought were the point of a project – adding value to the client. Theory versus the real world was something I had a hard time reconciling. I felt disdain for people who religiously followed theory and focused on details I felt were insignificant. I often asked myself, “why am I doing this?” “I went to University for this?”
Over time, being accountable for everything in my life has been my goal. Yes. So I reflect……
I did purposely choose with intent, to go back to school and get a degree. I was “just a waitress” (what I had been told and believed) at the time and I suppose I was not happy with that because I believed that “waitressing” was not good enough. Clients and people in general looked down on me, or so I believed, and I felt like I was “less than”. I desperately sought stability and security for myself and my daughter. I wanted to be self-sufficient and a “professional.” In those days, for me, that meant being lawyer. In order to do that I would need a bachelor’s degree and then law school and then I would have to pass the bar exam. In University, I started to realize that I would have to intern in a law firm, if I was lucky enough to get a position in one, and work on cases I might not agree with. I soon realized it would not be for me. I would not have been able to pick and choose cases or refuse those I found unacceptable to defend. Plan B was accounting. A professor had said “choose something you find easier to do.” Apparently this was an indication of a career that would be a good fit for me. Psychology would have taken too long as this profession required a doctorate, and I could not see myself, at my age, going through all that for a profession, even if I did enjoy psychology. So accounting it was. I always earned good grades with little effort in accounting and finance classes as well. Then I learned about the Chartered Accountancy title. It was the most difficult to obtain in that profession at the time. I decided to choose that. With deliberate intent and choice, I chose my profession. The motivation may have been stability and security in as little time as possible, but it was definitely not easy. People warned me of how difficult it would be, the grades I would not be able to get at McGill, and the exam I would not be able to pass in my “situation.” With every comment, I felt more determined.
I did not realize at the time, that I would be asking myself “why?” later in life. I had decided on my goal and I went for it with all the determination and perseverance I had in me. As a single mom I worked, went to school, studied, paid my bills and took care of my daughter. My grades were not the highest but they were good enough to get me into one of the big four accounting firms. Perfect. Stability, security and a respected firm. I felt like I had succeeded. By all accounts and outward appearances, I had. My parents were proud. I no longer had to work weekends or Christmas Eve. A huge point of contention for me. I detested restaurant hours during Christmas. I remember the Maître D at the restaurant had told me “If you don’t like the hours, leave.” Or something to that effect. I was insulted. Yes, I chose the restaurant, so I had to either do the hours, or leave. I hated it back then, but it was the truth. The money I earned was very good during Christmas too…………
I now go to work during the weekdays, have weekends off and vacations. I get all the Christmas holidays off. Ironic that I have issues with my career that I invested so much time and effort to achieve. Even more ironic is that I sometimes find myself remembering the restaurant days with fondness. I realize how flexible the owners were with my hours, for example, on the night before an exam. I appreciated that then, but I feel more aware of it now. Was there was more time and freedom? Could I really be thinking these thoughts? Is it true?
The simple definition of perspective is: a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view. Now for the other side, because, there are always two sides and I decided I wanted to be happy in 2017, so it stands to reason, some reflection on this conundrum is necessary for me.
No, I do not want to just work, pay bills and die. So how can I reconcile how I feel about this statement with my reality and feel good?
Do I really only work and pay bills? If so is that really bad?
Yes I do work and I do pay bills. I pay for the roof over my head, in an area I love. I have a simple apartment, because I prefer that right now (more money to travel ). So then, perhaps I should appreciate where I live. If I pay rent for a place I enjoy, that is a good thing. Agreed.
I pay bills for electricity, which I am fortunate to have, in addition to the internet and entertainment like Netflix and my phone. I receive a service, and in return I pay a fee for said services. Is that not something to appreciate? I can be warm or cool depending on the weather and I can be entertained at home, with no commercials. I can make or receive calls and texts, use GPS and all kinds of applications (some more useful than others) and take pictures with my phone. I think it is reasonable to conclude that this is also something to be thankful for.
Other bills include insurance. Alright, I have heard all the nasty stories about what insurance companies have done to certain people. I have not experienced this. So while it is not my problem personally, apparently it is a problem. Agreed. However, should I resent paying for insurance for my car, when this would protect me and/or others in the future, should something happen? In addition, if I do not pay, I could get a hefty fine. I think it is my responsibility to take care of my car, therefore, I cannot argue with the insurance, license and plate fees. If I do not like that, I can stop driving or pay the hefty fines and risk losing my car. I am neutral on this one. I think I choose to appreciate my car, and in this instance, follow the law.
Food and etc.: – I am thankful I have money to buy food and provide for my family.
Vacations: – I have money to travel. I love to travel, especially to Ireland, beaches and the ocean. No contest on that one.
I have time on evenings and weekends to see my family, if I choose, relax, if I choose, go out and explore, if I choose, take ballet class, if I choose, babysit my grandson, if I choose, and so it goes. I have always wanted to be self-sufficient, independent and a good provider for my daughter. Well, I have my wish. Perhaps I could be thankful for that instead of complaining about my work that makes it possible for me to do so? Agreed.
So do I really only work, pay bills and die? Does it really matter what I do for a living? It is looking like not really or it depends on my perspective:
Alright then. Perspective:
My work – all of my little annoyances about what is involved left out a few things. The people I work with are good people. I do not have office conflicts or mean girls in my office. We have a good team. They are highly intelligent people, who over time, have given me their time and their knowledge to the best of their ability. I feel supported at work. I feel appreciated at work. I love my clients. I do not work for the same company, doing the same thing, day in, day out. I have been fortunate to travel because of my work. I have been given many challenges and opportunities at work. I consult and I do provide value for my clients; actually our team does. I have learned how to manage people and I am still learning. I am learning many intangible elements at my work. I also realize that the exact same things apply to my previous job, “waitressing.” (ok, maybe I did not love all the clients, but I remember many that I did) In the end there is little difference and the titles matter not. I was fortunate back then and I am now.
Do I really only work, pay bills and die? I work, yes. But I also converse with people, I share, I laugh, I cry, I smile, I see. I shop at fresh produce markets, I do errands for my family when I can. I spend time with my family and friends. I play with my little ones. I dance, I walk, I explore, and I travel. I rest. I relax. I eat out. I swim, I walk on the beach when I can. I take ferries when I can. I read. I write. I take pictures, I appreciate, I experience, I love, I hate, I forgive, I let go, I am grateful, I appreciate, I live, I be. I am fully alive and healthy.
Do I really only work, pay bills and die? I realize today, the answer is – No, although it all depends on how I choose to look at it. I can complain about how I feel trapped, in a rut or not free to pick up and go OR
I can look at my life in a more positive light. I have a family I can provide for. I have a roof over my head, in an area that I love, close to a canal and green spaces in abundance, free clean drinking water, various modes of transport and I do have time to travel. I do have work that has many aspects I enjoy. If I choose, I can make time for whatever I want. It really is a state of mind. My state of mind is my responsibility. Again, perspective comes to mind.
Is anything perfect? Maybe, maybe not, but it is all in what I choose to focus on. Perspective. Yet again, the old adage is true – look for things to appreciate and happiness is yours, in spades. Is it true that perspective creates reality? This reflection business is really helpful. It leads to rampages of appreciation about aspects of my life I can sometimes find annoying or resist. Being accountable and taking the time to reflect, leads me to become aware of my choices. I am free to make my choices, I always have been. Who knows what I will choose to do next? I think my decision will be more inspired in a state of appreciation than in a state of resistance.
I can choose to find all the things wrong with my society and how things “are” or I can choose to find nuggets to appreciate in how things “are”. And in the end, if I don’t like it I can change it. I have before. That statement that had insulted me so long ago, was a lesson. A wonderful lesson. It starts with me.
It also helps that I live in a country, province and city where many things are possible. Another aspect to appreciate. I am thankful I finally took the time to write this out and reflect. Today is another day with many experiences to live. I can be thankful for that too. Life is a gift. So no, I do not just work, pay bills and ………………………….. The choice is mine, I choose to appreciate living and experiencing. Perspective. That is what it is, and the title to this blog post.
I hope everyone has a good day with experiences that bring them joy.