During the course of my entire life so far, I think there’s always been this constant push and pull between my personal love life and my professional life.
For example, as a teen and in college, I was totally boy crazy. I’d fall really hard and Mr. Right Now would take up so much of my time and mental space for a short while, but I never really lost sight of my studies. I was always an A-student. I graduated in the the top 3% of my high school class and graduated cum laude in college.
However, there were a few past relationships in my life that totally turned my world upside down in a different way. I can recall the exact three: my first love, one of my college boyfriends, and the last man that I ever dated. These three breakups were so hard on me that I can remember being in bed all the time, I lost a lot of weight, and – what I think is most interesting of all – I grew to hate my job after all three of these devastating time periods.
I think that when you hate yourself and a hardship that you’re going through, it’s really hard to be nice to your coworkers and customers. But in high school and college I don’t think that the other people around me for two or three days a week, during my part-time jobs, would have noticed my moodiness much.
During the summer between my undergraduate and graduate studies was the breakup between me and my college boyfriend. I worked at an Edible Arrangements store across the street from my apartment. There, it didn’t matter if I was depressed over my breakup because all I did was wash the fruit, cut the fruit, dip the fruit, and arrange the fruit over and over again. I spent most of that summer with my headphones on (Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night album came out that summer and I was so emo listening to it) and I worked with an older woman who was going through a divorce so we commiserated plenty. That’s about the only person I liked, and that liked me back, at that job. You know what they say: misery loves company.
After my breakup with the last guy I dated, I took it worse than anything ever before. I would go to work in a bad mood, be in a bad mood around my colleagues, be in a bad mood around my clients, I’d cry in the bathroom, cry on the way home, and cry myself to sleep night after night. I didn’t want to make friends out of my coworkers and I definitely didn’t want to go out with them after work to talk about our day and our lives.
It was super hard to get out of that particular funk and it took a long time. But when I finally did, my sales improved at my job, my sense of pride in my career, and my desire to be a team player also really improved. I think I thought that no one understood what I was going through and I didn’t want to share the hairy details. Although, years later, I did come to find that many of the people I eventually grew to really like had also been through very similar things. I’m sure that we were meant to find each other because we somehow knew and understood each other’s struggles. The friends that I made at that job are some of the closest that I’ve ever come to find through a workplace.
What I learned from those experiences was that I have this desire to be successful in my career but I’m best at that when I’m in a happy place. So finding love and being good at my job were not mutually exclusive, in fact they were the yin and yang balance that I’ve always looked for.
Just because I wanted to spend all of my time with a guy that I fell in love with didn’t mean that I needed to cut out early from work to see him or that I needed to curtail my long hours at the office out of fear of it ruining my relationship. I eventually came to realize that there’s something sexy about a woman who has a passion for her job and does interesting work.
On that note, I’ve found myself to be happiest in my love life when I’ve also been in job roles at a place where I feel that my work is interesting. When I would go on a date and could chat about the last movie premier that I planned or the crazy holiday party I had coming up then I felt alive, and powerful, and fulfilled.
I mean, I’m in the business of weddings and married to a man who has seen his fair share in his time freelancing as a photographer. We love to experience a wedding and then come home and talk about all the good and bad parts of it. We discuss everything from what the groom was like during the getting ready photos, to whether he shot the right angle during the first dance, to whether the filet was cooked properly, to if the mother of the bride was nice or not, and the list goes on.
But what we’re really talking about, when you read between the lines, is our own work. Our work is a direct reflection of our love. We support each other by talking about our day, what’s challenging, and if we did good work that day.
That’s where “Love and Other Plans” comes from. I truly, deeply know that romantic relationships can be an important and joyful part of a person’s life but it’s not the be all and end all. I don’t think one finds themselves in a relationship one day and suddenly feels complete in all aspects. But I do think that love can make you a better person, in the world and at work. There are a lot of things that love can fulfill within you but with the right kind of love, it makes you want so much more.