On Tuesday of last week, the fellows had a great leadership session featuring two alums and two other mavens in the non-profit professional world. The leadership session could not have come at a more perfect time for me. If you can recall, I had been feeling a little bit stressed about the upcoming fundraiser I am planning for my organization. As a result, I have been putting all of my energy into making this fundraiser a success. My summer fellowship is the first time I have worked as a full time employee, let alone as a full time employee in the non-profit realm. I have always been used to clocking out entirely as soon as work lets out. As soon as 5pm hits—I answer no phone calls, no emails, nothing.
However, this summer I have found myself not sticking to my rule of containing my work between 9am to 5pm. At Central, I work from 10am-6pm, and sometimes have to do extra work after 6pm. For the planning of the fundraiser in particular, there have been times where I have met with people for meetings after I leave for work, visit restaurants before 10am, driven to different parts of the city in rush hour traffic to try to retrieve donations from different businesses, and so on. To be honest, the extra work is thrilling. I enjoy the fact that my work does not solely revolve around being in an office. At the same time, it can be a bit draining because I have not found a balance yet in which my extra effort is wholly productive rather than a mere feeling of productivity. Because at the end of the day, the extra work has not made me feel any less worrisome about the event. So, when the speakers visited, I asked for their advice on how to maintain joy and health in their professional lives. One of the best pieces of advice they gave me was “Do your job, Don’t become your job.”
Since Tuesday, I have truly taken the advice of “Do your job, Don’t become your job” to heart. Although I have not perfected the work-life balance yet, I have become more conscious and honest with myself about how much I can handle. I almost visited a restaurant on a Saturday of my four-day July 4th weekend to discuss the fundraising event! But, I decided that I needed my Saturday to myself. I love the work I am doing because it is exciting work and it is good work. However, I am learning about ensuring that my work neither consumes my life nor my identity. Before I am a public servant, I am an individual with needs of sleep, food, good health, and joy and I can never forget that.