Real Life Sick Days

I have never liked sick days. Not when I was a kid, not when I was in college, not now. And I don’t think I ever will.

If you ask my mom, she’ll definitely tell you that when I was in school and would wake up feeling like something close to the black plague had hit me, I would still insist on going to school. “But I have a test today. That paper is due in third period. I’ll be so far behind on my in-class assignments. How am I going to know what my homework is?”

I’ve been doomed from the start. Yes, I did occasionally skip a class or two in college when I was sick, but I never felt OK about it. (Which could explain why I once left a three-hour seminar to go to the bathroom, throw up, and return for the rest of the session. Of course, that was when I was studying in Australia, and it was an entirely different kind of sick…but we won’t get into the details.)

But at least back then, “sick days” could still be kind of “fun.” When I was too young to stay home alone, my mom would drop me off at my Nana’s house. I would bring books or toys and watch her go through her morning routine. We would watch The Price Is Right and QVC. I would build castles with wooden blocks and color some pretty stellar pictures. Nana would make me soup for lunch and we would both take an afternoon nap.

Once I was a little older, sick days meant fending for myself at home. A can of Spaghettios, the TV completely to myself to catch up on those all-important episodes of Fraggle Rock, Under The Umbrella Tree, Gummi Bears, Rugrats (the guilty-pleasure little kid shows I still enjoyed) followed by Ricki Lake, Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer (my older sister’s influence) and then TRL and The Rosie O’Donnell Show. Then I would patiently wait for my best friend, Julie, to call me and tell me what I missed in school – or maybe I’d be lucky enough for her to stop by and bring me my work.

High school meant you were definitely getting that work delivered to you, but most often at the hands of your parent who had been in touch with each of your teachers about what you were missing and even took a trip to your locker to get the textbooks you forgot to bring home. Ever the overachiever, this was always a bit of relief to me. I wanted to stay on top of the work while I could. But I definitely still got my share of The Price is Right and any other tv I wanted in at that time.

In college, sick days meant I could sit around and have a constant rotation of company. Roommates, suitemates, hallmates, friends… they all had classes at different times and were totally willing to stop by and say hi and indulge in yet another marathon of Gilmore Girls with me.

In the real world though… sick days suck, man. I’m now on week four of being on medical leave from work and I’m out of ideas. I’m tired of reading. I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to all my long-neglected music in my iTunes. I’ve written in my journal. I’ve completed menial tasks I’d put off for four years, like importing six CDs of music my roommate in college gave me (I’m not kidding). Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest can only be refreshed so many times. I’m 100 percent tired of television. (Y’all, there is nothing on during the day. Don’t feel like you’re missing out. Well except for The Price Is Right. That never gets old.)

When you’re well, all you want to do is lie in bed and watch tv and have no responsibility. But when you’re unwell, you tire of these things at record speed and want nothing more than the comfort of your office and work responsibilities.

So if anyone is at work and needs a break or a distraction – please, please, please feel free to text, call, gchat me. I’m here and ready to meet your distraction needs. Unless I’m napping. Then I’ll get back to you.

In one year…

So 2012? Whirlwind already. And it’s only (but at the same time, “already”) February. The end of February. How is this possible?

Three weeks ago, I was on a beach in Jamaica, loving life with my family and my best friend. It seems like an eternity ago. I have so much I want to write about that week. So many things floating in my head and in my paper journal about my time there.

But for right now, I want to talk about time and change.

Specifically, the difference a year makes.

It was a year ago this week that I had my last day at my first real job. A year ago that I decided to quit that job, with no back-up plan. To give up a pretty damn good first-job salary and benefits for…what? I didn’t really know at the time.

All I knew was that I couldn’t stay at that job anymore and still be me. It was quite literally killing me. I had no idea where I’d end up, what I’d do, how I’d survive. But I knew I had to do it. I ended up moving back home. There were days I felt smaller than an ant. There were days I did nothing but cry and feel sorry for myself. There were days where I couldn’t help but think, “What the hell did I do?” over and over again. (Mostly on days that I had to write my ridiculously high health insurance bill on a measly freelancer’s wages.)

But in one year…one year out of the [almost] 25 I’ve been on this earth…I turned it all around. My friend Liana pointed this out to me this weekend. I hadn’t fully realized it until that moment. Seeing the pride in a friend’s eyes as she thought about how far I’ve come. It’s one thing to feel it myself or to see it from my family, but seeing it from a friend – especially one like Liana who I look up to so much – drives it home.

In one year, I managed to:

  • get some crazy guts to say, “No. I won’t settle for this. I won’t let this hurt me anymore.”
  • realize the importance of a savings account
  • practice humility and gratitude
  • write about some really cool things through my freelance work
  • spend a lot of time caring for myself, wholly, in a way I wasn’t able to do before
  • figure out what I really want to do with my life
  • apply for a job on a whim, get an interview the next day, and an offer the day after that
  • get advanced in that job from a part-time “intern-ish” position to a permanent part-time editorial assistant position, then to full-time salaried editorial assistant, and as of this week (right at the one year mark), full-time salaried editorial assistant with benefits.

In one year. I think back to how I felt this week last year, and while I was so excited and feeling light and free and at peace with my decision, I was absolutely terrified. Understandably so.

This week, I’m happy as can be. I have a handful of deadlines that might cause me to stress this week, but the end results are worth it. I love my job. I love my coworkers. I love using the skills I worked so hard to attain. I love feeling that my dreams in life are really in the process of being actualized.

One year can make such a huge difference. One year made me the Lindsay I wanted to be. And I wouldn’t trade that one year – even the very worst days of it – for anything in the world.

UPDATE: I am an ass who totally forgot that Mary also pointed out this exact thing to me this week. She is my Texan cheerleader and I couldn’t do it without her!

What has been the most formative year of your life so far?

A Year of Letting Go

I just spent a good hour reading my blog posts from the end of December 2010 into January 2011. It is remarkable how much has changed in a year’s time.

I made the clichéd statement in January last year that “this year is MY YEAR.” People say it every year, it’s probably on about 10 Facebook statuses on your News Feed right now. I’d said it in the past.

But in 2011, I really followed through on that.

One year ago, I was struggling to crawl out of depression. I was making very difficult decisions, but decisions I knew I needed to make.

Ultimately for me, 2011 was about learning to let go.

When I think back on it, that’s what everything I went through last year was. Letting go.

Professionally, I quit my job at the end of February, having no backup plan and a scary year ahead of me. I just knew I couldn’t continue to let that job degrade me anymore. I second-guessed myself when times were tough, but I never truly regretted the decision I made.

Personally, I learned to let go of toxic friendships and relationships. The ones that I poured my heart and soul into and consistently got nothing but disappointment in return. I learned to be OK with being “alone,” but also learned that I wasn’t even actually alone, because there were amazing people in my life who would be there for me regardless.

But most importantly, I let go of fear. I let go of self-doubt. I let go of insecurities.

Without making these conscious choices to let go of things that weren’t right in my life, I would not be starting 2012 in such a good place. For the first time in my [albeit relatively short] life, I can say I am truly and completely happy in my job. I am doing what I love doing, in the industry I have always seen myself in, with fantastic coworkers and a lot of opportunities for growth. I come home feeling energized and excited, rather than defeated and tired. I now am free to put my time and energy and love into the people who deserve it, rather than wasting it on those who don’t appreciate it.

Throughout the course of 2011, I learned to fight for what I want. I learned that I am strong. I learned to stand up for myself. To have confidence in myself.

I fought through a lot in 2011, and in the end, I came out on top. And I am going to continue fighting in 2012, continue growing and learning. And if I have to, continue letting go of the things that don’t fit anymore. I am looking forward to what this year has in store, and I hope all of you are too. Happy New Year to all!

What did 2011 mean to you? And what are you hoping 2012 will bring?

The Single Girl’s Checklist #12: Don’t settle

Sometimes, good news comes when you least expect it. But then you realize, maybe you should have expected it, because you kind of made it happen.

That’s one of the thoughts I had today when I benefited from doing the 12th item on my Single Girl’s Checklist:

#12 – Learn to stand up for yourself.

Or, as I’m learning to think of it: Don’t settle.

I’ve been at this job since the end of August, and while I was loving parts of it, others were not quite what I was looking to do. I was OK with that – not everything is going to be the way I want it. But I was just wishing I could do more of the tasks I enjoy, that I have a background in, and that I want to do in the future.

A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to take a full-time position in the company. Doing the side of the business I didn’t enjoy – the programs side versus the editorial side that I love. When I was asked whether it interested me, I answered honestly: no. It was not the side of the business I wanted to do, I wasn’t enjoying those tasks, and that’s not the direction I wanted to go in my career. I turned it down.

Sure, it could have been easier to just say yes, suck it up, and in the words of Tim Gunn, make it work. But I have settled before, and I didn’t want to do it again. So I said no, and told my supervisor what my career goals were and what I was hoping to see happen.

Today, that came to fruition. It had been a while since there’d been any mention of it all, so I was starting to lose hope. But this afternoon, our editor asked me to come into her office, and there she had an offer letter to bring me on in a full-time capacity as an editorial assistant.

Now, instead of working four days a week, I will be working five. I will be getting a slight pay raise. I will be eligible for “real” full-time status and benefits pending a performance review after 60 days. But that’s not the best part.

The best part is that I will be officially in the editorial department, reporting to the editor. I will be taking on more responsibility and doing the things that I love doing, like when I spent the entire day before Thanksgiving copy editing.

I guess I’ve learned that when you stand up for yourself, don’t settle for less than you deserve, and ask for what you want… well, sometimes you’ll actually get it. I suppose it also doesn’t hurt when you take on more tasks than you probably should to prove your worth.

“Gamble on yourself. I’d gamble on you.”

If you asked me whether I thought a quote from Modern Family would ever be the inspiration for a blog post, I probably would’ve said no, except if it was just hilarious and absurd and part of a “this made me laugh” conversation. (Or in reference to Cam’s “sleepclowning,” which made my childhood nightmares come true this week.)

But this week, there was a moment between Jay and Phil, which, if you watch the show, you know is a big deal.

Not from this episode, but another Jay/Phil moment.

The following conversation occurred as Phil was trying to decide whether to leave his steady job to become a partner at a new firm:

Jay: “Do you want this?”

Phil: “Yes.”

Jay: “Then gamble on yourself. I’d gamble on you.”

Cue tears. Maybe this is a message we are all waiting for, or one that we’ve been too stubborn to hear.

We’re waiting for the approval from our loved ones to take the risk, to make the leap, to double down on that hand on that big, hairy, scary dream of ours.

To accept that while failure is a possibility, we will be the better for it in the long run. We will learn from it. We will know better next time. And even if we do fail, our support systems will still love us. We are so conditioned to think that failure is the end, but really, it’s just the beginning. It’s the beginning of figuring out a new solution, a new path, a new adventure. If we succeeded at everything all the time… damn, that life would be boring, right? Probably rich and lucrative, but boring nonetheless.

When you go to Vegas, sure, it’s fun if you start winning right away. But eventually, you’re going to lose a little bit of money. It’s then that you start to appreciate the winnings. You’ve gotta take the risk, put yourself out there, and see what happens.

My family and friends have been nothing but supportive of me and my decisions over the past year. But I haven’t taken full advantage of that. I’ve been humbled by it, touched by it, but not quite as inspired by it as I should have been. They’ve all told me, in different words, that they are willing to gamble on me. That they would place that bet that I can hit the jackpot on this idea or that idea. That they have faith in me.

I’ve just been lacking that faith in myself. That ability to accept the possibility of failure. That fearless nature to put the big bet down, cross my fingers, close my eyes and see what happens.

Maybe it’s time to make that bet. If everyone else is willing to gamble on me, I should sure as hell be willing to gamble on myself. After all, I’ve got a lot less money to lose than most of the others!

Adult…or something like that… part 2

That whole “being an adult” thing has kicked my butt again.

This morning I decided I should probably check my bank account to see my financial status. And while I don’t feel like I’ve been spending much money, apparently I spent much more than I should have in D.C. last weekend. But I get paid on Tuesday, so I thought I could make it. Except that my credit card payment is also due on Tuesday. Minimum payment, here I come.

Then this afternoon, my mom noticed that my muffler on my car looked like it was falling off. My brother-in-law came over to look at it and upon touching it once, it clanged to the ground. Grrrrrreat.

So now I not only need new tires, I also need a new muffler. And I’m overdue for an oil change. And the holidays are coming up rapidly.

It’s days like this that I wish I hadn’t left that steady, well-paying job to pursue my real career goals. (But I know this feeling will pass, because I was so utterly unhappy there that I couldn’t survive any longer.)

I proceeded to have an hour-long text conversation with my best friend about our love/hate relationships with money. Which I think, ultimately, comes down to a love/hate relationship with being a responsible adult.

It might be time to pick up a second job around here…

Being an adult, or something like that.

I’ve always prided myself on being fairly mature for my age. (Well, if you ignore the “that’s what she said” jokes.) Adulthood suits me. I have always wanted to have purpose and meaning. I crave independence. I like being a “professional.” I’m a morning person. I like getting dressed up. I like being busy. So that whole “having a job” thing is pretty good.

But sometimes, being an adult sucks. There’s the paying of the bills and the figuring out of the happiness and then… then there are the days when you have to wake up at 3:30 in the morning because you have to drive somewhere for work and be there by 6 a.m.

Yeah, that day is tomorrow.

And as I set my alarm tonight, I couldn’t help but think how much I miss being a kid. Or at least a lazy college student.

Oh well, I guess this is part of being an adult… or something like that.

*Yes, this is a cheap, lame excuse for today’s post, but y’all, I gotta go to BED right now. Good night. (And no guarantees on a quality post tomorrow due to the onset of delirium.)