The inevitable question when meeting someone new is “what do you do?” It is a given in our society that this question is meant to address what we do for a living. I’m not real sure how we got to the point that our work is how we define ourselves, but here we are. It’s how our society defines us.
When I get that question I tell people that I work part-time. Then, when I explain the different ways I spend my life, I almost always get one of two reactions: either, “Wow, it must be nice to not have to work full-time,” or “Wow, you’re so busy how do you keep up?” Both of these reactions are two sides of the same coin.
Basically what people are expressing is their confusion by my lack of a conventional career. Our society no longer knows how to react to someone who has removed themselves from the constrictions of a regular 9 to 5 (or longer) work day. People struggle to wrap their head around the decisions I have made and continue to make on a daily basis.
To those who envy my lack of a predictable daily schedule, I have to point out I am constantly going. I do not work full-time, but I am usually going from 8:30 in the morning to 8:30 at night. I currently have four personal training clients and I teach 13 fitness classes a week. When I am not working in those capacities, I am devoting time to painting, writing, or trying to get my creative work out there for people to enjoy and hopefully spend some of their hard-earned treasure on.
If I am not in the studio working each day, I am at home submitting art to various galleries. If I am not actively writing each day, I am submitting my work to publishers and agents in the hopes of getting some of my writing published. In my “spare” time I am usually mulling over my next project. I can’t even begin to count the number of sleepless nights I’ve had as I tried to problem solve a creative project in my head.
Every day is different than the day before. When I open my eyes in the morning, the first question I ask myself is “What day is it?” I then have to review everywhere I have to be and when. I consider myself blessed that I have rarely ended up going the wrong place on the wrong day.
To those who can’t believe how busy I am, I have to point out that I get to do something I love every day of my life. My clients and my class members are friends who I look forward to seeing each day. We see each other for short periods of time so the politics and agendas that tend to overwhelm me in a corporate setting just aren’t an issue.
I love the time I get to spend being creative each day. Having a painting or a written piece come to fruition before my very eyes is something that excites me every time. Are my projects always successful? Hell, no. I have had some abysmal failures. But I learn something new with every project I take on whether I like the results or not.
Because of my long days, I have not done as much cooking in my life as others. I like eating out and have no problems eating out alone. If I don’t feel like eating alone, I am blessed with an army of friends. There’s almost always someone I can talk into meeting me out for a bite and a cocktail.
With my schedule, I am rarely home before 8:30 or 9:00 at night. While I have no problem sitting down and watching the television when I get home, I usually only watch one or two programs before it’s time to head to bed and read for a while. My lack of television time also seems to cause consternation for some. There’s no snobbery or superiority in not watching more tv, there just isn’t time.
No matter how other people perceive the way I live my life, I am extremely happy with my choices. The one thing I cannot conceive of is going back to working 9-5 for someone else’s success. I joyfully celebrate my ability to live my life with an active schedule that is of my own choosing.