I remember having a conversation with a former cellphone provider that, from his perspective, might’ve been a wee bit on the edge of crazy. It was the day I realized I couldn’t make calls back home, to PR, where my mother lives, whom I called on a daily basis because I had just recently left home and couldn’t adult properly. That poor agent (wherever you are, sir, I promise, startling you was not my intent) was not prepared for the adult having a near panic attack because she couldn’t call home. He most certainly was not.
I called, explained the situation (in my usual signature rambly way of, “Is there a reason why I can’t make calls to PR? Because I’m pretty sure I should be able to. I signed up for this because you guys provided me the thing. I don’t have the thing. I need to be able to call home. I need the thing.”) and bless, the agent (after stammering, possibly trying not to laugh) told me he’d check on that for me and see what he can do to get things going for me. Mind you, I didn’t yell at him, so he was good humored about the whole thing, but I was rambly.
When I go rambly, I resemble a five year old asking why there’s a Wa Ta in the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant.
Fun Fact: As a kid, there was this really good Chinese restaurant mom would take us to (oh, eggrolls, how I miss thee). I was a kid. I had recently watched a film involving a form of martial arts. Naturally, when I see someone that resembles an actor that does said fighting in said film, I don’t have the adult knowledge of, “Oh, hey, they look like they might be the same nationality, but this man is not a character in a film, he is the glorious cook that is going to serve me mah eggrolls.” Nope, instead, in the vocabulary of a child, I tug at my mom’s arm and say, “Mom, look, it’s a Wa Ta!” (No, I was not saying water, I was saying the sound they make when they fight. Snort.)
But all was right in the world, in the end, because they fixed what it was. Someone had accidentally removed the feature on my account. Why? Who knows. I didn’t fuss, though. Sometimes we fart and shit happens. I was just happy to have my feature back ’cause ET needs to phone home, thanksverymuch. And it’s for good reason. My mother is full of wisdom, funny moments and has an ability to prod your common sense that is absolutely epic. Granted, my common sense sometimes takes a vacation and then I get to hear the goold ol’, “I told ya so.”
I’ve stopped minding hearing the “I told you so”s, though. Masochistic as it may sound, I just smile, because it’s something I need to hear, it’s something I need to learn. I wouldn’t give that up for pride or whatever other reason people avoid being wrong. If I’m wrong, I’d rather know it, than live my life thinking I’m right, y’know? And who better to tell me than someone I care about?
There are some words of wisdom that I remember fondly, not from my mum this time, but a former boss who taught me a lot more than just her words of wisdom (…she also taught me about subject verb agreement because she was my English professor. Grammar is not easy, friends, but it is made simple when your professor is both brilliant and patient). She actually met my mother. They liked each other. I worried I was outnumbered considering they were both good at the “I told you so” trend (my common sense takes a vacation… a lot?)
My boss would often be witness to my hectic college schedule which involved: wake up, class, work, class, work, class again, homework, project, blogging, writing, sleep somewhere in there, rinse and repeat. There were times when she said, “Ani, take a break. Your boss is telling you to take a break.”
She’d ask me about my day, what I was doing (if it wasn’t something she already knew because she asked me to do it a few minutes ago) and how classes were going. One day she asked me about my out-of-work/out-of-school plans. I told her I had none. She asked when was the last time I went out (…in her book, trips to the bookstore did not count…she was my favorite boss and that’s why I didn’t shout blasphemer right then and there, mmm’kay?)
She then realized her employee didn’t have much of a social life. Sure, I had friends who, occasionally, could talk me into going somewhere, but they could only really bribe me with birthdays, which only come once a year, so, limited supply of bribes. Now, she understood that I was a bit of a hermit, understood I was perfectly content with a video game or a book, but what she didn’t fully applaud was the fact that I spent more time on work and school than any time I spent on myself.
I almost caught myself doing the math, years later (because you know I did it even after I stopped working under her. Sometimes “I told you so”s have a delayed reveal for me), thinking how much we spend working whatever job we have at the time versus getting the time to do what you enjoy, and that’s when I understood something my then boss told me (something she probably saw/read somewhere).
Work to live, don’t live to work.
Delayed “I told you so” indeed. I used to once work in an environment that, not only took over forty hours a week of my life that I couldn’t get back, but I’d stress about the job, I couldn’t eat lunch because I was so stressed. It was so toxic that even a raise and a promotion wrapped in a hug didn’t save the situation.
Sometimes, you have to ask yourself, is this really my only choice? Do I really have to make myself sit through misery with a smile stapled on my face because I have absolutely no other choice? And really think about it, clear the cobwebs of your mind and identify fear as what it is, an obstacle, but it’s not a wall. There’s no such thing as a room with no doors – well, there might be, if a person sits and waits as someone builds the walls around them.
I found another choice. It wasn’t easy. I was unemployed for some months, but I got lucky. I wasn’t alone. I had my sweetie, who was very supportive (and relieved when I stopped being so bitter and miserable at the end of every work day) throughout the whole ordeal. It’s been, possibly, close to three years since that time? I’m glad for it, though. It was a change I didn’t know I needed.
Things have improved a whole lot since then and I finally have the ability to work to live, rather than the other way around. Although I do work from home, I don’t take my work with me. The best thing I found that helps, my work computer is solely for work, and I have my Chromebook for writing, or my desktop, if I don’t mind being in the office. Where I do my writing helps me differentiate what I’m doing it for: for work or for me.
It’s a small thing, but it makes all the difference.