Grey Area




This post originally appeared on That First Year.

I was taught that there are two types of people in the world: people who can never take a break, and people who never want to get to work. At my office, it was announced a few months ago that in 2017 we will instate an unlimited vacation time policy; half my coworkers cheered, the other half put together a strongly worded email to the CEO. Some of them hadn’t taken more than a day at a time off in years. Others used their vacation days up so quickly they had to plan each hour out to the T.

Half of them can’t get enough of work. Half of them feel work is not enough.

But then, there are those of us who live somewhere in between. I find myself going months without taking a minute to look up—my nose so close to the grindstone, I listen to podcasts about “the grind” in my half hour a day of free time. I decide I want to take on all the jobs, the side hustles, the fitness challenges. And I don’t burn out; I get excited. I feel proud of myself. I think I can go like this forever.

Until I take a vacation. Eventually, it comes time for the holidays, or my friends and I decide to go away on a trip. I’m jolted for a day—what do I do with all this time on my hands? But it isn’t long before I relax into eating all the carbs and chocolate, turning on Netflix for six hours, not tempted to look at my email inbox for entire days. I can do rest like nobody else can—I am the queen of taking it easy. I think I can live like this forever, filled by the promise of infinite time and infinite calories. The joy of being out and about during office hours and seeing the sun for more than an hour during my lunch break feels like freedom and I think, nothing can be better than this.

Until I have to go back to work. My PTO comes to its end and I’m dragging my feet back to the office for another 8–5 run. I feel low, and trapped, reminiscing on the day before when I spent four hours drinking champagne on a pontoon boat. But it’s only an hour before I’m knee deep in emails, thinking about the latest problem that needs to be solved. I get home hyped on adrenaline and make a new meal plan—I can’t believe I let myself eat so much pasta—and I’m energized by the new challenges.

I enjoy my work. I enjoy my rest. I’m not one or the other, I’m not an either/or. How many of us ever are?

We’re not model-thin but we’re not going to be starring on my 600-lb. life either. We’re not child prodigies, but we have some talents we’ve been working at our entire lives, too. We’re not all good and we’re not all bad. Most of us didn’t really love Trump or Hillary. We are always somewhere in the middle, not an extreme, but just another lover of the grey area.

2017 is just around the corner, and with that comes a lot of expectation about who we want to start becoming once January 1st cleanses us of our bad habits and old, 2016 selves. But what if we didn’t have to choose who we want to be? Why can’t we decide that our resolution will be to eat healthier, but still make room for the pizza and chocolate when we want it? How about we accept that we’re never going to be an either/or, a one of two types of people?

How about we love to work, and we love to rest, and we don’t feel wrong for loving each while we’re in it.

Grey always has been my favorite color.