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If It Matters to You, It’s Worth It

2013 December 2

We Felt InfiniteThis year, Thanksgiving was particularly dread-inducing for me.

Yes, there was the usual “How can I pretend to be nice while ignoring Sleazy Uncle Matt’s sexist comments or Angry Uncle Steve’s rightwing religious rants?” (Did I call out Uncle Steve on Easter, causing him to effectively ignore the fact that I exist? Maybe. (Is it one of my proudest moments ever? Maybe.))

But the greater part of the dread came from the fact that this would be the first major holiday that’s gone down since I quit the day job, and I was not looking forward to delivering the same defenses ad nauseam as every person present asked a) what I was doing now, b) what exactly that is (“It’s like running a magazine on the computer, Grandma…Yes, people do read it…”), c) how I can actually survive doing that, and d) when I’ll give up and realize it’s time to get a “real job” again.

(At least it would distract them from the “Any kids on the horizon?” question.)

But, the day before Thanksgiving, something happened that changed my entire perspective.

It snowed.

The Best Little Thing in the World (To Me)

I did not like commuting. By which I mean I loathed it with the fire of a thousand suns.

I did not like driving the 33 every morning, half-awake and hating the job I was rushing like mad to get to, fighting off potential annihilation at any moment by the crazyheaded other drivers who were also rushing like mad to get to jobs they hated.

But commuting during the winter? Aww, HELL no!

Now, I could appreciate that we live in Buffalo, which means we laugh at the dusting of snow that shuts down whole cities in other parts of the country. I could appreciate (though I despised) the fact that blizzard-like conditions only induced my bosses to drag out the line “Unless there’s a driving ban, you still have to come into work.” We’re Buffonians. We’re tough. We eat blizzards for breakfast. I get this.

What I could not appreciate were the above-mentioned other drivers, who only took multiple spinouts along the side of the road and near-zero visibility as a personal challenge to show how fast they could manage to push the gas while still maintaining control of their vehicle. Every time I took to the 33 during snow, it was a white-knuckled agony of a drive, maniacs on my tail the whole way, until I arrived at my 15-minutes-away destination 45 minutes later, emotionally exhausted and ready to take a long ball-of-danger-curled nap the rest of the morning.

So you can imagine the utter Christmas-morning thrill I felt on Wednesday when I awoke to see Winter Storm Boreas had left a thick blanket of snow over the world…and I didn’t have to drive in it. My neighbors were firing up snow blowers at 7:00 in the frigid morning, and I was in my PJs and fluffy robe, watching two contented puppies curl up on the doggie bed in my office as I serenely sipped my coffee.

I felt like I’d been given a new lease on life. Everything — and I mean everything (fluctuating income, long hours, disbelief at the validity of my career from loved ones) — seemed completely and totally worth it in light of the fact that I would never again have to drive the 33 during rush hour snow.

Is this a bit melodramatic? Maybe. But to me, it is one of the loveliest things in the world. And I realized, in that moment, that anything anyone at Thanksgiving might have to say about my new state of employment, it didn’t make a whit of difference. Because all I’d have to say was, “I didn’t have to drive the 33 this week,” and I’d immediately feel a sense of relief and joy so profound even Angry Uncle Steve — if he deigned to acknowledge my presence again — couldn’t bring me down.

I didn’t have to drive the 33 in snow. I would never again have to drive the 33 in snow.

It didn’t matter whether anyone else got it or not; I got it.

Frankly, My Dear…

See, the thing is, nobody can tell you whether what’s “worth it” to you is a “valid” enough reason to do what you’re doing.

Because nobody is you. Nobody has your values, your priorities, or your life to steer. So whatever anyone else thinks of the choices you’ve made or the tradeoffs you’ve accepted, it means absolutely nothing. You don’t have to justify your life to anyone. Only to yourself.

I don’t happen to have have the “kid” gene in me. But that doesn’t mean I spent Thanksgiving demanding to know why my in-laws ever thought having children would make them happy. That doesn’t mean my first question upon seeing Cousin Kurt was, “Seriously, dude? When are you gonna get rid of these kids? Haven’t you had enough by now?”

Because I am not him. And I know that his kids are his reason for living. I don’t get it for the life of me, but it’s his groove, and god bless him for dancing to it.

Of course it helps when your friends and loved ones understand why something is so important to you. But at the end of the day, the only thing that really, truly matters is whether it is important to you.

If you can wake up in the morning, think that little worth-it-you thought, and have your whole world seem right again, then keep on doing, brother. More people than you will ever know would kill to have something that important to them. Follow it with every ounce of everything you’ve got in you, and forget about what anyone else thinks.

If it matters to you, it’s worth it. End of story.


Image:  Shanon Wise

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  • Shanna Mann

    Dude, I LOVE not commuting. That’s like, two hours of my life back every day!

    • Cordelia

      Precisely! Two very frustrating hours that now are quite pleasant. :)

  • Cordelia’s Mom

    “I didn’t have to drive the 33.” No one outside of Buffalo can truly appreciate that comment (or perhaps “battle cry” is a better term?). Personally, I am thrilled that I no longer have to worry every single workday morning when I hear on the radio that there’s been yet another fatal accident on the 33 – at least I know it’s not you, ’cause you’re home doing your own thing. And doing it very well, I might add.

    • Cordelia

      Why thank you! :)

  • Micah

    Man, I can so relate. My favourite thing about working freelance has little to nothing to do with the income (which is inconsistent) and all the world to do with no longer having to feel like a rat on a wheel. Monday mornings – my former arched nemesis – is now a cuddly friend. And there’s just no subsitute for doing work you love.

    “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work” – Aristotle

    • Cordelia

      Amen! My entire Sunday used to be spent in a gloomy funk at the prospect of another work week. (Just ask my poor husband.) And every weeknight, I went to bed with dread in my stomach. Just being able to wake up each morning without resentment and go to bed without dread is more than worth the price of admission for me.

      And you’re right; even at the most stressful, I will never feel for my freelance work what I used to feel for my day job. “Your worst day doing work you love is better than your best day doing work you hate.” :)