When someone asks me about my job, and I tell them what I do, generally, one of two things happens:
Thing 1: That someone utters some version of : “You work from home? Oh wow, that must be nice!”
Thing 2: That someone quickly regrets asking, evidenced by eyes glazing over and a nod that is half “uh-huh” and half desperate for me to stop trying to explain.
As a result of the latter reaction, I’ve revised my explanation, and I only elaborate when my brief synopsis is met with a follow-up question. As a result of the first reaction, I usually get a little angry. This wasn’t always my reaction, though. Over time, the glorious opportunity to work from home has worn on me. If you also happen to be an overachiever trapped in a procrastinator’s body who works from home, you may be able to relate.
Working from home sounds amazing, in theory. It may actually be a dream situation for many. The longer I do it, however, the more the challenges begin to overshadow the benefits. Here are just a few examples of how theoretically awesome aspects of working from home have become problematic for me:
The Flexible Schedule. You can make your own schedule, with flexible hours. Awesome. Oh, wait…If there are no set hours for work, you have to hold yourself accountable to a schedule? Deadlines don’t disappear? You may slide down the slippery slope of working pretty much constantly, which for me means not very efficiently, or putting work off for just about anything else? Like laundry! Laundry’s so awesome!
You don’t have to wear pants. You can wear anything you please. In fact, clothing is entirely optional. Oh, wait…You mean if you don’t have to get dressed or shower, you won’t? Are you saying that sometimes days will go by between showers? That you may eventually find yourself feeling like putting “real” clothes on is THE. HARDEST. THING. EVER.
You can work anywhere. You can stay on the couch with that laptop. You can set up a cozy little dedicated office space all your own. You don’t have to leave the house! You’re so lucky. Oh, wait…So you don’t leave the house? And you could set up a dedicated office space but you haven’t managed to tackle this obstacle successfully in the four years you’ve been doing your job? And spending all day every day alone in your house is slowly driving you crazy, isolating you from human beings, and even your dog might be sick of you?
What was once a super-exciting list of possibility related to an exclusively remote position has mutated into a list of reasons I have lost much of my ability to function like an actual grown up. My list of struggles gets extra long if you include the really good stuff– like the fact that I am technically a self-employed freelance contractor. No salary. No benefits. No predictable pay schedule. When I accidentally started doing this job during graduate school, I never thought that I would daydream of a salary paid at regular intervals, secretly wish that my taxes were being automatically deducted from my paychecks, or begin to romanticize retirement savings and other employee benefits. You live and you learn, I suppose.
I am thankful to be gainfully employed, believe me. I remind myself daily that things could be so much worse. I could be unemployed, uneducated, and far more broke. I have found success in working from coffee shops and at the kitchen tables of other friends who work from home. My dog requires exercise, so that, combined with a personal love of fitness (that includes running anywhere but on a treadmill) has forced me to leave the house (and occasionally shower). I know for certain that I could probably figure out a way to make my job work for a while longer, or even forever. It would be and ideal position when Rob and I get married and have babies. People stay in careers they hate for their entire lives, right? Not me, y’all. Not me.
Why not me? That’s easy: Unhappy does not look good on me (and I try not to make plans based on hypothetical children). These could be some of the reasons that I am always starting over. I may even have several more careers in my lifetime. Since becoming painfully aware that my current job just is not meant for me in the long term, or perhaps that I am not meant for it, I am working on making a change rather than only complaining while changing nothing. I’ve identified what it is that I want to do, perhaps for the first time in my life. If you haven’t already heard (read), I’m working towards becoming a registered nurse. The first steps towards making positive changes took overcoming some fears: because fear is a liar, and I’d like a do-over.
For now, my future holds prerequisite classes at the local community college, logging as many volunteer hours as possible at the hospital, applications, recommendations, official transcripts, and (fingers crossed) a spring 2016 matriculation into an accelerated bachelor of nursing program.
The present? Yoga pants. Dirty hair. Lots of hermit-like behavior.
(Just kidding. I did all the laundry yesterday.)