Last night, mother's day evening, because my boss had promised a client that we would hand over a deliverable by Monday morning (and because I am nothing if not a procrastinator) I plopped down in front of my computer at precisely 8:30 p.m. and worked furiously. I researched and scoured case law and strung together semi-coherent sentences about complicated issues of law until my eyeballs literally lost their ability to focus. Two hours into my work I took a ten minute break to rest my eyes. After that, I didn't look up again until my project was completed, at 2 a.m.
I went to bed and dreamed about the memo I had just written. My dream self told me that I needed to take out the entire statement of facts because no one wants to read facts. Then I dreamed that my boss had a heart attack and this meant that I had a day off. I wonder if that is a sign that the mere five hours of sleep I get each night are catching up to me?
Today, after I handed in my project, the boss asked me to lead a conference call with the client to go over my research. It felt amazing. I knew the cases inside and out and when the client asked what year a specific case was published, I was able to rattle it off out of thin air, much to my own surprise. I felt so on fire and competent. The client would have never known that I was wearing yoga pants (working from home today).
As I was about to punch out for the day, my phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize. On the other line was the owner of a law firm near my house asking if I could interview today. I had completely forgotten that last week, after another long work night which ended at 1 a.m. I had whimsically sent my resume and a cover letter in response to a job posting I found on the internet. It was so close to my home, I figured that I had to apply.
"Can you be here in 40 minutes?" He asked.
I think the normal response would have been, "Heck yeah, I'll be there in 40 minutes" as a normal person would have proceeded to go to a clothing store and purchase something other than yoga pants for the interview. I, on the other hand, very uncooly admitted that I was wearing yoga pants. However, the interviewer was not able to reschedule anytime soon. 40 minutes from then was the only time he was free this week.
"We are a very casual firm." He prodded. "It won't bother me." No matter how casual of a firm it might have been, I doubted that they had ever conducted an interview in yoga pants.
He finally talked me into stopping by. I figured I would stop at a store on my way in and purchase any kind of pants in something close to my size that was anything but yoga pants. But the man on the other end of the line must have read my mind. He said, "Don't go buy clothing just for this interview. Honestly, just come as you are, it won't bother me."
Great. If I didn't show up in yoga pants he would know that I had bought something just for the interview against his instructions. If I DID show up in yoga pants....well, I was showing up in YOGA PANTS for heaven's sake! In the end I showed up in yoga pants. In doing so, I had just created the best interview story I have ever heard (well, aside from the one time I was interviewed by a lawyer who was chewing tobacco and spitting it into a chocolate milk container during the enitre interview).
As the interview began, the man went on and on about the position. It was for an associate attorney job in a successful practice in a niche and impressive area of law. It was a job that would require extensive travel and a hectic work schedule. It was a job that carried some degree of prestige. One that would challenge and satisfy. One that could take over my life, lead to an amazing career, and really suck me in.
Sitting there in that church-converted law office with an open floor plan filled with classic wooden desks and fancy woven rugs, clothed in my beloved yoga pants, I had a crazy realization. I couldn't help but notice how much different I am now from the me that went to lawschool.
The me that went to lawschool would have put on an ape costume and done cartwheels for this job (which is kind of funny considering that the current me hadn't even dressed for the interview and was sitting there in yoga pants). The old me would have drooled over the long hours, extensive travel, and challenging topics. The old me (the me that was a student athlete who worked every week day and babysat every week night pretty much from highschool through lawschool) would have loved this opportunity and would have worn this job on my sleeve like a fancy badge. That me was a highly motivated overachiever.
But the new me kept trying to feign interest. I actually had to force myself to sound excited and eager. While a tiny little peice of old me wanted to emerge from the murky depths of my apathy, it kept getting shut down. The overachiever that I once was has died. It didn't die overnight. It kind of fizzled away slowly. Somewhere between burning out in lawschool, having kids, and entering the dark side of my twenties, I lost that drive. When someone says, "long hours" I no longer think of an opportunity to prove myself, gain valuable experience, or work my way up the ladder of success. Now, all I can think of are the moments that I will not experience with my children. A half day of work on Saturday no longer equals a half day of extra experience and praise. It means one less trip to the zoo. One less ice cream cone enjoyed in the park. Two less meals as a family. Five less hours filled with hide and seek, bike riding, or reading stories.
Oh God. Who AM I? Who is this person who would prefer to change poopy diapers and be verbally assaulted by children than to craft clever arguments and develop litigation strategies. What in the world happened to me? Why the heck am I sitting in a prestigous law firm in two-day old YOGA PANTS?
Sadly, the longer I sat in that chair, the less I wanted that job. The Medusa-like call of success and prestige and money no longer held any power over me. As the interviewer rambled on about the 200 depositions he had taken last year, I grew sad. I had just given up an hour of rare weekday time with my kids for this?
The interview finally ended and as I walked out the door, I didn't even care whether he would call me back for round two. I was suddenly overcome with gratitude for my current job situation. Sure, my paycheck is kind of depressing but I get to spend two extra weekday mornings and afternoons with my children on the days I work from home.
I'm pretty dang lucky. Even if the old me would not have agreed.