This I Believe

Ben - West Jordan, Utah
Entered on November 15, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work

I work in customer service for a health insurance company. When people ask what I do, that’s exactly what I tell them, expect my voice is apologetic and I use the word just: Oh, I just work in customer service for a health insurance company. People seem to understand my thoughts about the job, and they don’t press for more details.

I’m not required to be at work until 8:15, but I rise each morning at five o’clock, because I believe it takes hard work and sacrifice to realize your dreams.

It’s not easy prying myself from the bed’s cozy embrace so early in the morning. Not a day goes by when I don’t entertain thoughts of disemboweling my alarm clock and crawling back under the covers. But I will myself to the shower, and when the hot water has soaked into my skin, the desire for sleep has been replaced by a hunger to move one step closer to my goal.

When I arrive to the office, two hours before my shift starts, I am invigorated, anxious to give form to the thoughts brewing in my mind. I eagerly turn on my computer, breathe in the stillness of the slumbering building, and set my fingers to work on my keyboard.

A few of my coworkers are aware of my routine, the ones who arrive early and initially wondered how I got such a good parking spot. Why on earth are you here so early, they wanted to know. I was hesitant the first time I answered, because I know how it sounds. “I want to be a writer”—it’s one of those declarations that’s treated with disbelief, like saying you want to be an actor, or a dancer, or a magician.

I imagine that after their obligatory nods of approval, they rolled their eyes a little while walking away, probably questioning my sanity. I don’t blame them. They’ve never read anything of mine, so for all they know, I might be just another guy whose emails confuse the possessive ‘your’ with the conjunction of ‘you are’. Their doubt is valid, and it motivates me even more.

My writing doesn’t stop once my shift begins, though. Sure, it’s delayed a little—there’s that pesky job thing, followed by my commute home to see my wife off to her job, and then taking over babysitting duties of our two children—but once the kids are in bed at night, the TV goes off and it’s right back to work. I have no time for another hospital drama or ‘CSI: New Hampshire’; my own stories are still out there, waiting for me to discover them.

It doesn’t leave much time for leisure, this schedule of mine. There are days when I just want to put my feet up and turn my brain off. But in life, as in farming, you can’t reap what you don’t sow. And those are words I believe.