Lately I find myself complaining a lot about how busy I am. As much as I fight it, I’m slowly morphing into those types of people I once claimed to loathe — the Blackberry-addicted, send-you-straight-to-voicemail, buried-under-300-unread-emails folks. How annoying are they? But over the past couple months, that same annoyance has been coming from within. The words of Michael Jackson play over and over in my mind: I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror!
And I hate it.
I have a lot of readers who are also writers, authors and bloggers. I’m hoping someone can relate, because I’m having a really hard time keeping all these spinning plates and bowling pins in the air. Does anybody out there feel my pain?!
I could list all the things I do, but that would be lame. It all starts like it does with most people — I have a full-time job. Whether you work for a Fortune 500 company, a mid-sized manufacturer, a local nonprofit, or at home running a home-based business or taking care of your children — a full-time job really drains most of your day.
And then many of us have our “second” or “third” jobs. For me, my blog takes up hours and hours of my week. And I know that many of you, based on the sheer amount of content you create, face the same issue. Coming up with material, writing it, editing it, sharing it, engaging in social media to grow your readership — it all takes time. And as much as I absolutely love it and know it’s essential to the success of my writing career — it’s tiresome.
After those jobs, I’m left with only a few hours a day for other really important things — spending time with God, going to the gym, planning family events, helping my friend with a business project, socializing, and even dating. Sadly, some of these items fall through the cracks, because there are literally only 24 hours a day, as much as I try to stretch it to 36.
You might say: So what, Ruth? What’s the big deal here? Everyone is busy.
True. And this is precisely why I’m so annoyed with myself. But understanding that still doesn’t add any hours to my day. I long for the days when I was merely a freelance writer. Yes, I made a lot less money. But I felt in control of my life and my schedule. I had time to do all the things on my list… and my writing was a joy, not a burden.
Last night it hit me like a ton of bricks. I’d spent hours writing a great blog post, only to realize in the wee hours of the morning that it wasn’t ready to be published. So here I am, squeezing in 40 minutes before a team meeting at work, pouring out my scattered thoughts in a feverish, 90-wpm dance on my keyboard. And I’m frustrated.
I suppose what frustrates me most of all isn’t that I don’t have time altogether, because we’ve established that’s a universal problem. My true frustration stems from not having more time to devote to my passion — writing. I want to be that full-time author who rents a cottage by the sea for months at a time, waking up to the sounds of the waves and writing as the breeze moves me. I want to be able to fully pour myself into this blog, into my book proposal, into my quest to get a publishing deal. But right now, it seems impossible.
And as much as I want a husband and kids, I can’t imagine they would help speed this process along for me. I wonder if I’d resent them for that.
Perhaps I wasn’t meant for the cubicle life. I wasn’t meant for the 9-to-5 (I wish!) routine. I wasn’t meant for the steady paycheck from an employer (as comforting as it is). I’m the product of two raging entrepreneurs who instilled in me the importance of hard work. I saw their business ventures grow. Sometimes I saw their business ventures fail. Either way, they worked hard. And they found joy in producing something themselves, in starting a business from the ground up, in being able to define their life priorities. And at 31 years old, I’m realizing I feel the same way.
But right now, I’m trapped in a relentless cycle of clocking in, clocking out, and checking things off an endless to-do list. When do I get to pursue my true passion?
If anyone can relate, I need advice in a bad way. How do you balance it all? How do you not let your passion slip away when the realities of life stare you down every day? How do you manage to take care of your three, screaming toddlers and a husband who wants dinner on the table precisely at six o’clock each evening, and still have time for things that matter to you? How do you repeat the tiring circle of morning commute to ten hours at the office to evening commute, and still have time to run your own business on the side?
From one writer to another, from one human to another, from one busybody to a world that just won’t slow down — can you help a sista out?!