3 Tips For Being Happily Married To Your Job
11.22.16 | JORDAN SOMER
I found my life’s work when I was thirteen-years-young. An enthusiastically confident tween with my sights set on being a leader in some capacity, I established a pageant for girls with disabilities in my community after volunteering with the Special Olympics...
I came up with the name “Miss Amazing” while brainstorming in my Lizzie McGuire journal, and that’s where it all began. In my senior year of high school, Teen Nickelodeon honored me with the Teen Nick HALO Award for my work with Miss Amazing and introduced the program to millions of viewers across the world. Going into my Freshman year at NYU, I was establishing Miss Amazing as a nonprofit, interviewing hundreds of people who wanted to bring Miss Amazing to their communities, and staring starry-eyed at my new surroundings at the same time. (I’m originally from Omaha, Nebraska. Yes, seriously.) The program grew so quickly that I was able to pursue a full-time job as Miss Amazing’s Executive Director after graduating.
The longer I work on building Miss Amazing, the more passionate I become about the work. And I’ve never fallen out of love. If I ever had a high school sweetheart, Miss Amazing would be it. I’ve grown up with Miss Amazing. It’s become a limb without which I can only imagine I’d stumble through life. Miss Amazing is a reflection of me, and I of Miss Amazing. I promise, the personification of my work here isn’t just for flowery effect. I’m married to my job in every sense of the cliche.
In that way, my graduation from college was, at the same time, a wedding. On a sunny day in May, I found myself following herds of purple robes into Yankee Stadium—a college student who was just about the begin the rest of her life—and exiting just a couple hours later officially free to fully commit to the work that I had grown to love and adore for almost eight years.
After a month or so of honeymooning, the reality hit me. I wasn’t scared away nor did I ever doubt my commitment to Miss Amazing’s work. More so, I had a reckoning with my identity. A vacancy had been created by the college-life distractions that I had happily left at the gates of Yankee Stadium. I didn’t expect this feeling. Upon further examination, I found that this empty spot was reserved for the things that keep me grounded in the reality of the world around me. It’s the reality that being passionate about my work is great, but being passionate about every bit of life is so much better.
So far, it’s been a deliciously transformative process. These are just a few lessons that I’ve learned along the way:
Explore Your (non work-related) Passions
Before graduating, I envisioned myself working sunrise to sunset, kicking ass and building an empire. However, I never thought that the other parts of my heart and soul would feel so lost and abandoned in the process. Not only has focusing solely on work made me feel like less of unique individual, but it also closed me off to the rest of the world, causing me to unnecessarily obsess over my performance and progress. I began to realize that taking time away from work isn’t a sign of weakness, but instead a step towards emotional stability and intelligence. Slowly but surely, I’ve found my way back to reading, sewing, painting, writing (Look, Mom! I’m doing it!) and youth mentorship. Next up, dancing and kickboxing.
Find Non-Work Friends
One of the best things about my job is being able to work with inspiring and ambitious people on a daily basis. I’m happy to call many of my colleagues my friends! Still, I’ve found that my non-work friends have kept me grounded in more ways than one. First, I need those people with whom I can discuss topics that are better left out of the workplace, especially as the person who sets the tone for professionalism at my company. My non-work friends also reinforce my independence and present different points of view that I might be less likely to hear at work.
Be OK with Change
I went through a major period of self-reflection when I realized how much of my self-worth was derived from my work. I thought, “Would I still be capable of loving myself if my career took a different turn?” While many of my favorite qualities shine the brightest while I’m working, I discovered how important it was to attach myself more to those qualities than to the work itself. With this mindset, I feel less restricted and more empowered to imagine every shape my future could take.
Slowly, but surely, I’ve begun to uncover the different parts of myself, some new and some old, that define myself as a working adult (more emphasis on “adult” than “working”). I’m thrilled to say that, through sickness and health, I’ll learn so much more along the way.