Permission Granted: It’s Okay to Want Less

*something I wrote a while ago when I was trying to sort out my thoughts…

I’d worked my way up in the library. I’d worked my way up in the university.  I thought, “Why shouldn’t I be grateful to move to salary. A contract position! So glamorous. Somebody actually thought I was good at what I did and that I deserved to be rewarded by that. Man, I should jump at that- just because it’s there!

But the truth is, I was happy to punch the clock and put in my measly 25 hours a week. I was happy to do my work (and do it well) and then go home and not worry about it. I was happy not to have to be the person to make decisions or come up with new ideas or plan events. But I felt guilty and lazy about that. I started thinking what a terrible person I was and what a lazy person I was, not to desire to do more at my job. I knew I could plan a killer new project-I just didn’t want to.

Don’t get me wrong- I love the library. I love what goes on there. I love the programs implemented by the library. I love supporting the library. I just didn’t want to plan those programs or be in charge of anything. At least, not now. I could see myself getting amped up about that kind of work in the future– but not right now. I can’t explain it, but I just felt like I didn’t want a job that required too much brain power at this time.

Being the creative-new idea-event and display implementing person was a lot of pressure. I don’t want pressure right now. I want easy and relaxing. I know what pressure like that does to an otherwise enjoyable job: It sucks all the happiness and joy out of it. It makes it stressful.

So there I was with a shiny new salary position and an important title and I just wanted to give it all back. I felt ungrateful. A lot of people would kill for the opportunities that I had. But I’m not interested in climbing the ladder right now. I want to be a mom. I want to do volunteer work. I want to craft and sell my crafts. I want to practice Pilates and get my Pilates certification. I want to finally choose a grad school program and get started on it. Minus the grad school part, I feel guilty about wanting all that. It seems that in this day and age I should want to be a career woman. Don’t get me wrong, I do want to further my career. But right now I want other things more.

At one point my boss had to get surgery and would be out two months. We talked about what this meant for me. Being ‘next in line’ I would essentially have to be her for two months. As I sat there in the chair listening to her chatter off all the meetings I would need to attend in her absence, I could literally feel the dread creeping up from my stomach to my throat. But I nodded, smiled, and said, ‘No problem, I got this.’ And I did have it. I could do it. I just didn’t want to. I didn’t want the anxiety that came with all that. The anxiety that comes with anything that you subconsciously realize you don’t want, but are too afraid to admit it.

I didn’t want to be important or in charge. I’d been important and in charge for a lot of years as the owner of my own dance studio and head coach of a high school drill team, and I stepped away from it in an effort to cut the stress. Now I found myself back in that position. But I just wanted to be little old me, sitting in my corner, working on my little projects, and never being called on to step up. Honestly I beat myself up about this for months. I felt so guilty for not wanting to do it all. It’s not that I was a half-ass employee. I did my tasks to the fullest- I just didn’t want to be the all important go-to person.

I started looking back at the hourlies who seemed so stress free. They did their work, they went home, and forgot about it until the next day. I did more work (which never seemed to be enough) and then went home and obsessively checked my work email all night long, just to make sure that I was prepared for whatever would hit me the next morning. I busted my ass to get to work before anyone else and stayed after everyone left. I ate my lunch at my desk, while I kept working. I didn’t stop working while my coworkers talked about Once Upon A Time and Dancing with the Stars. I listened and interjected my thoughts- but I kept typing all the while. I wanted to keep up appearances. I felt obligated to do all this.

I convinced myself to stick with the new salary position and new responsibilities, even though I knew I was unhappy. Afterall- I was damn good at my job. I should want more opportunity to show what I could really do, right? But I never wanted to be a slave to my job, and that’s exactly what I was. I was at my boss’s beck and call. I came running any time she instant messaged me and summoned me to her office. I did everything she asked and more, even though it left me stressed, exhausted, and in a bad mood by the time I went home each night. I didn’t want my life to revolve around my job (and I still don’t.) I wanted want to put in my hours and then go home and enjoy my life with my husband. 

It thought that if I went in to my boss and was just honest with her and told her that I wasn’t happy in the new position, then she would look down on me and be disappointed in me. That she would tell everyone else that I just couldn’t handle it. Then I realized, just because I can handle something and I am good at something, doesn’t mean I have to do it or should want to do it. It’s okay to want less responsibility at times in your life.

It’s okay to want simplicity and peace.

It’s okay to want your life to revolve around your family, rather than your job.

It’s okay to want your job to be a small speck in a large life fulfilled by other things, like cooking dinner with your husband, and doing Pilates in your pajamas, and pulling weeds in your garden, while listening to audio books on your ipod.

It’s okay. I need and still need to convince myself that it’s okay to want and do less.