Where in the world is Olivia?

Friends, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Some crazy good, some crazy bad, and some just plain crazy.

I’ll start with the horse stuff, because why else would you be here? 😉

Addy and I had a couple really horrendous lessons in a row where it felt like we were not on the same page at all, and she was just nope-ing around the ring. Refusing little jumps she had seen 1000x, getting super strong, and generally being a sassypants. Nothing at all dangerous, just not our usual badass selves.

After a couple reminders to her mediocre rider that a) I’m allowed and encouraged to actually keep my leg on b) staring at the jump is counterproductive unless I want my horse to stop and stare at it too and c) sometimes breathing helps you not be a potato, we finally had a great lesson the other week! We ended up doing a 3’ course (see thecluelessbutcuriousrider for details on it!) and ended with the cutest knees-to-chin oxer ever. I felt like I had my happy pony back! Of course, pony was happy the whole time, it was her bumbling driver getting all bamboozled.

And then some sad stuff happened. My grandmother, my amazing Yia-yia, passed away about two weeks ago. She had been sick for quite a while and it wasn’t a huge surprise, but we’re definitely feeling her loss. I was able to catch a flight home two days later and spend time with family; exactly what we all needed. It was a bitter reason to get everyone together, but I have no doubt that my grandmother would’ve smiled to see all her (12!) grandkids sharing memories and being together.

I could talk for days about what an amazing woman she was- strong and beautiful and so incredibly devoted to her family and friends. I could talk for days about how she taught us to swim, let us make up our own recipes in the kitchen, snuggled us to sleep, and her contagious laughter. I’m incredibly lucky to have all these memories.

But I’m now back in VA and back to work and back at the barn, which is a blessing and a curse. Because as I’ve alluded to several times now, I got a promotion over the summer. It doesn’t change much about my responsibilities or reporting structure- it just means I have a little more authority. And with great authority comes great workload. Or something like that, right?

I’m being overdramatic here, of course. I get to work on interesting assignments with awesome intelligent people so it isn’t all bad by any measure. There may have been a week or two where I was booked for 3 or 4 different projects that added up to 60-70 hours per week, but those are not the norm. However, the new norm is staying late on non-barn days to ensure I can leave on time when I do have a lesson to get to. I’m also leading more projects- meaning that my deadlines now fall under my responsibility of getting done in time. Checking blogs and my email during work breaks have had to fall by the wayside as those breaks have gotten shorter and almost disappeared.

I don’t want you to think I’m grouping this under the “crazy bad” category- simply “crazy.” I’m genuinely enjoying all the new tasks I get to be responsible for- I even get to present at a conference my company is hosting next week!- and have been adjusting to the new workload. It’s not as bad as engineering school, so I just have to gear back up a little bit.

Thankfully, I got to ride my pony Monday for the first time since before my grandmother passed. 10 days may not be super long to some people, but it felt like forever away from my girl! Her owner did ride while I was away so she got to play a couple times, but I like to think she was happy to have me back on board. We popped over a couple tiny jumps since she was feeling so relaxed and happy, and homegirl loved it! Waited to the base, jumped carefully, landed fairly balanced, and was hunting down the next jump. I couldn’t even get her to walk to cool down- she kept laser-locking onto jumps and trying to trot over them. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to have that reminder that Addy genuinely loves her job.

Fun side fact: I talked with one of my trainers about the difficulty with refusals we’ve been having lately, and she responded with a version of, “well yeah Olivia, that’s what green horses do.” Wait, what? Addy isn’t green, is she? Apparently greener than I thought! Her owner didn’t jump super consistently with her and mostly focused on building her flatwork (which is so funny because while she has tons of fancy buttons, Addy much prefers jumping), so she only has maybe 2 consistent years of jumping, most of which has been 2’6” and under. Knowing that these bobbles are “greenie moments” actually makes me feel a lot better about them. I can work with greenie moments. It also makes me even prouder of my wonder-pony for giving me everything I ask for!

So I’d like to apologize for my muteness the last couple of weeks, and apologize in advance for the next couple weeks. I told myself when I started this blog that it would be purely for enjoyment and I would not allow it to become a source of stress. I’m still reading and loving all your updates and I’m still loving having this platform, but we all know that sometimes life happens. I’m going to update as I can and hopefully connect with some of you as I can, but know that even if I’m not super active I’m still thinking of you and rooting you on from VA!

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My job doesn’t make me happy

Nope. My job does not fill me with joy, I do not feel inspiration welling from every pore, and my job is not my “dream come true.”

But I love my job. I really truly love my job.

This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.
This is my view every single day, and goshdarnit I like it.

“But Olivia,” you might ask, “how can you love your job if it doesn’t make you happy?” And to answer that, I’m going to tell you why I can’t identify with Elite Daily or Buzzfeed or Thought Catalog anymore.

There are countless articles on those sites telling young people to pursue their dreams and not to settle for the mindless drudgery that an office job would surely offer. Millennials (of which I’m one) praise each other for sticking it to the man and making their own paths. And all of that does sound great! More power to you for holding out for what you really want!

Maybe it’s my practical streak, but that just doesn’t work for me. Traveling with no money and crashing on friends couches doesn’t sound adventurous and fun to me- it isn’t the lifestyle I want. I enjoy having a steady paycheck, a comfortable apartment, and decent hotels to stay in when I travel. Maybe I’m just an old soul.

Earning that steady paycheck means putting in my time from 8am-5pm (with a lovely hour long lunch break) and doing things that aren’t on the top of my fun-list: running statistical analysis, cleaning data, writing code, formatting Excel sheets.

So no, my job does not fill me with ecstasy every time I contemplate the work that I do. But there are so many reasons I love my job despite that:

  • The people I work with totally rock. My team, my department, and pretty much everyone in this company is smart, kind, interesting, and sometimes totally dorky. Just my kind of people.
  • My boss is the best boss I could ask for. He encourages me to create my own assignments and pursue whatever project on the docket that I have the most interest in, and he’s always pushing me to take on harder tasks. He’s my biggest cheerleader and he makes sure I know it.
  • I get to leave at 5pm. There are the occasional days where I have to stay a little late, but when I leave at the end of the day, I’m done. My evenings and weekends are entirely free for me to spend the money I earn from 8-5 Monday-Friday.
  • My company takes care of me. I never realized how much a good insurance plan would matter to me at 23, but it really does. And having more vacation time than most people at my level doesn’t hurt either.
  • My company takes care of the community. The CEO has a big emphasis on giving back to the community that has given so much to us, so there are constant volunteer opportunities put together at work. Food drives, toy drives, environmental clean up crews, making food for hungry children, you name it and we’re probably involved in some way.
  • I feel like I’m learning. I had no intention of coding when I left school (I hated all my CompSci classes with a fiery passion), but now I’m determined to become the team expert in anything that might require coding. Having that goal and feeling like I’m learning and improving ensures that I’m never bored.

Working at a company that fits my values like this has proven to be much more valuable than working somewhere simply because the work itself is enjoyable. I’ve found that it’s not so much about the work you do, it’s about who you do it with and the attitude you approach it with.

It was never my childhood dream to become a research analyst and do statistics and coding all day long, but it’s meant that I get to earn a living that supports my lifestyle, and gives me the free time to pursue the hobbies that I love. I don’t want a happy job, I want a happy life.

My job does not make me happy in itself, but it gives me the freedom to create a whole life that makes me happy.

I’d much rather work at this company in corporate America and enjoy my life than scramble to make ends meet while chasing some dream Buzzfeed told me I wanted.

Check out my follow-up to this here.