In Defense of Being a Young Workaholic

The way I work has triggered such negative accusations as “Your job owns you!” and “You’re never not working” and “You have no life!” I’ll admit. Working throughout the morning of this last Christmas Eve did little to squelch these rumors.

LaunchSquad provided me a MacBook when I was hired and I was in nirvana. My crush on Apple’s beautiful white laptop lasted all through college and my lust was even worse for the iPhone. Both devices have become a source of acute irritation to my boyfriend because they mean one thing – I’m always connected, always able to work. Always.

Being thus equipped ends up meaning that I don’t quite have a work-life balance, adequately appropriating work to one location and time-frame and personal life to another. Work, for me, is – if I may call upon some industry jargon – cross-platform and happens in real-time. If’ I’m watching TV, I often have my computer open and on my lap, and while I’m likely not doing any writing-intensive projects, I’m still carrying out tasks, however miniscule – updating media lists, searching for coverage, maybe a bit of pitching. This can happen whenever and wherever. And it does. Here’s why it’s not bad:

  • AGILITY: I have no children and do not live with my significant other so I’m not sacrificing quality relationship time to work. I’m young enough that work doesn’t exhaust me enough yet to keep me from doing other things if they come up. When work emergencies come up, I can jump on them easily and as I am already so engaged in the accounts, I often know exactly what needs to be done.
  • RELOCATION FROM HOME: Let’s face it – after college you may have to move away to find a job. And a new city can (in my case, anyway) mean a staggered, at best, social life. Which also means I have more time to work. And I take advantage of that – it can help ease the loneliness.
  • ENERGY FOR THE WORK I DO: I love my job, my clients and my work. Not everyone is so lucky, but learning to engage in hard work, I mean HARD WORK – the kind that keeps you up and at the office at night, goes through hours and hours of revisions, endless thought-processing, and finely-tuned technical planning that strains your energy, social life, and sleep patterns – is an important lesson and career move that translates across jobs, whether they suck or shine in your life.
  • FUTURE IN MIND: I work like this so that one day I won’t have to. I work hard to eventually manage others to do the same. Look at the people who manage you – more likely than not, they’ve sacrificed a fun evening out for an all night project or two.

Again, I’ve got the idyllic situation for this kind of lifestyle and sometimes it can really suck to know that I could take a less stressful job and enjoy a much more socially-friendly personal life. I had to accept, though, that while I’m not in college anymore, I didn’t graduate to stop working hard. It’s a bit heart-stopping to realize that the morning and evening commutes and everything in between are your life now (and may bleed into other parts of your life), don’t let that stop you from tackling the challenge that our generation is so afraid to face these days – hard work.

We are so eager to be lazy, so eager to take advantage of lax work environments, to work till the bell rings – till quitting time. To leave work at work and invest in the fun life that a salary can buy. It’s an effect of an entitled generation who sees jobs and day-to-day work marginalized in the media and not worth the effort until we’re making six figures in a corner office. Sure, shoot for the stars. But understand that the groundwork for that life happens NOW because, while MTV and our culture will tell you differently, those perks are a direct result of hard work and your very best effort. The sooner the better.

Mike Rowe’s TED talk on Dirty Jobs and Work:

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2 responses to “In Defense of Being a Young Workaholic

  1. Hi Megan,

    I’m currently in Kelli Matthews PR class at the U of O. I am on the brink of graduation and anticipating the outside world and the hard work you describe. I must ask you though, doesn’t the hard work shake your nerves? I also appreciate keeping the future in mind, but do you ever question if our twenties is really time to kill ourselves so we can be relaxed later?

    Congrats on getting a job you love and living in my favorite city in the world. I really enjoyed reading through your blog.

  2. Sorry for just getting to this, Jenna, and thanks for commenting!

    I do appreciate the whole “live while you’re young” idealogy, and, frankly, after graduating who doesn’t want to take advantage of that last care-free summer? It’s also quite tempting to put off responsibility for a while and hike through Europe – Greece is so cheap these days! That said, I think the days of “taking time off to explore/find/create myself” are done for a while.

    We live in the wrong economical era to embrace lethargy. These are uncertain times and the job market is bumpy. Competition is fierce and the smartest people know that “taking time off” now translates into laziness, or perhaps fear of responsibility. Who’s to say that once we graduate that we’ve earned time off? Isn’t that essentially what retirement is for?

    You’ll find that the hard work does shake the nerves, but it’s also empowering. To do a job well done is a great feeling.

    My advice is to hurdle those nerves. Nerves are nerves, nothing else. It’s hard to get physically or emotionally injured from working hard. But the professional injury suffered from NOT working hard is nearly impossible to recover from.

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