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July 30, 2011
Finding My Quarter-Life Crisis
Last weekend, I put in somewhere around 12 hours on my freelance articles, eight of those on Sunday alone. I woke up, went out to brunch, came home, and for eight monstrous hours I did serious work on a project that is, for all intents and purposes, optional and unpaid. I didn't look at my Gmail every minute, or my Facebook, or my Twitter, or CNN, or even my Google Reader.

Now, I've been saying I would get a handle on these articles for a long time, but it was still something that had no deadlines and which no one would absolutely freak if I never did at all. Ironically enough, as I was in the midst of patting my own back, my stupid brain got in the way. "Why am I not like this at work?"

I easily, about 100 times a day during the work week, think, “I seriously need to stop frequenting my social networking sites and do the job I'm being paid to do.” Back to the regular routine: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, Google Reader, Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, CNN, Google Reader. Rinse and repeat. Throw in an occasional glace at The Onion. I seriously do it all day, every day. Important deadlines, crushing assignments, pressing client emails — all seemingly not as important as my own personal agenda of websites. I'm even, coincidently, writing this article at work, at 2 p.m. on a Friday, with at least two end-of-week projects to finish.

Am I OCD? Addicted to the Internet? Perhaps have a wicked case of ADHD? Sometimes I seriously think I have one, if not more, of these issues. Other days, like Sunday, I have to rethink my assumptions because if I was truly incapable of focusing on my paid work, I'd have the same issue of not being able to focus on my unpaid work...the work I like...the work I want to accomplish...the work that gets accomplished.

I'd say it's an entertaining, yet annoying, mix of boredom and passive aggressiveness. I'm so bored and unchallenged with the projects given to me that I think I could do them in my sleep. Upon that realization, I passive aggressively take out my frustrations on said boring work by procrastinating on all of my assignments, confidently knowing I could do them within an hour — regardless of their importance. The result is simple. Rinse and repeat. What's that, Facebook? Of course I "Like This." @RickM, thanks for yet another more-interesting-than-my-real-work-article to read, Talent Zoo! Huh, CNN? Nancy Grace called who a what?

I started out here as a sort of Jane of all Trades. I was doing some design, some admin, some marketing, some...everything. Slowly, I worked my way up to simply doing marketing. Part of the reason my boss was so adamant on shifting me strictly to the marketing team was that I was bored out of my gourd with the mundane design and admin work. She knew the bulk of my talent was in consulting and, with a little push from yours truly, sent me on to bigger and better things. The change, thus far, has been less than beneficial because in two weeks, I've had maybe 14 hours of real, balls-to-the-wall work to do. Sure, it's less boring, but still within my limits.

Challenge me! Teach me something new! Can't you see that if you don't, (fill in a rinse-and-repeater here) will? When I do try and make an effort to fill my "down time," the busywork I make for myself is so menial — such a waste of my life and real talent. And my morals, surprisingly enough, do come into play when the thought crosses my mind to job search for a less boring (read: more challenging) job while on the current boss’ dollar.

Now, don't get me wrong. My caliber of work is always passable but rarely completed with my A Game. It’s almost safe to say that I've done extremely more advantageous things while paying my way through college as a rookie consultant. Phew, even typing that was depressing. Therefore, I blame motivation. Please save me the "You're lucky to even have a job" line. It's getting old. I also am well aware of the economic climate. I am extremely thankful to “at least have a job” given today's economy but is it so wrong to want work that I find challenging and insightful? Even remotely interesting and exciting? More so, that I see value and perspective in? Is it wrong to still seek this out while having a current pays-the-bills job?

I want something that makes me want to work, want to get it done, want to complete it with my A Game. I want something that leaves me feeling like my time has been well invested. That's what your 20-somethings are about, right? Finding that intricate balance between life and career and making sure your time and energies are spent in the most efficient and rewarding ways? I need to be inspired, challenged, worked to the bone, educated; schooled, even.

Thus starts my quarter-life crisis. I invite you all to come along for the ride. Feel free to inspire, motivate, and even criticize me. Comment with survival stories, suggestions, what-not-to-wears. I’m all ears…er, eyes!

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Natalie Czajkowski is currently a marketing coordinator for a philanthropic advisory firm. With six years of experience consulting small to mid-capped business on executing marketing strategies, she’s progressing into her quarter-life crisis slowly but surely. On her path toward world domination, she enjoys writing, traveling, the dog beach, and Cubs games. She’s in the process of blogging her QLC. More details to come.

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