Newspaper Writing, Opinion, Sample Work

Making a Life Instead of a Living

life versus livingPublished September 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take

Making a Life Instead of a Living

I’m not too proud to admit that I’m a workaholic. When I’m not grading student papers or compiling paperwork for the student newspaper on campus, I’m actively writing for publications. There is not one aspect of any of these jobs that I dislike and I feel very fortunate to have the job or jobs that I do have.

However, there comes a point in life when it feels as if your career or jobs consume you. It’s those moments when you just want to sit down and watch television, divulge in a day of nothing or break out a puzzle or craft project and time just doesn’t allow you to enjoy any of these pleasures that you realize that something has to change.

While traveling for work recently and browsing through a gift shop, I came across a wooden sign that read “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” At first, I was amused at how ironic it was that this crossed my path while I was out of town for work and then a wave of sadness came over me because I knew I was a guilty culprit.

I bring work home, I grade papers well into the wee hours of night and I’m even guilty of writing this column after midnight on most occasions. Sleep is a luxury and as a result, I’m not the best version of me I want to be. I’m tired, I’m crabby and most of all, I’m overworked.

Working all the time when you enjoy the tasks, like I do, makes it bearable. However, I’m fortunate to be able to provide for my children, maintain a home for us and put food on the table. Many people in this world spend countless hours working at jobs they can’t stand, in environments that are unsanitary and unhealthy and in physical conditions that are detrimental to their emotional well-being – all because they have to, not because they want to.

Those more unfortunate than me have no choice but to give up luxuries and precious time to work and work, only to realize that the paycheck does not stretch far enough. They don’t get the opportunity to choose to make a life versus a living. With children and families depending upon them, they must work and continue to sacrifice.

As I contemplated this thought while soaking in the knowledge of this random message I was given in a little gift shop in Nashville, Tenn., I realized that I’ve made a choice to consume myself with work while others are not as fortunate.

As a person of faith, I do my best to pay it forward, give back to others and my congregation while also offering prayers of support for those who are suffering. However, my personal choices and changes to make life, God and family more of a priority than work is also a step in the right direction.

Just in case I lose my way and start to trudge back into my workaholic ways, I bought that little wooden sign and it hung it on the wall in my home where I need to see it the most – my office wall that leads straight to the living room – a place where I need to do a little more living.

— Shannon Philpott

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