August 12, 2011

a time suck...

*disclaimer* This post is not a rant about my working conditions, or in-school environment. It is a tale of how I realized a shift in pleasure in my life, because of the extra demands my job places upon me. I do love my students, they are impeccable, amazing, and for the most part, intelligent. If it were not for them, and a few exceptional co-workers I'd be crazy by now.

I've always lived with the mantra that I would like to work to live, not live to work, and for the most part I've been successful. Any time I've spent in N/A over the past three years was spent working simply towards the goal of traveling, or living as I became to view it. My first year in Korea could even be described with the same basic premise. Although I did not leave the country at all in my first year, I spent the majority of my time exploring Seoul, and Korea, in general. I had a nice balance working in the afternoon, and enjoying my evenings. My weekends were also free, as was my mind. I was able to do as I pleased, and as many problems as there were with my last job I was able to escape them nightly, and two full days a week.

While I was applying for jobs last November and December, I interviewed for various schools, and various positions. I was honest with them, and expected them to be relatively honest with me as well. I was aware that schools were going to embellish a few details, but most people can see through bullshit. I decided that the company I chose was the best considering they had a great reputation, seemed to push aside the bullshit and give me honest answers. During the interviews I specifically asked about the work/life balance. I was told that my work would be challenging, yet I was assured that few teachers brought it home with them. I was told that my work could be tackled during office hours. This answer turned out to be a fairytale.

I write this entry in the midst of a three day long weekend. A time when I should be worried about bus schedules, hotel reservations and the how weather is going to be. Instead I find myself concerned that I will have to mark 55 essays, and complete 109 student behavior comments. I'm really curious how things got to this point. I now begrudgingly live to work, and this shift in mantra happened slowly at first.

A few months ago I jokingly worked on comments while attending a Nexen Heroes Baseball game. At the time I was still relatively new to the company, and thought nothing of the inconvenience. I was then starting to fall behind on the 60+, 5 paragraph, debate essays that I'm required to mark once every couple of weeks. Again I thought little of spending a Sunday afternoon in a cafe gleefully marking. I have several places in Seoul that I enjoy hiding, and casually spending time in.

I've found that it has all come to a head in the past couple of weeks. I regularly find myself with little to talk about. I fumble around conversations that used to come normally to me. I find that I spend most of my time talking about work, thinking about work or actually doing work. I am also not talking about what I do from 1-9; I'm talking about all the hours in between shifts. My weekends are often ruined by the pressure of work. I feel this immense guilt because I'm not marking the stacks of essays that pile up. I'm completely aware this is wrong, and that my work life should not impede or ruin my social life.

I most recently spent my 7 day 'vacation' staring at my apartment wall attempting to remove these feelings of guilt. What I guess I'm trying to say is I'm in shocked how this shift happened. It doesn't even feel like a shift, it feels like a takeover. I always thought that working to live was a lifestyle (and choice) that workaholics had, or people who loved what they do. I realize that is an extremely naive statement, yet it's not something I ever really looked into. I was too busy enjoying the laid back lifestyle I was previously accustomed to. Slowly but surely, like a magnet, I've been sucked into an abyss of never ending work. Every time I conquer one hill, another arises to take it's place,. The funny thing is that it's usually the rewrites of the first hill I climbed. My feelings of guilt, of not doing work in my spare time, have to be indicators that I'm not working to live, and that the table's turned. I wasn't even aware that work could have that much power, and influence, to organize a coup.

In the shadow of this revelation, I find myself staring at a beast. A beast that doesn't want to be conquered, or step aside for my lackadaisical existence to once again thrive. I think that the saying 'It's better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all' shouldn't be bound to relationships alone. I feel that it can, and should be applied to what you do. If it wasn't why would our teachers/professors preach this cliche to us?  Along with 'Find something you enjoy doing, and carve out your piece' I think they are right.What I hate about it all is that I feel that what I enjoy doing is carving a piece out of me...

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