Facing the impending start of the new semester and my recent return to my regular, school year coffee shop job, the differences between the way I have been living and working this summer and how my life is during the school year are stark in my mind. These differences are currently serving to fuel my interest in post-grad employment options as well as console me through my last year (for a while at least) of sleepless nights and endless reading. For me, as a student, it’s like having a job that is never done. There is no clock to punch, no hourly wage and certainly no overtime to incentivize working yourself haggard. At the end of the day, when your classes are done, even if you finish all of the tangible homework that needs to be turned in, there is always more that you could be doing. Always a reading assignment you’ve put on the back burner, always a paper that would benefit from added revision and more citations. There’s no one that encourages you to let work be work and leave it at the office because the dogma of studentship is all encompassing.
These are things I didn’t realize until spent time working at my internship, a place I was learning constantly, working hard, and challenged in ways similar to a classroom – the difference being that I was highly encouraged to log my hours and to not do work in my free time. It felt strange at first, when I offered to finish something up at home so that it would be ready for work the next day and my supervisor pointedly told me to not to. “Do it at the office tomorrow,” she said, “that is what work time is for.” Slowly, after that, I realized how important a distinction between work life and home life can be for personal happiness and how different it feels from what I am used to. Sure, my coffee shop job doesn’t give me work when I’m off the clock but that isn’t something I anticipate pursuing for a career either.
While I still feel a lot of ambivalence around what direction I want to take in the next few years of my life, my experience this summer feeling what it’s like to be engaged in work that is both meaningful and educational but also have a life outside of it gives me hope. Time for hobbies, friends and time to be quiet and read without that constant nagging guilt that comes with the school year reminding you that any time you take for leisure is time that could be spent being productive is something I am very exited to find in my future. Its that realization that has inspired me to move from the mindset of wanting college to last forever to being more than ready to move on to the next stage. Don’t get me wrong, I will definitely enjoy my last year of school, but to the people who say that college is the best four years of one’s life, I’m quite sure they’re wrong.