Today is an auspicious day for me. It marks one year since I began working a part-time retail customer service job for the first time in 10 years.
When I first started the job we kept saying “It’s only until…” with a date that kept being moved out. I never thought it would be a year later and that I’d still be working there.
I’ve written before about the lessons I’ve learned from working with people who are often roughly half my age, how I think an experience like this would be useful for everyone to have occasionally, how being underemployed is very different than being unemployed, the challenges of starting a part-time job after so long.
Earlier this year I also wrote about how I was trying to be productive, using as much time available to me as possible. You can do anything in 10 minutes, I wrote at the time. Well here’s a slightly different perspective on that.
You can do anything for a year.
You can do it. It might seem hard. Adjustments will always be difficult. It may not be what you want to do or what you envisioned yourself doing. Sometimes you will want to pack it in and call it a day and throw a temper tantrum like a five year old denied a candy bar in the grocery store checkout lane. All of that is understandable and reasonable.
But you pick yourself up and you do it. Things are OK. They’re good, even. You remind yourself of the good things that are coming out of the situation. You keep moving forward and take the wins where you can get them.
This has certainly been an eye-opening year, reinforcing over time many of the points I’ve already made. Not only has working part-time retail been an interesting and educational experience, but I’ve also grown as a freelancer. I have a good amount of steady work that keeps me busy (and paid) and I fill in the gaps with my various personal blog projects and other writing.
Things are moving forward in my life, both personally and professionally. They’ll do so today and they’ll do so tomorrow. I couldn’t do any of this without the support of my wife and family, who have listened to me rant and rave as well as share whatever successes I’ve enjoyed.
Again, I never thought this would last a whole year. But here I am. I can honestly say I think I’ve grown as a result of this experience. It’s certainly given me insights into the human condition I didn’t have before. More than anything, it’s shown me that you can do anything you need to and set your mind to.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.