I’ve been out of the workforce for about a year, and while it feels beyond awesome to have 24 hours of the day all to myself, there’s a nagging condition that envelops me whenever I’m visited by images of what life was like when I was part of the New York City jungle fest.
No matter how much I try to suppress the deep layers that are fighting for air, the time has come for me to accept the fact that I miss the 9 to 5 grind.
I don’t miss the shitty job at a private bank, that positioned me in the prime slot of being the corporate slave, who has to support the head of the team as well as his sub-team for the reward of zero bonuses and deferred raises.
But I do yearn for the benefits of the momentum, that groomed me with the tools we all rely on for a disciplined existence.
When you’re caught up in the very demanding role of juggling a day job and the passionate pursuit of a writing career that you’re certain will overtake the shitty title of “executive assistant” in the near future, there’s a level of precision and efficiency that naturally develops.
As much as I hated where I spent majority of my time during the work week, that mandatory daily practice was the catalyst for how I successfully attacked all the pending items that were linked by the need to make a living, and the desire to keep my longterm goals alive.
At the time it seemed like a pain, but now that I’m jobless with nowhere to go except the local library and the nearby eateries with free tables and wifi, I totally yearn for the strict schedule that involved rising at 5 am, getting dressed in gym clothes, packing the ensemble I would wear for the work day, and then heading to the subway to catch the 6 train headed to midtown.
My 45-minute workout before 8 am always fueled me with the energy required to make the mornings tolerable, and as the day unfolded, the notion of being overworked and grossly underpaid, paled in comparison to the security of being able to churn out drafts of essays — that would be finessed on the couch in the high-priced Upper East Side studio — that stood as the testament of what a thankless bank job can accrue.
The methodical adherence to “the grind” sounds hellish in theory, and living in the city that literally ate me alive before shitting me out in smelly bits, seems even more nauseating. But I can’t downplay how much more purposeful and accomplished I felt, keeping up with a demanding schedule and rarely dropping the ball — both professionally and personally.
Perhaps, the main incentive was the connection to a future that I had envisioned, and how it would play out to perfection once my accumulated writing clips were ripe enough to win me the gig of a lifetime.
The key to faithfully honoring your commitments lies in the promise of better tomorrows, and the pure belief system that should be embedded in yearly progressions of the industry of your choice, that won’t fail you when all is said and done.
But the editorial market is currently in a steep fall from grace as massive layoffs and the rejection of robustly delivered content, that informs without showcasing gaping holes in reporting — converge to expose how a once-reliable station rapidly turned against itself in an effort to keep up with the trends by deceitfully wooing the masses.
All that hard work and sacrifice yielded nothing more than the last frighteningly discouraging assignment that had me shoveling heaps of recycled content into designated folders, for the watchful eyes of homepage editors, who arranged them differently every time with the accuracy of waste collectors.
It sickened me to be a paid enabler of a toxic process that celebrated everything I abhor about the current state of affairs, and like the writer I am, I was destined to express my woes in a essay.
The piece went viral as they say, and evidently your employers keep a close eye on your after work activities. I found out the hard way when I was contacted by my job agency and asked to take down my damning testimony to avoid legal complications.
I take full responsibility for mistakenly revealing names and stuff, but it’s ironic that out of the two essays — it was the one that alluded to the job duties without the pertinent info about the company that absolutely had to be removed.
But I digress, this isn’t about a diseased work force that takes pleasure in temporary hires and maintaining the cycle of investing as little as possible to eager workers who want nothing more than to be paid for the work they do.
It’s about the loss of ambition, and how feeling robbed of the opportunities that you thought were available when you were in hustle mode, inevitably reshape your trajectory, which challenges you to reorganize and redefine the codes of your navigation in a suddenly rigid terrain.
While I struggle to convince myself that my fate doesn’t end with the $25 an hour, six-month editing job, that will definitely be over by the three month mark, I have to get back to the expert multitasker, who rose at dawn and went to sleep around midnight, with the contentment of being ahead of the curve — thanks to the generated energy that’s supplied by the diligence of the grind.
You never miss the job, you just wish you could be part of the competition that matches you against invisible bodies that are just as capable and even hungrier for the thrill of steadily rising to the occasion, until the timer goes off and you’re thankfully exactly where you need to be.
I will never be that person again, and while I mourn her, there’s the immense gratitude for the period that I got to enjoy her enviable moves — from executive assistant to the writer that’s still faithful to the words that haven’t let her down — yet.
It’s a different kind of “grind,” and while the pace has slowed down considerably, I am open for a future challenge.
We just never stop.