An Update

Cooking Life The Working World Twenties

Dinner, the highlight of my day since 2011.


I got home late this evening, so I threw together a box of butternut squash risotto that I picked up a whole foods, as well as some brussels roasted in garlic olive oil. Simple, but awesome.


Even more awesome, was this homemade peanut butter cup that I dug out of my suitcase. Ashley gave it to me at Foodbuzz and I completely forgot about it. Oh my goodness, was it tasty and there was a surprise rice crunch in the middle!

So about that whole taking back my twenties thing. I met quite a few bloggers this weekend, and after hearing the premise behind TBT, many people asked, Well, how’s it going? I thought about sugar coating my answer, but decided to be honest. With a smile, I said I’m totally failing at it.

You see, I’m not adjusting well to working 9 hour days and I’m totally wishing away the weeks (something I vowed not to do). As you know from my almost daily complaints, I’m tired and never feel like doing much (despite 8+ hours). I’m just assuming this is a normal part of the transition to full-time work? I don’t know how people can spend so many waking hours in an office and feel fulfilled. I went to regular spinning today (I’ve been doing SYNC Cycle), and during an awesome song, I realized I haven’t felt energized or inspired by exercise in weeks. Because exercise either occurs at the crack of down, when I’m a zombie, or not at all. In the past, when I’ve felt overwhelmed or unhappy in my daily life , whether it be because of a test, a school project, or lots of things to be done around the house, I just dream of the summer or a time when I’ll be free to just be. But with only ten days off a year, there is no extended time to just be. And that feeling is suffocating. I keep thinking to myself I miss my life – it’s been taken away from me, and I need to take it back!

I’d also like to have Matt back. That is all.

  • Jill
    November 9, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    Dude! I kinda can imagine how you are feeling. Back in the day when I was working as a nurse (lots of OT) I was SO burnt out. I would come home and collapse into my bed. My whole life was out of balance–and for what? I think writing down your goals and working towards them is huge. Sure actions speak louder than words but be kind to yourself and just know whatever you are feeling right at this point in your life–it is valid and it will change. Faster than you can even guess.

    Now I am a SAHM and I would have NEVER imagined this would be my life in a million years. Good luck to you on taking your life back on this bumpy road we all have to travel. 🙂 Smiles cyber sent from CA!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the advice. I seem to have a lot of goals, but a hard time thinking of ways to reach them since I’m burnt out on school work and out of money from graduate school. I also have a hard time knowing that I’m moving in two years because I don’t want to spend too much time making a life for myself here, if I’m just going to leave. Thanks for the smiles!!

  • Jennifer L
    November 10, 2011 at 12:25 am

    Just wanted to say I really know how you feel. It seems to me the only way to be fulfilled is to have a fulfilling job… But we can’t all have our dream jobs.

    If there aren’t a ton of people out there who feel the same, they must not be thinking about life hard enough. Philosophy can be both friend and foe…

    Just wanted to say you’re not the only one

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm


  • M
    November 10, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Awesome post– I agree. Even when I DID love my job, it felt hard to feel content being chained to it for 9+hours a day plus commuting. No time to just “be” as you said. I am an introvert and really need that time.

    How’s Matt liking his program? I just started a grad program in August and its tough. Doing an MBA at Duke is tough, I’m sure. It would be neat to see a guest post from him on his experience, if he’s ever not so busy!

    Also– as I type in your comment box, I wanted to point out that it’s kind of hard to read this gray text. Maybe you could make it black? Just a constructive suggestion. 🙂

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Matt LOVES the program. It’s the perfect example of someone who is exhausted, but totally loves the work and feels that it’s worth his effort. Not sure if I can change the grey because my theme is pretty basic, but I’ll look into it.

  • Lisa
    November 10, 2011 at 6:01 am

    i can identify with almost every update you write, especially this one. kudos to you for putting it all out there (here?). i’ve been working my first post-grad school ‘grown up’ job since june and i keep asking this it?

    hope you enjoy the weekend!


    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks – enjoy your weekend as well:)

  • Sarah
    November 10, 2011 at 8:13 am

    I totally sympathize with you. Its hard to find the balance between work and play. Hang in there. We don’ all have the awesome jobs or the time on our hands to feel like life is what we want but I do think it gets easier or a new opportunity arises.

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

      I sure hope so!

  • Megan @ Notes to Hunter
    November 10, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I can totally relate Laura! They only years I felt fulfilled working in an office was when I worked for Dana-Farber and felt like I was actually making a difference in people’s lives. But I will say that the grass is usually greener. When Chris was at FuquaI spent two years at an awful, unfulfilling job impatiently waiting to become a stay at home mom. And now that I am one there are days when all I want to do is go back to work! Staying at home with a baby all day is a lot harder than I thought. Sometimes I just want to go to an office to have social interaction and the ability to be in front of the computer without someone’s fingers all over it.
    And you will see Matt so much more his second year! The first year is tough with all of the group work, but next year will be a lot different.
    I hope you have met some nice Fuqua Partners! I’ve been keeping up with your posts and they make me miss Durham!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

      It’s fun to hear from you! I feel like part-time work would be PERFECT for me now and when I [hopefully] have children. I’d feel like such a slacker working part-time this early in my career though. I’ve met some wonderful partners and it’s good to know that I will see Matt more next year.

      PS – Hunter is one of the most adorable babies I have ever seen!

  • Kat
    November 10, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I totally get it. I really do. For me, it took a few hysterical breakdowns (we’re talking SERIOUSLY ugly cries), cutting my hours and redoing my schedule. It is only now, for the first time since I graduated college that I actually enjoy coming into work, doing work and seeing my co-workers.

    Thinking of you, lady!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:02 pm

      Thanks:) My ultimate goal is to get to the point where I can ask for more pay and fewer hours, just like you!!

  • Suzanne C.
    November 10, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I totally understand how you are feeling. I don’t hate my job, but I don’t love it. I am also in part-time grad school, which eats up the rest of my free time. My boyfriend is also in school, though law school. He says he is so ready to make money, but I am so jealous of the week breaks he gets and get really cranky when he has time off and I don’t. I tell him to be a student forever!

    I think for me, I have decided that it is really hard to find a job that fulfills you in every way. Yes, there are some people who achieve this, but I would say most don’t. For me, having good coworkers is important. But, I also strive to do things outside of work that are fulfilling. I volunteer at a cooking school, train for races, travel. Pick something outside of work that makes you happy.

    I also remember being really tired when I first started working. It gets easier. Good luck!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      My co-workers are awesome and I really love working at Duke, but it’s just so.much.time! I love doing stuff after work too, but I always feel guilty when I spend money or when I need to be doing things around the house that don’t happen when I’m at work. Thanks for the advice:)

  • Lindsay
    November 10, 2011 at 9:21 am

    I feel you on missing your boyfriend! Mine and I are both in grad school, and we don’t live together so we really just see each other on the weekends (despite both living in Boston!)
    However, I feel like I’m waiting for my life back when I’ll be out working again! School is great with all of the breaks but I really miss the ability to make money, spend money and have actual free time. While in school, there’s always something you should be doing (even if you don’t want to). Although the lack of vacation time while working is daunting, I think it might be helpful to think that whenever you leave your office (for a lunch break, end of the day, weekend) – your time is completely yours! No paper to finish or test to study for. You have the freedom to go sit outside and read a book during lunch, come home and have time to make a nice dinner, veg out on the couch, take weekend trips – all without having to feel guilty about not spending time on schoolwork! Maybe acknowledging that every moment of free time is completely yours will help.

    I know its hard when the other half of a couple is in school while one is working (I was working during my boyfriends first year of law school) because you can’t always do fun things together… but use the time as best you can to be a little independent, explore your new city and do things that make you happy. Hopefully the 2nd year will get better like other commenters suggest, I know law school definitely improved after the first year…. Overall though, I think it’s normal to go through a bit of a stagnant period in your 20’s, waiting for the next thing to come along. I know I’m feeling it now. Good luck in your efforts to try and enjoy it though!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:10 pm

      Wow – that must be very tough for both of you:( The grass is ALWAYS greener for me. I’m definately very happy to be finished with school work and the weekend free time is fabulous – which is one reason I’m only living for the weekends now! I totoally hear what you’re saying about all time being my time, but I’m still pretty restricted on my lunch break, and at night, the idea that I have to spend an hour preparing for the next work day and get in bed at 9:30 haunts me.

      Good luck with school!

  • Heather
    November 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    This post really struck a chord with me since I’m going through exactly what you are at this point in my life. I used to be able to tolerate my job despite not loving it since my coworkers are awesome and my bosses were reasonable, however now that the boss front has changed it’s really made me realize how unhappy I am.

    I don’t want to spend my life wishing away 5 days of the week. Despite my husband having a very busy grad school schedule, life outside of work is great!

    I toy around all the time with career changes all of the time. Do you think if you worked in more of a school environment it would make you happier? Office life can be brutally draining. Good luck to you!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Who knows – the school environment was a bit more fulfilling, but the thought of working in a school that starts at 7:30 is horrible too.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck!

  • Elizabeth
    November 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

    I love reading your blog because I can 100% relate to how you feel. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who feels 9hrs+ a day eats up my entire life. On top of that I have a dog who I ADORE, but he requires 1.5-2hrs a day of walking. That is 11+ hours of my day already gone! And I sit at work bored with my work or lack there of and wonder why I waste my time, time I could spend doing something more important, something that meant something to me and to others.

    If you find the answer, let me know, until then just know you are not alone!

    Hope you and Matt can find some time to spend together soon. 🙂

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks:) Maybe I need a dog!

  • Rachel
    November 10, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Hi Laura,

    I’ve never commented on your blog before but I just had to because this absolutely strikes a chord with how I’m feeling. I just accepted my first full-time job yesterday….it’s a 9 hour day, with close to a 2 hour commute each way. My boyfriend also has a terrible commute and we don’t live together so I’m barely going to be able to see him. I’m absolutely terrified out of my mind – the job does align with some of my interests but for some reason I still feel like i’m getting into something way over my head that I just won’t be able to handle. I was in such a rush to graduate college, but now I realize that at most points in my life I’ve been rushing towards the next big thing and now….there’s just this yawning chasm of work stretching before me. And if I’m leaving for work at 7 am and getting home at 8 at night, when am I supposed to exercise or do anything that I enjoy?? I’ve been having a complete meltdown for the last couple days and I just keep thinking “this can’t be right – I shouldn’t feel like this.” Something just feels wrong about it all….
    So thanks so much for saying what you did in this post….I really love when you talk about your struggles with this time, it’s reassuring to know that other people feel like this and I’m not just totally being pathetic!!!
    Hang in there!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      Congrats on your new job! Make sure you think it through though, because you def. don’t want to be stuck in a job that doesn’t feel right. Commutes can really be draining too!

  • Sarah G
    November 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Up until this past summer, I was working at Duke (in research) and my husband was getting his PhD there, and I think we often had a similar experience to what you’re going through–not feeling fulfilled at the 9-5 job then coming home and not seeing the significant other at all, since they are so overloaded in school.
    I created a good group of girlfriends, that got together regularly (book club, drinks, walk/run around east campus, attending Duke sporting events, meet for coffee or tea) so that I had something to look forward to after work. I am not sure how your work environment is, but I was able to complete all my job tasks fairly quickly in the day, so I had a fair amount of down-time, which I used for recipe planning, blog searching, learning more about hobbies, etc.
    Also, when I wasn’t feeling fulfilled at work, I talked to my boss about it, and I asked for more responsibilities. He ended up getting me on an additional project where I got to write a paper that got published and help on other papers. It gave me more ownership for my position, which made me happier in the office.
    It also doesn’t sound like you are in your ideal job, so perhaps you can use a bit of extra time at work figuring out what kind of job WOULD be ideal for you–one where you enjoyed going to the office each day–and figuring out how to get there, either now or once Matt’s done with school.

    Not sure if any of that helps, but I certainly understand what you’re going through.

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      Thanks – that does help:) I’ve done a lot of thinking about my ideal job both now and during grad school…I’m just soo moody sometimes, that it seems to change constantly!

  • HRCK
    November 10, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    I really appreciate the honesty in these posts. I think most people try to smile and say that they LOVE their jobs, but I think that few people do (ESPECIALLY not early in their careers).

    And I totally hear how the limited amount of time in a place makes you hesitant to become entrenched in life there. I felt similarly when I was doing a one year grad program last year. Where do you think you’ll end up after Matt finishes?

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

      Wherever Matt gets a job, but hopefully a mid-sized city in the south or mid-atlantic!!

  • Krista
    November 10, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I know the transition from student to working girl can be tough, but I think you have to look at the positives. You may only get 10 days off a year, but that is likely to change the longer you are there, and acrew more hours & unlike when you’re a student, you can choose when you want to take those days. Also, be smart about it & shoulder it with a weekend or a holiday-this will make it seem like you ahve more days off! Also, pat yourself on the back for finding a great job so early on in your career search, at a great institution, if anything this will look great on your resume when you go to apply for that dream job of yours!

    A couple other things:You live in a beautiful loft that others would die to have, seriously so original & cute! Enjoy your alone time for now, get to know yourself in this “alone” period. And maybe push yourself when you don’t feel like making anything special or working out after a long day at the office. Make it a goal to make one “fancy” meal for yourself per week. You’d be surprised how effective goal setting can be.

    This was a grat post, Lauren. You’re doing great, don’t get too down about your current situation.

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 6:14 pm

      Thanks! I do love my loft, but I love it so much that I wish I got more time with it:)

  • Kristen
    November 10, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Hey Laura,

    First of all – I’ve been reading you for a while – my mom’s family is from Boston and I live in Durham – so your blog is right up my alley and I love having someone to read that I can relate to!

    I feel you on the feeling that work takes up all your time – I work down the road at a very ahem, red, school, in a job I really enjoy but between work and the commute it takes up 10 hours of my day! You do start to adjust and I don’t know if they have a good employee program for using the gym at Duke but they do here and I often go on my lunch hour which has been so useful to get home and know my workout (even if it’s just a yoga class or 3o minutes on a bike) is done!

    • Laura
      November 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      So cool that you live right here!! I belong to the Duke gym, but find I’m too tired after work and too lazy to drive there at 6am, so I usually just go to the tiny apartment gym. As for lunch break work-outs, I know I need to try them again, but I just hate rushing and having to go through the entire shower routine at lunch… Good luck with your job at the red school:)

  • Kelli H (Made in Sonoma)
    November 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Wow, you’ve got a huge response here on this subject!

    Let’s see, I’ve worked in an office since January 2008. When I first started, it was exciting because I was learning new things. I relate to you when you talk about how 9 hours a day eats up all your time. I just don’t see how you can change that? Unless, you can afford to work part-time or find something that satisfies you completely. I always think as long as you don’t hate your job, you’re doing pretty good.

    I’ve found just having things to fulfill me outside of work helps. I recently rescued a puppy who has added so much enjoyment to my life. I’ve taken up yoga, and of course blogging. All these are great things to make me happy when I’m not working.

    I think it may just be the reality of adulthood. I don’t think everyone does what they love. I don’t even know what I would do if I didn’t work where I am now. I honestly am not sure what my dream job is.

    Good luck on your path of taking back your twenties!! I love following you on your journey.

  • Kaci
    November 11, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    OH MY GOSH ME TOO ME TOO ME TOO!! I’m 23, graduated from college in May (psych degree), & started my -st full-time job in August. To say it’s been a tough transition is an understatement. I feel so lost & like I’m missing out. I don’t want to be the person who hates their job & only lives for the weekends, but unfortunately, that’s me right now. 🙁 As much as I hate that you’re down & struggling with your job, I so love reading your blog because I can relate, which honestly brightens my day. Reading this post makes me feel like I’m not alone & weird for feeling the way I do. I wish you all the best & know someday you’ll find the job that’s right for you! Happy Friday dear!!

    • Laura
      November 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you:)

  • Marlo
    November 11, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    This is called life. Yes, work takes up most of your time, and you have very limited time off per year, very limited time to yourself thru the year, and you’re always tired and there’s never enough money and so on and so forth. Did you think you’d be exempt from these things?
    Think of how lucky you are to HAVE a job, and a nice place to live, a roof over your head and food on your table. You’re unfulfilled? That’s a first world problem. Get out there and start living your life–you only go around once—rather than talking about how you don’t have one.

    You seem like a nice person. You’re obviously intelligent, thoughtful and honest. LIVE your LIFE!

    • Laura
      November 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      That’s exactly my point – I can’t LIVE MY LIFE at a desk. I’m extremely appreciative and in love with my non-work life; thus why I want more time for it! I guess we just define ‘living’ differently. I don’t feel inspired or alive right now, which to me suggests that something needs to change. Thanks for the thought-provoking comment:)

      • Katie
        November 13, 2011 at 9:29 am

        I have to agree with Marlo. Your actual life circumstances (employed, no truly horrible money troubles, loving family, smart and kind boyfriend, no serious medical issues, friendly co-workers, etc.) are not reflected by your feelings about your life.

        I know I was in a very similar situation just last year, and now, looking back from where I am now, I cannot believe I thought feeling just a little bit miserable about my work/life was normal. I still have days when I am not 100% fulfilled (deadlines, projects not working, boss trouble) – but I have many mechanisms I’ve accumulated that help me manage low-grade chronic stress.

        Do you think it’s possible that you are so sad about your working life because you’re in the “2-years then we leave” limbo? Two years is a long time to spend with the decision to not put down roots in a place. It’s an extremely long time to wait out Matt’s schooling until you move to a new place! Have you tried making friends outside those you have in common with Matt? Not ones out of the business school couples, or at your work? Ones that do something else entirely? Meet someone from spin after the class for coffee? Put down your own independent roots, and make friends – even if you’ll leave “soon” (100+ weeks, or 500 weekdays).

        Also, it sounds like you are being negatively influenced by low-grade yet constant stress. I know how it feels – the start of grad school was like that for me. I found what worked best for me was going back to my bookworm roots. For a while, I had convinced myself that I was too tired for reading after a long (long long long weekdays and weekends) of reading academic literature. Wrong! I try my best to have a book to look forward to when I get home – EVERY DAY. I don’t even have to wait for my boyfriend to come home to start relaxing (he works crazy hours, similar to Matt). I cannot wait to get home (or go to a coffee shop) and read. Looking forward to non-work enjoyment that’s both free and independent of anyone else’s availability actually helped me enjoy my workweek more. Every work day, I would be thinking about my reading from the night before, looking forward to reading more. I don’t know if you’re a book-lover, but I assume there’s something you love doing that’s free (or basically free) and that you can use to relax and enjoy your day – EVERY DAY. I truly believe that if you can get to a place where you look forward to every evening, you can eventually get to liking the work days, too.

        Total aside for gym workouts – have you tried lifting weights at lunch? It’s not a sweaty enough activity to require a shower, and it can be done in 25 minutes if you do supersets!

        • Laura
          November 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm


          Thanks for taking the time to write this advice! I actually have gotten back in to reading lately (just finished Ladder of Years and now am re-reading Jane Eyre). I’m perfectly happy with my evenings, whether it’s reading, going to happy hour, occasionally getting to see my parents, dinner dates with friends, and, of course, blogging! I think the partners I’ve met at Duke are a wonderful resource for me because they are all going through the same things with their boyfriends/husbands and I’m really enjoying getting to know them. I do look forward to my evenings every single day – it’s obviously the best part of the day! But that doesn’t really change the fact that I’m questioning my career path and whether a nine hour day in the office is right for me. The two year timeline is affecting my career exploration, because it’s hard to find the right path when you’re in a place for such a short time, but it’s not negatively impacting my mentality outside of work (i.e. friends and hobbies). I don’t ever expect to be 100% fulfilled by going to work every day, but I do think that people can find work that inspires them and makes them feel excited to get up in the morning. And I think it’s ok to complain about the process of finding that path – it doesn’t mean that I’m not thankful for the things I DO have.

          Also, I love your idea about lifting weights during lunch hour and will try that in the future!

  • Katie Cummings
    November 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I totally know how you feel. My girlfriends and I regularly discuss how we can get better at living the 5/7 of our lives that occur during the week. What helps me is have goals and things I’m focusing on. Your spin class is a great example of that! I also try to take some time to just be quiet, it helps me gather myself and figure out what is truly important.

  • MaryBe
    November 15, 2011 at 10:04 am

    It sounds like you enjoy your job, but that the day is just too long. Is going part time a possibility? 6 hours would be better than 9!
    Just wondering – does the time change have anything to do with your blah-ness? It’s very depressing now when I have to turn the lights on at 4:00! In the summer we eat dinner around 10p because we’re so busy, and now we eat at 6 then zone out on the sofa. I know we need to kick that habit quick. but the lack of sunshine is killing me
    Hope you find a cure for your blues soon

    • Laura
      November 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      YES – part time work would be perfect, but I can’t afford to do that at this job:( I actually don’t think the time change has affected me – I love having light back in the morning again because I’m ususally up at 6. And I pretty much always want dinner at 6p:) Thanks for the comment!!

  • Saz
    December 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

    Hey I found your blog while searching for opinions about the working world…Yesh it’s really terrible. I was in a 9-6 job for 4 years ever since I graduated from school. The reason I stayed on was because the colleagues and bosses were so awesome, even thou the job was really boring. I decided to make a change… I thought I would be happier switching to an entirely different line with much lower pay but get to pursue your interests. However, the working hours are really long – 9 hours a day, 6 days a week! For the past few weeks ever since I started, I felt like I have been disconnected from my own life. No time to watch movies, hang out with friends or absolutely doing anything I want, not even exercise. I used to have lots of time and weekends to do all these stuff in the previous job. Moreover, I am trying very hard to fit into the new environment. Can’t seem to communicate well with the colleagues. Their culture and way of working are entirely different… I connect so well with the previous colleagues within a few days!
    What o a quarter-life crisis… Not sure if I should switch back to that kind of 9-5 job again but I would feel like a quitter, that feeling sucks.
    Hope everyone who is struggling will find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow!

    • Laura
      December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am

      Wow, that sounds tough:( Are you at least enjoying the more meaningful work? Will your hours continue to be so intense?
      Good luck!