Health & Wellness

All Work & No Play

     At least that’s what it feels like right now. Now don’t get me wrong, I knew that getting a full time job would involve a lot more hours and work than I had when I was at university. I was under no illusions about working hard, and losing a lot of the freedom I had back then. I’ve jumped from 6 hours a week in class to a 46 hour work week. In some ways, I’m handling this fine, and I’m certainly not complaining about everything – I know I’ve got some pretty good things going for me right now – but that doesn’t mean that I’ve entirely adapted to, and embraced this change.

Chalk drawing of a man holds scales trying to balance work and life / play

     The early mornings were initially a shock to the system, yes, but although I still utterly loathe them, I have gotten into the routine of them now. And when you have to wake up at 6.30am six days a week, my body actually finds it pretty difficult to lie in late on Sundays! I’m also not doing anything super difficult while at work. Other teachers are in back to back lessons nearly every day, and have to spend chunks of their free time planning those lessons. I only teach a handful of classes, to nursery children, so they require little preparation in the first place, and I have ample time to do it. I spend more time helping with the new textbooks they’re making, which is just drawing and colouring in the illustrations (I might have to start considering this as my next career move!). And let’s not forget, I get to work with some pretty adorable kids, and I’m living in Hong Kong for goodness sake! So things could be worse.

     No, what I’m struggling with right now, is the lack of free time, and what I’m doing with it when I do have it. I work 5.5 days a week (the .5 is Saturday mornings, which at first I thought would be fine, but quickly grew to hate it) and on weekdays I leave the flat at 7.30am and don’t get home again until 6pm, at which point I am usually exhausted. I’m not sure why, given that I’m far from a workaholic (these are only my contracted hours, I don’t do any extra!) and the work isn’t really strenuous, but I think it must just be all the hours adding up, and although I’m not with the kids all the time, they can be a lot of work anyway. I will point out that every other teacher I know, both in my school and other ones, feels the same way, so I’m not exaggerating! So once I get home, I don’t have the energy or the willpower to really do anything. I usually go exploring in Hong Kong at the weekends, and there’s no shortage of things to go see, and when I have so little time off, I do want to try to make the most of it. However, I still feel like I’m wasting my free time on these weekday evenings, when all I really do is come home, have dinner, write for this blog, and watch TV or go online.

     The obvious solution here would be to start doing something else, but that’s a lot easier said than done. I always intend to do something, but I’m so tired when I get home that I just don’t want to anymore. I’m also not sure what to do, as when I stopped to think about it, it’s not like I did loads of things, or had interesting hobbies when I was at uni either. I have plenty of things I enjoy – my blog tags should give you a fair idea! – but not many are ‘hobbies’ as such. Some of my old hobbies have vanished for obvious reasons – my piano is still in the UK, funnily enough – and others I got tired of – I rarely read in my free time at uni, since I was always doing it for class, and art has sort of lost some appeal when I have to do it at work now, not that I’ve done much in the past few years anyway. I used to do yoga for a while too, which I stopped out of laziness and never got back to. I thought about classes here, but I think I’d rather save the money for travelling, and there isn’t exactly heaps of space to do it in the flat when my flatmate is home too. Writing, and things like music and films, seem to be the only things I’ve held on to, and they are my favourite things of course, but this doesn’t lessen the fact that I feel like all I do these days is work and sleep more than anything else.

     Writing about all this doesn’t change anything of course, but I just wanted to get some of this off my chest. The ‘real world’, as I always refer to it, is harder than the university ‘bubble’ in so many ways, though not that different in others. And I’ll say again, I know it sounds like I’m sort of complaining about nothing, and that I could change things, but I’ve had so many conversations with others about the lack of a life we all have because of work. Hopefully I will at some point – I’m not sure by doing what exactly yet, maybe I’ll start yoga at home again when the flatmate’s out, maybe I’ll go out and take photos more often than just when we see another tourist attraction, maybe I’ll start writing my fiction/non-blog stuff again – and I’ll feel like my life consists of more than just work. I do like parts of my work, but not enough for it to not feel like work – I do live for the weekend to an extent. I’m not convinced this is my career path of course, but obviously work of some sort will always be a big part of my life now, since I have to earn money somehow, and I get excited when I think about what I’ll do with my future savings (read: more travel!), but even as I write this, I can feel my eyes drooping, and I’m just tired all over again, which makes me feel a bit bleak again.

     So, all you ‘adults’ who’ve been living in this ‘real world’ for longer than I have – advice please! How can I find time for myself, and actually make myself want to do something more with it? And any suggestions for hobbies or other things I could do?