I’ve been feeling quite introspective lately, which is always a good thing for me and a terrible thing for everyone else in my life. Conversations can quickly and without notice shift from “What should I have for lunch today?” to “What should I be doing differently with my life? How can I improve? What is my path? What are my goals?”
And then it’s usually back to the lunch discussion.
But I’ve had a few fleeting moments lately where I’ve pondered what I’m doing not just on a day-to-day basis — running, working, eating, sleeping and not much else — but in the grander scheme of things.
I want to be a better person. I never want to lose my edge or my passion for what I’m doing.
I feel lucky every single day that I fell into the job I have at Dance Spirit. Yes, I worked hard to get here. Exceptionally hard. And I still work hard every day. Lately my work never leaves the forefront of my mind. It’s a constant swirling discussion with myself about how I can make this magazine better, stronger, more exciting and more fun.
With that comes plenty of stress. It turns out, when you carry the weighty title of Editor in Chief, you also take on a lot of responsibility. In fact, you can take on all the responsibility. There’s no pushing blame, there’s only acceptance and taking responsibility for your actions and everyone else’s. That’s something I love about this job. I love being in charge and I love working with a team of motivated, excited young women.
We also get to talk to really cool people every day, and they write us love notes.
I love my work. I love my coworkers. Waking up and coming to the office is rarely tragic for me. Most days it’s something I look forward to. Other days I refuse to get out of bed. Other days are so stressful that I manage to go through the entire day without realizing I’ve been grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw the entire time.
People — especially people in New York City — are obsessed with money. They talk about it, they spend it and, if they’re very fortunate, they have some of it left over after paying rent, the electric bill, the Time Warner bill and the ever-rising MetroCard fare.
I never went into the publishing industry because of the money. That would have been a sad mistake.
Growing up, I never thought about money. It wasn’t something we talked about very much in my family. I knew my family was “middle class” by New Hampshire standards, and that we weren’t out buying new cars (my dad pretty much refuses to buy new cars, which is why he rocked a 1994 Ford Taurus until 2011), but we could stand to take a vacation from time to time. We were always well fed (maybe too well fed) and my parents supported my crazy expensive competitive dance hobby without mentioning to me how much it may have been depleting their hard-earned bank accounts. (Sorry, again, Mom and Dad. You guys are the best. Also sorry my recitals were usually four hours long. I understand now why you tailgated in the parking lot before I took the stage. Well played.)
I assisted classes at my dance studio in high school to earn some extra spending money, and during summers home from college I worked at a local printing company hand-binding, collating and shrink wrapping spiral-bound books. I oddly loved that mindless job. I waitressed in college to afford my Franzia addiction, and then immediately made the move to where I wanted to be: working for Dance Spirit.
I based my entire career decision and my entire life plan on what I wanted to be doing — and I never thought about the money.
As it turns out, there’s not a lot of money in magazines! Maybe on the sales side, and surely for the higher-ups at many of the large publications over at Conde Nast and Hearst. But most editors, at least the younger ones, aren’t exactly raking it in.
So naturally, as much as I love my job, I think it’s normal to occasionally think, “How can I be making more?”
I’d love to be rich. Shallow? Sure. But pinching pennies in New York City sucks. Sometimes you have to choose between having clean laundry or having a new bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs, and I’m going with the Mini Eggs every time. I will live in filth, but I will not give up my addiction to hard shell coated pastel candies.
Where am I going with this? That’s always a great question.
As I walked to work this morning, I watched this video:
The narrator asks, “What would you like to do if money were no object? How would you really enjoy spending your time?”
Now naturally my brain went nuts with this. I didn’t even finish the video. I paused it and I really thought about the question.
What would I do if money were no object?
I would run. I would run as far as I wanted every day, and after my run I would have time to stretch, foam roll, ice and eat. I wouldn’t rush off somewhere without proper recovery. I would also take fun classes at the gym and I’d try every instructor I could find. I would leave my sweat everywhere.
I would spend more time with Tyler. And maybe young people in general. Lately I’ve found myself really enjoying being around kids. I think they’re funny. Not so much when they poop and cry, but kids make me laugh.
I would travel. I would travel to see my friends. I would finally make my way to Vermont to see the place Lauren brags about, and I’d return to Utah and Colorado, if only to get five deep breaths-worth of that clean mountain air. I’d travel to ski and I’d travel to lay on the beach.
I would cook. I probably wouldn’t grocery shop, though I guess if time were no object I could go to Fairway at 11 PM when it’s significantly less madness-y. But I would definitely spend more time in the kitchen. I would learn to make things beyond “cheese casseroles” and “granola bars.”
I would volunteer. There’s the rush you get from a long run and there’s the rush you get when you make your deadlines at work. Then there’s that unbeatable feeling you get when you’re helping someone else. Not a lot compares to that. I want to spend more time doing things for others. Introspectively, I want to feel less selfish. I want to use any resources I have to make other people live better lives. I want to give back more than I take.
And I would write. I would absolutely, definitely write. I would keep blogging. I’d be able to say all the things I really want to say every day. I would write about dance, too. I would see Broadway shows, I’d go to the ballet and I’d scour the country looking for up-and-coming dancers just about to make their big breaks. And then I’d write about them.
In today’s world, it’s hard to just forget about money. As much as this video inspired me, it also frustrated me a bit. Society says that we need money. We need it to buy food, to have shelter and to support ourselves and our families. Money, unfortunately, is an object to most extents.
But if money were no object…this is still what I would be doing.
So I guess I’m doing OK.
Though I still have no idea what I’ll want for lunch today.
YOUR TURN: What would YOU do if money were no object?