You can’t keep holding out for a dream of success when you don’t know how to be happy today. Here’s now to build a better relationship with your work life.
When you’re struggling to advance in the world as a working artist, when minimum wage seems like it would make your life easy, the biggest sacrifice you can make is giving away your time for free. I cobble together enough contracts and successful pitches to live as a freelance writer, and I’m grateful for it. But the hours I spend drafting, revising, and proofing are astronomical compared to what I get in return. Living in a big city where rent only gets more expensive by the day, I’ve been tempted to give it all up and work at Starbucks instead. At least I could catch my breath.
Anytime the temptation to take the easy way out strikes me, I remember how few people are lucky enough to even be in my shoes. And that’s why I have to give time back. I don’t believe that a selfish life is worth the struggle. I’ve learned that whatever strains I put on myself to advance my career, life is about setting time aside to make it worthwhile. It’s more than just giving my time to my arts community. It’s also about sharing my challenges and successes with someone whom I love.
Even when it’s a struggle for my own voice to rise above the crowd, I want to help others be heard as well. It’s because I don’t want to take out more than I put in. But sometimes I forget that my own maxim applies as much to my relationship as my community.
The New Kim and Kanye
Busy people are supposed to be successful, right? Power couples are all over the place, working long days and still raising a family.
Of course it’s silly to find role models on the covers of magazines, but how is to so hard to make a relationship work when you’re just two people trying to move up? There are a lot of ways you can take the easy way out in life. Persevering is what makes it worth living, though. Mounting life’s obstacles together makes it even more rewarding.
When working days stretch into ten, twelve hours, with volunteering on top, I don’t have a lot of time for my partner. Some days, I just feel stretched too thin to give her the emotional support she needs in her own life. Working too hard creates stress in a relationship, and you can wind up neglecting someone you would really follow to the ends of the earth. A relationship that works creates a space where both partners feel they can recharge. Instead of draining each other, we should have been supporting each other.
Like The Beatles Said, Love Is All You Need
In the long run, walking away is going to kill you emotionally. You can’t keep holding out for a dream of success when you don’t know how to be happy today. It is possible… You just have to find a way to make it work now.
The first step toward building a better relationship when your work life is maxed out is to mutually get real about money. We found our couch on Kijiji and, using it as a reason to set some time aside from our busy working lives, we turned it into an opportunity to spend some time together. You could call it a date on a budget, but when you’re with someone real and genuine, the best times are total accidents. We didn’t want to rent a car, so we had to hold out until we found a couch in walking distance. We checked the weather before we set a date to pick it up and carted it through the neighbourhood on a warm, sunny day in September. It was a little rough getting it down the seller’s stairs, but it was pretty luxurious taking a break on our new couch in the middle of the sidewalk. We do most of our big-ticket item shopping on Kijiji and we’ve learned to have fun doing it, using it as an excuse to travel to new parts of the city. We’ve also learned to trade in before trading up. It took a bit of time, but when my partner needed to upgrade her phone, she offset the cost by selling her iPhone online for a fair price. With a bit of patience, you can stretch your budget instead of stretching yourself.
It wasn’t until my partner and I were blocking traffic with a second hand sofa that I remembered how, even if I didn’t have much money, it didn’t mean I couldn’t have fun. It’s important to block out all the external things. In the end, your harshest judge is yourself.
The best way to keep your relationship strong when it feels like you’ve stretched your time as far as it can go is to create an understanding environment at home. When you recognize that your home life is just as important as your work and your passion projects, you can start to manage your time. It might feel like you’re not getting to where you want to be fast enough, but burning out won’t get you there any faster. If you get there alone, you’ll wonder what you were struggling for in the first place.
Even when you’re working double time, it’s important to strike a balance in your life. If you think you should be spending every minute working to pay the bills or reach your dreams, you have to turn away sometimes to reconnect with your community, your partner, or you friends. Hard work is a great quality to have, but happiness comes from working for something other than yourself.