Loving What You Do

I love what I do.

I realize that I’m rather fortunate in this regard. I watch so many people leave for work in the morning, cup of coffee clutched in one hand and car keys in the other, with that indifferently bored look. They come home miserable and grouchy with no energy for anything but the television, which they spend the evening planted before with dead eyes until their significant others come and drag them away to sleep, which in itself becomes an escape from the stress of the day past and dread for the next.

I’m a student. Not even twenty yet, with a good idea of what I’d like to make of my life and enough understanding of myself to know that that may change at any given time. I love to study. I love my field of study. I love my morning rituals of breakfast alone and coffee on the morning commute to school or work. I love the feeling of having spent a day working my mind. And I know I’m lucky, because I’ve found something I absolutely adore and would study regardless of wether or not I’m in a classroom at that given moment. Many of my friends and classmates dislike school – they see it as a means to an end. A degree leading to a job. Ideally, a well-paying job.

I hope that they love the job they end up getting. I decided (not so long ago) that my happiness was my first priority. I can’t guarantee that I’ll be well-paid, or that there’s even a job waiting for me at the end of this weird major + specialization of a degree I’m getting, but I know that I won’t settle (long term) for anything less than a job that I love. Money won’t make me happy; beyond meeting basic needs, such as shelter and food, acquisition feels almost anti-climactic. The working towards a goal feels much more fulfilling than the rewards of that goal itself. The latter is much more of a fleeting sense of accomplishment, followed by a let down period.

I don’t want to be one of those people who wake up and dread going to work. I want to really love what I do. I want to make sure I have time for the things I love, be that travel, spending time in coffee shops, making fancy meals, reading a good book, playing games with family, skating on the lake, hiking in the wilderness, camping, practicing the piano, going berry picking, writing. I want to have the time to give back to the community and spend time with my loved ones – I want time for myself, time for reflection and time for thanks. I don’t want to spend too much of my time stuck in my head (though I never want to stop thinking) or regretting the things I haven’t done.

Basically, I want to continue to love what I do, no matter where I’m at in my life. This is a gentle reminder to myself to slow down and make sure that I’m still prioritizing my happiness. When I’m happy, I can better help others to be happier, and things tend to fall into place.

Priorities and Time

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, organic chemistry lab book open on top of my biochemistry lab book, which is (as of yet) unopen. I have work to do – midterms to study for, lab reports to write up (as evidenced), a room to clean. My dishes from breakfast are undone in the sink. I need to do groceries. I’d like to go for a run. At least the laundry’s done.

A few more minutes tick away, and I’m no further along. I’m bored – the mechanism of a heartbeat is too wordy, information on organocopper synthesis from alkynes too scant, and for some reason I’m still stalling on the research I need to do on G75, a gel-filtration chromatography matrix – and being bored is one of the worst things in the world. I feel like I have the entire day to work (a rare happening courtesy of a day off my schedules part-time job), and that much unstructured time has me sitting unproductively, to say the least.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who stares down into the abyss of a seemingly endless amount of time and feels that there’s both entirely too much of it and, paradoxically, not enough of it at all. In a morning, ideally, I’d wake up, meditate, have breakfast, get dressed, wash my face, do my makeup, make my bed, make a plan for the day, and head out. I’ve done two of those things thus far.

These are little things – trivial, but they make me feel grounded. Right now, I don’t feel too grounded. In my attempt to get to the pressing matters, I let those little things go for a time. I think it’s time to re-prioritize them, because I can guarantee that I could have taken that half hour to do all those things and be just as – if not more – far along in the work I need to do. 

It’s finding – or making – the time. Accepting that maybe, just maybe, there isn’t time. Not for everything. I can’t always be a sister-friend-girlfriend-athlete-student-employee-volunteer. Not all of those things all at once, anyways. I could study everything I’m interested in, get degrees in kinesiology and biochemistry and modern languages and concert piano, but then I’d never develop a career – and that’s something I want more than just about anything right now. The building of a career is what gets me up at six in the morning to rush off to school and study; it’s what keeps me reading my textbooks on the long bus rides home and working on my assignments until the small hours of the morning, only to finally crawl exhausted into bed to another night of too little sleep. Rinse, repeat.

I love it, I really do – this mayhem and madness and the building of stress and the inevitable relief of the coming down, the rare mornings such as this one where I can sleep in to my leisure (7:45!) and enjoy a quiet breakfast alone over my (mostly untouched) lab assignments before my family wakes up and the day begins in earnest.

I don’t have time to do everything. I’m still trying to find the right balance of work-play-quiet – at the moment, the whole thing is heavily skewed toward the “work” aspect, but that’s student life de facto. Today, I’ll finish my two lab reports and hopefully have a much better understanding of the cardiovascular system – and tomorrow, a new day begins.