Last Light On

turned on pendant lamp
Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

A habit of mine, left over from years in sales and management, is following trending articles and posts on LinkedIn.  I have a few reasons for still doing it, although it’s been a year since I left the corporate world.

I enjoy seeing the accomplishments of friends I used to have lunches with- those who have put in the hours and years and finally got to the rung of the ladder they’ve always wanted.

I grumble about the CEOs bragging about increased margins (all the while I cringe knowing it came from layoffs that affected some friends).

Part of me keeps reading thinking that if I ever go back, I’ll still be in the loop.

Then there are articles that make me sad- remembering the time I spent chasing paper.  One article I saw today showed a photo of a single light on in an office.  The caption read “That’s my office light on because I’m the last one to leave the entire office building.  The money isn’t going to come to you. You have to put in the work to get that money” (C. Sanders)

The humble brag.  Or the mantra to make yourself justify the time spent away from children, family, friends.  The Badge of Honor of the sales professional- I work the hardest, I get the biggest paycheck.

I did it too.  I bragged about sending emails and working spreadsheets at 3 am.  I had conference calls in McDonald’s parking lots with my son in the back seat with a Happy Meal while I coached a sales team over the phone.  I skipped funerals. I missed parties.  I showed up late or not at all to friend’s weddings.

I was the one with the last light on in the office.

At many points in my life, my hustle meant keeping a roof over my son and my head.   At other points in life, I did it just for the bragging rights- the look at me, I’m a “real” sales professional.  I wanted to impress bosses. I wanted to impress family and friends.   Maybe I had a complex that I ‘only’ had a degree in fine art, and somehow getting a paycheck with benefits validated my existence.

Instead of crucifying myself and rehashing the guilt from leaving my crying son at home for 2 weeks while I attended a sales training- I try to remember that in every season of life certain things will have to be done.  Those hours I poured into work- the company has long forgotten- but the paychecks kept food on the table.

I just hope that when those times come again, I work the hours for the right reasons and not just for bragging rights on LinkedIn.

Best In Life

“Conan! What is best in life?”

The movie line wandered thru my head early one evening.  For years and years, my answer would have been- “To climb to the next promotion, score the biggest commission check, win the trip to California– Get the admiration of my peers and congratulations from my managers”.

ford-mustang-auto-vehicle-80465.jpeg
Not my ride. But close to what I had.

I would have thought a new Coach bag.  New mufflers for the Mustang.  Two cell phones, because who can have just one number?

Chanel perfume.  Dior mascara. Gel manicures and weekly pedicures.  $300 haircuts and highlights.

Big screen tvs. Latest Xbox. Blue Ray collection before Blue Ray was a thing.  GPS units. Fit-bit trackers.

These things in themselves are fine, and many are high quality well working products.

What was wrong in my mind was the relentless pursuit of them, then the acquisition of them, and finally the disappointment soon after when the “Next Best Thing” was announced.

What also was wrong was the 70 hour work weeks.  Being 30 pounds overweight. Blowing off family events for manager meetings no one would remember two weeks later.   Email and chats with co workers at 3 am about spreadsheets as if it were government policy we were writing.  Only to have the big project scrapped just over a year later, all that time and stress amounting to nothing– and the big paychecks spent and forgotten.

I’d be a hypocrite if I said I still don’t enjoy nice electronics.  Or reading up on the newest phone features.   Scrolling thru Pinterest for the latest hair styles, or shopping on Amazon for little things for the kids.

On the evening I remembered the line from Conan the Barbarian, I no longer thought of these things.

What’s best in life? Listening to my son make-believe stories with his Legos.   Watching my baby girl smile in her sleep after a warm bottle.  Coming down the stairs in the morning and seeing my husband’s slippers next to mine.  A cup of fresh coffee, and some sunshine thru the trees as the birds sing their good mornings.

I wish I could tell my 20 year old self to be careful what you sell your time and soul for.  That the things I chased would be shadows and memories nearly as soon as I grasped them in my hand.  And that all I was looking for would be the most simple, peaceful things this world can offer.