working 9 to 5…. now what?

When I was in college, I never had a second of “free time.” I’d walk by Beury Beach and see kids sprawled across the grass, coffees in hand, enjoying time with their friends as they waited for their next class to start.

I’d mutter profanities under my breath as I walked past them every day, bitter as ever, because my days were scheduled down to the nanosecond. Classes – meetings – internships – work – running a firm – applying for jobs – interviews – networking events.

I was efficient. I was organized. I was a robot.

I never in a million years thought I would have missed those days. For the past four years I craved to have down time. To be able to take naps, to go out to dinner with friends, to see a late-night movie.

Now I work a 9 to 5 job (well, kind of….) and I for the most part, have a ton of free time on my hands for the first time in years.

And I HATE it!

Maybe I’ve just become conditioned to being busy over the years, but there’s something about being busy all the time that makes you feel good – like you’re really accomplishing something; always making yourself a better person.

For the first couple of months, I came home and didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d watch TV, or go see a movie…maybe read a book or paint my nails.

So, I joined a professional PR organization in the hopes of feeling more productive. And while my bank account is $100 less than before, I still have yet to go to a meeting or event because they all conflict with my job… go figure.

I threw myself into the whole wedding planning thing for a little while. I made a website, sent out bridesmaid cards, nailed down a venue, found my caterer and planned my menu…but my wedding is still more than a year away! At the rate I was going… my entire wedding would have been planned by November.

So, my newest and latest obsession? Do-it-yourself projects inspired by Pinterest. My poor fiancé has become the biggest victim in my search for self-purpose, as last night he spent hours trying to perfectly outline chevron stripes on my coffee table with masking tape. With paint and brushes and aluminum foil scattered across the floor, you would have thought you were walking in to Picasso’s studio… or probably just some deranged Pinterest-obsessed woman’s apartment (ok, definitely the latter).

The good news is that I’ve finally found SOMETHING that sticks and that I enjoy. After long, stressful days at work… I love coming home to dive in to another project. I’m able to let my inner Martha Stewart take center stage while I dive in to my newest project with Florence and the Machine or CNN playing in the background. (For a good laugh – check out http://epicpinterestfail.com/)

I’m realizing this free time doesn’t have to feel like a burden and that self-worth doesn’t come from a crammed schedule. I can use this time to do things I set out to do but never had the time for in college.

Here are just a few things I’m hoping to do over the next few months:

  • Go to cooking classes. Marinara practically runs through my veins as an Ianni, but there are so many things I’d love to learn how to do. Like make gnocchi from scratch or cook the perfect Boeuf Bourguignon – Julia Child style of course.
  • Learn how to better speak French. Whether it means enrolling in a class or getting Rosetta Stone… I want to finally start working towards becoming fluent in the language I’ve been studying on and off for more than eight years.
  • Get more involved with local groups and organizations to meet people in the area. I complain a lot about not knowing anyone down here or not having any friends, but I haven’t really taken the time to put myself out there and meet new people. I’m a very shy person during first encounters so I need to break through my shell and start making connections.

  • Explore a new part of the city every month. DC is HUGE. Sometimes it can get a little overwhelming, especially coming from Philly where I knew every street like the back of my hand. DC has so many eclectic neighbors, each with their own distinct personalities, and I want to master this city just as I mastered my last one.
  •  Do something that scares me. I think conquering fears is a healthy way to grow as a person and there’s nothing quite as rewarding as overcoming a barrier. Whether it’s running in a 5k or participating in an open mic night, I want to be able to prove to myself that nothing is impossible.

While some of these goals may take more time than others, I’m glad to have a bucket list to work off of and goals to work towards.

I think Eleanor said it best –

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

What are some of you the things you’re hoping to accomplish in the coming months?

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