Sometime near college graduation,”Adult” quickly becomes a verb. Paying rent for an apartment, going to the doctor alone and actually working 40 hours a week all become part of the reality of Adulting.
I started my first “adult job” doing phone sales for a major tech company. As fun and exciting as the office was, I got home at the end of my first day and cried in the shower. I felt guilty to have such a great opportunity to grow my career while also feeling unhappily chained to my desk at the office. I couldn’t comprehend how I supposed to get up before seven a.m. to get to work, throw myself into my job for nine hours, then head home with enough only time and energy to eat and get into bed.
It hit me that I had to do this roughly five days and forty hours a week, 50 weeks of the year for the next 40-50 years of my life. (This was also before I learned how taboo it was to leave the office at five p.m.) With barely enough energy to get home each day, I found myself sleeping through weekends just to function by Monday. Was this the reality of Adulting?
I had more questions.
With all my hours spent Adulting, I struggled to understand when was I supposed to see my friends, paint, shop, write, eat at restaurants and go to the gym? Americans working full-time clock an average of 47 hours per week working, while the rest of the time is spent eating, sleeping, being stressed and paying for things.
The further I got into the “real world,” the less I felt like I had a life. I was succeeding at my sales job for more than a year, but struggled not to assign my self worth to the size of my commission check.
At the end of this summer, I turned my back on it all. Adulting my way to “success” involved a lot of loneliness, exhaustion and very little real happiness. I resigned from the corporate world, started bartending at a sports bar in Murray Hill and love my day-to-day. Every day I learn new drinks, meet new people and leave with a wad of cash at the end of each shift. Football Sunday is just another day in the office.
By going to work at 6 p.m., I suddenly had time to be outside during the day, explore New York, catch up with friends and rediscover my interests, including writing this blog. Starting something creative of my own has been rewarding in ways I have never experienced. I actually feel like I am applying my degrees more so than my office job.
Expecting to be judged by other young professionals I know, my decision was received with only envy and awe. It turns out a lot everyone wanted to quit their entry-level jobs, but only a few of us had the balls to take the plunge into the unknown.
I hope to return to working full time, but not until I find a job I am excited to go to everyday. We all deserve a career that not only lets us live, but enriches our lives. In college, I thought Adulting was all about working all day and owning nicer things. If the last year has taught me anything, it is that the most important part about being an adult is finding the courage to swerve off the beaten path.