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The Pendulum

May 12, 2010

The Story
Last week, I gave my two weeks’ notice at the coffeeshop. For those of you keeping track at home, this is the second time I’ve given my two weeks’ there. Remember how I did the same in January to pursue freelance writing and a part-time position with one of my besties at a tea shop? Well, long story short, the tea shop position fell through and freelancing wasn’t even scratching the surface of paying the bills, so I stuck it out at the coffeeshop part-time for five more months. In the meantime, I picked up 25 hours a week serving at a little Italian restaurant.

The Schedule
For nearly four months I’ve been working my balls off. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the coffeeshop from 5:30am to 2:00pm, Thursdays off, and Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at the restaurant. Recently I’ve been doing back-to-back doubles at the restaurant, meaning I’d be working from 10:45am to 10:00pm at the earliest. I’d run all my errands on Thursday and coax my body into not being sore and tired, though, inevitably it always was.

The Aftermath
My body hurts. My soul hurts. My feet ache, my calves are perpetually tight, my hands are sore, I haven’t seen my friends in ages, and I just feel ugly — inside and out. I haven’t been taking care of myself and I don’t have the energy to take care of my house and my husband and my life. My house is in disarray from the two floods we incurred in two months and my cat just puked on my nice comforter. I’m a hot mess.

The Deal
But this is what I do. This is how I cope. This is exactly the pace I’ve set for myself my entire life. I go go go go go until I crash and burn. It’s all or nothing for me. If I’m not working my ass off 60+ hours a week, I don’t feel like I’m holding up my end of the bargain… but I constantly find myself at the end of my rope after burning my candle at both ends for far too long. It’s just what I do. Balls to the walls. Head down, barrel through, no one to blame but myself. It’s obvious I suck at balance. I don’t know what it is, how it feels, or what it looks like. I feel guilty when I take too much time for me. And “too much time” usually translates into “any time at all.” But I’m tired of feeling shitty, looking shitty, and being shitty to everyone I encounter.

The Pendulum
I call this the pendulum effect. I swing so far to the side of overworked and I hang there like one of those pirate ships at an amusement park. When I get relief, the chance to swing back, I sit on my ass, eat Pizza Rolls, wallow in self-pity, and feel like a total loser. There’s no grey area in the way I encounter life. All or nothing, baby, and dear god it’s exhausting.

So I quit one of my jobs. And I’ll just get used to working weekends. And you better believe I’m going to make the most of my time off, because you don’t know what free time is like until you completely deprive yourself of it.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 1:16 pm

    So glad you’re taking the time to reflect on what you need to do; sometimes knowing that we lives our lives unbalanced (I know I sure do) is half the battle.

    I completely understand where you are right now; I just had a mini crash & burn the other night myself. I think the big one has yet to come, but hopefully it will be well before next weekend 😉

  2. May 12, 2010 2:06 pm

    I totally get where you are coming from on this. I recently have been doing the same thing by working full time and finishing grad school…and now I have an anxious feeling after graduation because I am not over worked for once. I am learning to deal with it…trying to relax, but I agree that when you are so used to working hard, relaxation can feel like lazy. I am trying to limit TV time and do something constructive like read or knit, it is helping me to feel more productive.

  3. May 12, 2010 4:17 pm

    I felt the same way when I had 2 jobs. Thankfully I was able to quit one as well and it’s made all the difference!

  4. May 12, 2010 6:28 pm

    I’ve been putting myself through a similar sort of ringer for the past few years now, being a full time student and part time worker for what seems like forever. And I last through the semester and by the time it’s over, BAM, I feel dead and need a good few weeks to get back to ‘normal.’ I’m so looking forward to never doing this to myself again, but who knows if I can get away with that.

  5. May 12, 2010 8:20 pm

    You’re trying to do so much–I’m glad you know when enough is enough for your sanity and health.

  6. May 12, 2010 8:21 pm

    I’m sl glad that you’re leaving that place! It just hasn’t been good to you! I hope that you find a balance between your work ethic and a workplace that will treat you ethically soon- you’re an amazing person and this bad work situation stuff can’t last. You’re too good for it!

  7. May 12, 2010 8:57 pm

    homey i know how you feel. I make time for friends on weeknights after working 7-12 hour days on my feet. I’ve been working weekends to make up for the fact that I was in my best friends wedding and i’m going home to see my family for the first time since January and I just offered to work late next week for a coworker on my husbands birthday. I’m exhausted. I don’t do 60+ hours but dude any job that has you working 6+ hours on your feet deserves a massive round of applause. You are my hero seriously but even hero’s need a break ❤ take care of yourself gal, you deserve it more than you know. xox

  8. May 12, 2010 11:47 pm

    Totally. I felt like this since I was in college up until I was laid off last year. I was forced to slow down then because even though I frantically looked for other jobs, nothing came through. Now I’m on the Mary Kay boat and love the pace I can finally set for myself.

  9. May 13, 2010 12:33 am

    Wow… I remember those days. I used to have two full time jobs, worked 7 days a week, and did that for about 8 months. The relief I felt when I quit one of those jobs was amazing! Good for you and enjoy the time off! You deserve it!

  10. May 13, 2010 7:29 am

    I hope you’re able to enjoy your “me time.” I, too, have problems with feeling guilty whenever I take any time to myself. I’m trying to make a point to spend at least one day a month away from everyone and just be.

  11. May 13, 2010 7:29 pm

    I’m glad that you had the chance to take a step back and figure out what you wanted. Changes are good like this, and I am completely the same way as you. I always have to be working and taking care of business or I feel like I’m not doing anything… Not that it’s a bad habit, but we both have to realize at some point that enough is enough.

    Proud of you, lady, and I cannot wait to see you!

  12. May 17, 2010 5:37 pm

    I have been there. I worked two jobs all the way through college, and still work two jobs, even though they’re both part time. There was a few months in college where I worked 3 jobs, went to school full time, and tried to keep up with my friends, and most of them didn’t even work one part time job.

    It sucks so much to reach the “end of your rope”. And it sucks to feel as if you’re not holding your end of the bargain if you’re not working like that. I despise that feeling. You’ll find a way to get balance eventually. But for people who are used to working like that, it takes time to not feel guilty about “free time”.

    I am so glad that you’ve quit your coffee shop, especially since it made you so unhappy. I hope your time off is beautiful!


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