succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Work work work

I don't really think of myself as a workaholic. Sure, I talked about my workaholic tendencies when considering whether or not this was the job for me, but that was more due to a) my past 11 years spent in college/grad school, wherein one doesn't keep anything resembling a standard work schedule, and b) my Dad's obvious workaholic tendencies. The former meant I was concerned that my habits of working odd hours could easily prevent me from noticing that I was working too many hours. As for the latter, I have no idea if workaholism is genetic, but it's pretty clear to me that if Dad didn't have a family to come home to, he would work a lot more than he already does. And, oh look, no family for me to come home to, so why not spend a few more hours at the office?

I also pay lip service to the whole idea of work-life balance. I even, in a perhaps not-terribly-professionally-savvy moment, declared to my boss that I wasn't going to work perpetually ratcheted up to a 15 (on a hypothetical scale from 1 to 10 of time and effort at the office; this was following a particularly strenuous two weeks screaming toward deadlines). I don't buy into that martyr crap of comparing many hours you spend at the office, how late you stay, sending e-mails at all hours, etc. etc. etc. To me all that says is that you're an inefficient worker. Get your shit done and go home and get some rest.

But on the other hand, I do find myself working. A lot. What feels like even more than I did in grad school. Certainly some of that is stemming from all the loose ends I have left to tie up - I've been doing a relatively good job of keeping Work stuff limited mostly to M-F (there's a bit of bleed-through with e-mail and vaguely-related internet-reading, but nothing that feels particularly tiring or stressful) but I still spend about half my weekend time editing articles resulting from my dissertation and reviewing articles for other journals. I know, this is part of being a contributing member of my professional society, and I'm (mostly) happy to do it. But it leaves me feeling like there's never any break. In grad school, after a particularly exhausting sprint to finish some project, I would quite intentionally blow off a few days. The last time I spent an entire day not thinking about stats was January 1. That's a lot of consecutive days of heavy mental lifting.

So there's that. I obviously need to get a bit better at taking breaks that last longer than a few hours. And I obviously do have more workaholic tendencies than I care to admit.

But the other thing I was thinking yesterday is that this is my career. This is what I invested 11 years of higher education to get to. Do I want to have a life outside of work? Yes. Right now, at this moment, am I more likely to blow off a social event in favor of getting work done? Absolutely. And that makes sense to me. It matters more to me to get a publication out or figure out a problem or do a bit of networking than to check out that new bar or put in an appearance at that party. Perhaps this is the road to hell, perhaps this is how people wake up at 40 totally burned out. But right now I just want to drink up every second of professional opportunity that comes my way.

This isn't a job. This isn't how I pay my bills. It also doesn't entirely define who I am, but it is a huge part of how I define myself. I don't think I could do it any other way.