I am a workaholic. There is no denying that. People who know me know that I work a lot. I have had a really interesting relationship with my workaholic tendencies. When I was younger, in early undergraduate years, I was extremely proud of this. Boasting that I worked 30+ hours a week whilst also doing large amounts of study and volunteering work. This was going to set me up career wise I thought, and I guess in a way it did!
Then I started my PhD and I don’t think ‘workaholic’ even describes the amount of work I was doing. But I no longer felt proud of this. I felt guilty and really out of place. Why did I spend so much time working and (although not always) why did I enjoy it? I gave up many social events because of work. But I told myself it is fine, I would finish the PhD and get a 9-5 job and would be stoked about that.
When I started my full time position in market research I was also tutoring online university courses and finishing a PhD. Ah, I am starting to sense a pattern… Then I finished my PhD and had a term off tutoring. I was working the 9-5 dream, or was I? I couldn’t help myself. I stayed back late at work to perfect projects that didn’t need perfecting. I continued to supervise a PhD student. I continued publishing my own research.
Why? Because I enjoy this. I had an epiphany I guess, although that is probably too strong of a word for it. But I realised that I had goals and motivations for my career. I love supervising students and love researching. I no longer want to be defined by my workaholic ways, but I also definitely don’t feel guilty about them. They are as much of a part of me as my freckles, tiny feet, and PhD-induced grey hairs.
I did however decide that I was going to use this tendency to my advantage. Academia is full of workaholics. If I stayed in market research I would not be rewarded for the extracurricular activities I was stacking my CV with. But in academia, supervising and publications are important. I decided that I was not going to change my workaholic ways but I was able to change my environment to suit them.
I would also like to say that I am really comfortable with my workload now, I do work more than 9-5 but I also spend a lot of my time with friends and family, reading, watching terribly trashy TV shows, exploring, blogging, and living!