During one of my internships in college, I noticed a newspaper quote clipped to my boss’ bulletin board. The quote read “you make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give.” I became fascinated with this quote. In fact, if you email me today, it is still at the footer of my email signature. But, that is besides the point. At the time, in my naivity, I thought, of course, giving, that is all that I need to do and the world will be merry, and I went off on my jolly way.
My first job out of college (ok… I’m only on my second), I was deemed a Road Warrior. Have you ever heard of that movie with George Clooney called Up in the Air, where he spends the majority of his life in airports, and he can’t seem to maintain a normal relationship outside of his job. Yep… that was me.
My average week consisted of 60-70 working hours, excluding travel time. I once left my client site at 4AM, only to go back to my hotel, shower and return two hours later. My co-workers and I used to joke that if you actually calculated our hourly rate, we could file a lawsuit on our company for failing to pay the government regulated minimum wage.
After that whirlwind of a life, I only pause now to think.. do you actually get what you give? Or, is there a fine line between giving and getting taken advantage of, and where does the line need to be drawn?
I mean, don’t get me wrong.. I did get a lot from the job. I certainly would not be where I am today without it. But, I do think, that during that time, I gave a little piece of myself that I will never get back. And, I’m not sure that I was truly willing to give that up…
What do you think? Have you ever given something away with little in return? How do you know when to draw the line?