Forcing Myself Off of the Hamster Wheel

Photo is of a sunrise above the beach.
Photo by L. Laguna

You have not heard from me in seven weeks because I have been on a hamster wheel. Like many of you, I have been busy and continue to be busy in many areas of my life. Still I am forcing myself off of the hamster wheel so I can absorb and process everything that has happened within that time frame.

For my day job, I am the Assistant Director of Career Education Services at an institution of higher education. Undergraduates, graduate students, and alumnae/i are reaching out to me to figure out the next steps in their career. Furthermore, faculty and staff members are consulting with me on designing ways to integrate career development into their curriculum. Since late August, I have accomplished the following:

  • Created and led five workshops to teach people career skills such as self-assessment, virtual networking, informational interviewing, personal branding, resume writing, self-care, self-advocacy, and community building
  • Presented at a retreat and other events for first generation college students as well as two information sessions to introduce my center to students
  • Coached individuals in appointments to develop career development and learning strategies
  • Received an acceptance letter from a conference for a proposal I submitted months ago
  • So much more that it would take a series of posts to include all of the details

By the way, I have only mentioned my day job so far. We are not even talking about the work that I do independently in career coaching people outside of higher education.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started and since the series of attacks and murders of Black people like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, people in different networks are reaching out to me for guidance in their career growth. Recent events have compelled them to re-evaluate what matters most to them in their lives.

For a long time, I had been hoping to career coach people beyond my day job, but I had not expected it to unfold like this. It has been a strange way to see my wishes start coming to fruition.

Aside from career coaching both in my day job and outside of it, I became an instructor for a seminar that supports the transition of new students to college. What a unique semester to teach a such a course! Within my first sessions, I already have facilitated discussions on intersectionality, identities, success, and a public health crisis—while simultaneously navigating the functions and nuances of learning management systems.

Some people have said it is “nice” of me to engage in all of these activities, but I am not doing these things to be “nice”; I am doing them because this work is what the world needs now. It is necessary if I want to live in a world where public health, justice, and quality of life are highly prioritized values.

I am more than my work though. The three jobs I mentioned above do not even touch on my service as a board member for a women’s empowerment organization, leadership team member for an antiracism group, speaker at a rally to support Black lives, or panelist for an event focused on healthcare.

Even for my birthday, I incorporated meaning into my celebration. I held a Zoom party and fundraised for The Audre Lorde Project, which is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. I asked people to donate $10 each. 20 people ended up donating a total of $350.

Some people have said it is “nice” of me to engage in all of these activities, but I am not doing these things to be “nice”; I am doing them because this work is what the world needs now. It is necessary if I want to live in a world where public health, justice, and quality of life are highly prioritized values.

I am redefining what I consider successful, and I am reframing what I consider meaningful.

A week ago, I posted this on LinkedIn along with an article from The Hill titled LeBron James recruits 10,000 poll volunteers to assist in Black districts:

Michael Jordan is the GOAT, and so many aspire to be the MJ of their respective fields. With that said, LeBron James and other basketball players from both the NBA and WNBA stand for so much more than basketball, sneakers, and product endorsements. Will they ever be considered the GOAT like MJ? Most likely not. They might not be considered the embodiment of success of their industry, but sometimes legacies are so large that traditional measures of achievement cannot truly quantify some people‘s accomplishments.

This article reminded me to step off of the hamster wheel of work.

Am I proud of my achievements? Yes. Do they define me? No.

Success means little if you do not have wellness. We all know that in theory, but now is the time to show it in practice. What are you showing people through your actions?

2 thoughts on “Forcing Myself Off of the Hamster Wheel

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