Everyone’s Experience Is Different (Ain’t That the Truth)
by Mike Dang and Logan Sachon
Mike: I have powered through this week!
Logan: Yeah it sounded like you’ve been really sick? But you’ve worked so much. How are you able to do it? Like, really. I become non-functional when I’m sick, but you’ve worked full days.
Mike: You know, I don’t think I’ve ever taken a day to recover when I’ve been sick. I’ve always worked from home at all my previous jobs when that’s happened. So I guess, it’s like I’ve been trained to do it. Which sort of cancels out “the sick day” benefit I was supposed to get. I do not recommend this. Your benefits should work as they’re intended.
Logan: Seriously. You wrote something yesterday that surprised me. Confused me. You talked about being able to take a weekend trip with your boss’s permission if you worked on the plane ride? But: THE WEEKEND IS YOURS.
Mike: Well, I had to take Friday off to fly across the country. That was actually a terrible situation because I had planned that week to be in California months in advance. And then that week happened to be the week of a very important launch of a thing the team was working on, and my boss was like, “we need you here.” So, I ended up paying a $50 fee to change my flight to make my one week trip to the West Coast a weekend trip. And my boss said, “Okay, you can take Friday off if you work on the plane.”
Logan: UGH. I despise that. I despise that whole thing. Did you consider just saying no? I made these plans months ago?
Mike: You know, that’s just not in my nature, and I think people have taken advantage of that. People take advantage of the fact that I (unhealthily) often put work first.
Logan: I have before, which we’ve talked about. It can be easy, unfortunately, to be like, “Mike loves work! So I’ll just let him have a little bit more …” Which. Is. Obviously. Wrong.
Mike: Some of it has to do with the fact that yes, I am a hard worker, and some of it has to do with the fact that I really got my career going during a terrible recession and a volatile job market, and I’ve felt this need to show people why I deserve to keep my job.
Logan: I’ve worked with you for a few years, in different situations — as a coworker, and then you were my boss, and now we’re partners — and I can’t imagine anyone having any question about your worth or the reason you should keep your job. You are the hardest worker in any room. I’m sure you’ve worked harder than whatever boss didn’t let you take a vacation.
Mike: It definitely gives me a strong footing to fight for myself in, say, situations where I am negotiating a promotion. “I cut my vacation short to be here when you needed me. I power through and work from home when I’m sick. I am indispensable at this organization.” And you know, I’ve never heard any of my bosses argue against that.
Logan: That’s very true. I do wish you gave yourself a break more often though. Like, you were really sick this week! Half days would have been totally in order.
I considered saying, “I’ll do your posts this week, take some time off,” but I didn’t. I felt like, well, you’re an adult, if you wanted me to do that you would ask. But I do worry that you don’t always take care of yourself!
Mike: As much as I pride myself on how hard I work, I also consider it a detriment. I have zero work/life balance basically, and that’s an important thing to have to stay sane and prevent burnout. I’m lucky that I am young and single, but I wonder how I would adjust if I had a family? I would hope that my kids would come first. I would want my future kids to come first.
Logan: I think when you’re a dad that it will be natural that your kid will come first, and work will move to second. I don’t see you as a workaholic absentee father, at all.
Mike: Well, thank you, I hope that’s true. But now that I’ve transitioned from working for other people to working for myself, I think that’s more than likely. No more cutting vacations short!
Logan: Do you feel like your way is the “right way” to work? Do you look down on people who don’t work as much as you do? I, for example, have to check out for some hours each day. I. Must. Do. It.
Mike: No, I think that people have different ways of being productive, and that you just have to find the thing that works for you to work the most efficiently. I think that telling people to do things my way would be just totally crazy insane. I mean, one of the reasons I work so much right now is because I’m juggling multiple jobs, so in this case, it’s just natural that I work more hours than other people.
Logan: When do you relax?
Logan: SERIOUS QUESTION.
Mike: Well, I try to do that on the weekend.
Logan: Have you instituted rules, like, okay, From 8 to 10 each night, I can’t look at the computer?
Mike: No. Haha. How sad is it that I’d need schedule time to unplug?
Logan: I don’t know that it’s sad. But you do tend to work all the time, and you know that about yourself, so I think it’d be cool if you scheduled in some free time. Sometimes we have to do things for ourselves that seem silly! Like: I had to give you my credit cards in order to stop using them. RIDICULOUS. But: I had to do it and so I did it, and it worked for me (“it worked for me!”).
Mike: Well, yes, I do! I don’t want this to sound like I have this depressing, workaholic life. I’m meeting friends for dinner tonight. My old grad school roommate is visiting from New Zealand for the next week, and I’m going to meet up with him. There are things that are important to me that I’ll make sure to find time for.
Logan: Oh, for sure you do that. But I’m just talking about ME TIME. Sitting around doing nothing. Or watching television shows. Wandering around aimlessly. These things are so important to my life — ha, really — that I can’t imagine not making time for them.
Mike: Me time is a little bit of luxury right now. Because when I’m sitting around doing nothing, I’m really running through everything in my mind that I need to get done. This is one of the things that happens when you’re self-employed. You think a lot about where that next dollar is going to come from. Also, I feel like you wandering around aimlessly is also you wandering around wondering where you’re going to find a place to live or what have you — stuff you’re dealing with at the moment.
Logan: How much of this do you think is your personality, and how much of it is that you don’t have a safety net? Like, I have moments of dread and panic a couple times a week, but it’s not always. Most of the time, I just sort of trust that things are going to work out. But yeah, that is a luxury for sure.
Mike: Yes, a lot of it has to do with the fact that my safety net is myself. Like yesterday, when you talked about how your “1 Thing” was to ask your parents to borrow $2,000 for moving expenses, I thought, “Oh, right, that’s an option that some people have.” But even though I depend on myself, I also know that I am lucky enough to have a network of people who would make sure I wouldn’t end up on the street. Like, I’m not going to be homeless. I have friends who would let me stay on their couch and help me get back on my feet if things ever got really rough.
Logan: You could stay on my couch! When/if I ever have a couch! And if I ever have any money, you can borrow money. (You have all my credit cards. You can use them.) I debated posting about asking my parents for money yesterday. I mean, I’ve talked about it enough and been very clear that I’m lucky enough to have parents who have the means and the desire to help me. They paid for my college, have helped me so many times. It feels icky to keep bringing it up — it seems like bragging almost, or in another way, it seems like I’m complaining (oh poor Logan has been putting off asking her parents for money even though she knows they’ll give it to her). I KNOW that’s not everyone’s experience. I know it’s a privilege. It’s this weird line between saying, well this is my life and this is a thing I have to do, and being apologetic about it. I know I’m so lucky to be able to have my parents help me out. But it still doesn’t feel great.
Mike: And my experience is the opposite of yours, which is why we make such a good team. That is your experience, and this is mine. And I’m never going to be like, “Ugh, Logan, look how privileged you are!” Because we are all dealt different cards, and if you have good ones, you might as well play them.
Logan: I’m so appreciative that you have that attitude. And now I’m wondering if my telling you to “just relax sometimes!” is totally tone deaf to your experience. I get upset when commenters respond to some of our writers by just being like, “Stop complaining you’re life is perfect” or something similarly dismissive. None of us have any idea what other people’s experience is.
Mike: Yes, but people also like to call it like they see it, which is just how the Internet works, and I’m fine with that because I’d rather have a discussion about something than have no discussion at all. I’m not going to discount your experience because your parents paid for your education and have helped you out in your twenties, and I’ve had to pay for my own way. I’m never going to say, well, you don’t understand what I’ve had to go through in life as someone who grew up with not a lot of money, or as a minority in a predominantly white neighborhood. This doesn’t make my experience any more or less legitimate than yours. I think thinking in those frames can detract from our shared goals. We’re all striving for the same things, right? We want to reach parity, and have equal access to health care, and feel like we can all stop working one day and have a good life. Recognizing that we live different lives, but have the same goals is important to me. Unless, you’re evil and just care about having all the money for yourself — those people can shove off!