The track that I run at has a big grass field in the middle where local soccer leagues practice everyday. It’s one of the reasons I like running at this track. It’s always fun to watch the budding little soccer players kick the ball around while their proud parents watch from the sidelines and cheer them on. It’s also fun to see the younger brothers and sisters doing their homework in the grass before they are allowed to run around and play with the other kids. Seeing them fill in the blanks in their workbooks with their pencils, trying to concentrate just long enough to get the assignment done so they can play, really got me thinking.
Why is it that this sort of behavior is completely acceptable and incredibly normal when you’re a kid? In fact, if you weren’t hurrying through your homework, missing half the answers and scribbling words no one can read, people might actually wonder what’s wrong with you. The truth is, kids have way better things to do besides homework. They have friends to play with, forts to build, bikes to ride, feet to dirty and imaginary worlds to dream up. And we don’t just accept this kind of behavior from them, we encourage it.
But something changes when you graduate from college. Suddenly, we’re all expected to become ultra-serious, career-focused, money-making machines with Outlook calendars so packed full that we have to schedule time to breathe. It becomes normal to work more than you sleep, to see your coworkers more than your friends and to say things like “Let’s think outside the box” and mean them.
But honestly, these days, I’m having a problem with the way I’m “supposed” to be living. These days, I’m identifying more with those kids on the soccer field, scrambling to get through their homework, than my colleagues in the office, deliberating on conference calls until well after 7:00 pm. I don’t want to put in 12 hour days in the hopes of a promotion. All I really want to do is rush through my mandatory eight hours so I can go play.
What can I say, there are books to read, friends to call, songs to dance to, meals to share, bikes to ride, flowers to smell, blogs to write and cups of coffee to sip. And to me, these things will always be more important than building my stock portfolio or having some fancy title on the nameplate outside my cube.
Go ahead, call me unmotivated, irresponsible or lazy.
I’ll call you no fun. Then I’ll stick out my tongue, grab my long board and thank God that my five-year success plan involves ice cream cones and sleepovers. I wouldn’t want it any other way.