This is a topic that I was thinking about some yesterday. It’s interesting now because we live in a time where a surprising number of people are doing the nerdy thing they seem to love for their career. You have Nerdist and Geek and Sundry that are more media focused, Watch It Played and The Dice Tower which are board game focused. There are tons of video game streamers making money out there, and even something like Pro Wrestling which has it’s nerdy fans has multiple podcasts about it where that is the people’s jobs.
I think that’s the dream for a lot of people, and it’s a dream for me, maybe someday Nerdologists will be that big, or some off shoot, but until then, how do you create that nerd/life balance?
I think this is a pretty big struggle for a lot of people, not just nerds, because there are a lot of people out there whose 9 to 5 job isn’t what they love doing. And I can understand that, like I said, my dream would be to being doing something nerdy, like writing articles and streaming content, creating nerdy podcasts, etc. full time, but that isn’t possible right now.
It’s also easy to get discouraged because you see places like Nerdist, Geek and Sundry, Watch It Played, and The Dice Tower making it happen. But, if you watch video, in particular the Q&A’s that are done on The Dice Tower, they will talk about how much work it’s been and how it’s taken them to get to where it can be their jobs. I think it’s something that we like to fantasize out of the idea of working on a nerdy thing or that we can feel discouraged about because we often don’t see what people have gone through before they make it.
Right now, I like what I do for work well enough, I enjoy computer programming, in particular web development. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t frustrating for me at times. But that’s okay, on the days when it is frustrating, I think about wanting to have Nerdologists and board game stuff in particular be my full-time job. Then I have to remind myself, what allows me to be getting a streaming system set-up, what allows me to be able to run the Nerologists website, is the job that I have. My job might not be my perfect thing, but because I have it, I can buy board games and video games. I can go watch movies, stream Netflix, watch anime without commercials.
And that’s really because I’m willing to bust my butt at a 9 to 5 (7:15 to 3:15 for me), so I can go home and do those things. Maybe eventually those things will be my job, but until I can make that happen, I can be glad that I have a job that allows me to support my habits.
Like I’ve said before, I think it can be discouraging when you see people out there in what looks like their dream job having fun all the time and you wish it was you. Rodney Smith, of Watch It Played, on his own YouTube channel has been doing some Vlogs, and it’s an interesting behind the scenes of his life and of Watch It Played, but he also talks and reflects on some interesting things. He was talking about the concept or the validity of the idea that if you are doing what you love, you’ll never have to work another day in your life. The idea that if your work is your passion it won’t be work. He’s doing what he loves, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still work sometimes to get out of bed in the morning and have to write a new script. The same with Tom Vassel from The Dice Tower, he talks about the business decisions that you still have to make while running your own nerdy thing. They do a kickstarter every year that goes about three weeks, and he talks about how stressful that time is and hoping that they’ll still have jobs at the end of the kickstarter.
So maybe that isn’t the the dream that it is always cracked up to what it should be. But maybe it is still something that you want to pursue. Just know that work will still be work, even if it is something you love. But hopefully, because you do love it, it’s worth pushing through.
But beyond that, maybe you don’t want it to be your career. Maybe you just want to figure out how you balance it with your normal life. You want to keep that 9 to 5, but sometimes it just takes too much out of you do the nerdy things you want. How do you deal with that situation?
You define boundaries at your work and in your life. If work is encroaching on too much time outside of your normal work hours, push back at it. It might be tough to do, but it is your life they are taking that away from you and aren’t paying you overtime, it might not be the right spot to be at. But work on setting those boundaries, they might not happen over night, but you can probably slowly change that.
Set aside defined times at home when you are going to do the nerdy things. Whether that set aside Tuesday evenings for binge watching anime or for playing board games, set it aside. That time is now sacred to that event, and don’t schedule something else over it. Especially don’t schedule something you won’t like as much. If someone asks you to come to their birthday party with 20 people you don’t know, it’s okay to decline. However, if someone asks you to see Avengers: Endgame again for the 5th time, and you really like it, you’ll still get that nerdy joy from going to that again. So figure it out that way. Generally though, try and keep that time sacred. I have two board game nights generally scheduled every other week, one of them the two people are really good at keeping the Tuesday free. The Wednesday one, people are more apt, even though it’s on a regular schedule, to flake out on it randomly.
That leads into the next thing. outside of work, spend time with people who can help support your nerdy habits. Now, maybe it’s fine to have someone flake out on you from time to time, but if it becomes a habit, you’re going to find yourself at a nerdy deficit. For me this is really important because I’m an extrovert, so when I’ve had people flake at the last minute on what was going to be my nerdy and extrovert outlet until the weekend, it can really suck, and it digs into my sire to do nerdy things, but also energy for work, which means I might have to work longer to get the same amount of stuff done.
I don’t know that I’ve given any perfect solution or any real hope for getting that perfect nerd life balance. It’s most likely always going to be a struggle, and it’s going to be a struggle at times even if you’re doing nerdy work. It’s always going to be that struggle and that tension of work and life out there that compete against each other. It’s okay to feel bummed about it at times, but it is possible to focus in and find those bits of time that you do have to do those nerdy things.
What are some things you’ve found that make nerd life balance happen in your own life?
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