Every year in May, Yale students hear a commencement speech, throw their caps in the air, hug their parents and run straight off to high-powered jobs in some big coastal city. Seeing as we’re finally leaving the stresses of the Ivy League behind, I find it sad that so many of my classmates seem to believe that post-collegiate life is meant for work and nothing more. That’s why, when I graduate in a year-and-a-half, I’m going to make damn sure that my new job allows me ample time to travel the world, socialize with interesting people and assassinate naive government contractors who’ve stumbled onto something so fucking big it’d blow their goddamn minds if they knew how far up it went. That’s right: I believe that there is nothing more important than a healthy work/secret life balance.
Now, I’m aware that finding a healthy balance between employment and the shadowy dealings you do under an assumed name and cover of darkness isn’t easy in the new economy. Most jobs assume that 20-somethings have no outside commitments, and a surprising number of places run sorta-invasive background checks these days. But don’t believe the hype: Not every job is 80 hours a week. In fact, step back from the world of finance and consulting, and you’ll find that there are a surprising number of fields that give you ample time to have midnight duels with a gravelly-voiced man in the silent fields outside Sarajevo.
Be aware, though: In establishing this balance, communication, early and often, is key. When you’re interviewing for a job, ask your prospective boss how many personal days the company allows for surreptitious midweek trips to Moscow or elaborate, sadistic games of cat-and-mouse with heavily-tattooed arms dealers. The biggest mistake you can make in establishing a healthy work/secret life balance is to assume. If you just take it for granted that you can take the last two weeks of August off, you can kiss that job goodbye, even if you’re leaving because that’s when Don Marcone visits his villa in Sicily, the one with no security cameras and a number of easy-to-access nearby rooftops. The good news is that bosses tend to understand; After all, odds are that they’ve got secret lives too!
Once you’ve found a job that can accommodate both you the worker and you the internationally wanted killer of Zagreb Slâvok, I’ve got one more piece of advice: enjoy it! Our culture is toxic in a number of ways, and one of those is that we so often put work ahead of secret life. Some people — your peers, your relatives, the one-eyed Norwegian with nothing to lose who’s been tailing your car for the last 12 miles — might tell you that you’re lazy for taking time off work for your secret life. They’re wrong, of course, but their words can hurt, so just remember that a healthy work/secret life balance is actually the norm around the world. In France, workers are required to take three weeks of paid vacation each year, which they can spend at the beach, in the mountains, chasing a certain femme fatale who’s made off with the nuclear launch codes down a busy alleyway in Casablanca or even having a relaxing staycation at home!
The most important thing is to establish a good balance between your day job and those dealings that are just between you and the god of vengeance early in your career. It’s easy to fall into a habit of working yourself to death in your 20s. But think about how nice the work/secret life balance you’ve established for yourself will be when you get into your 30s and beyond! You’ll be able to have a fulfilling job and live a full life — you can go to baseball games to track down a nosy union boss, spend the holidays at home just to make sure that your uncle keeps EXTRA quiet about that phone call he overheard last year and even start a family with that sweet little deep-cover agent in Serbia!
In the end, when you’re looking back on your life, you’re going to have to reflect on the choices you made. Do you want to remember a full, rich life of false identities, clever disguises and disposing of bodies in industrial furnaces? Or would you rather remember 40 years behind a desk?
I know which one I’d choose. Do you?
Contact Micah Osler at firstname.lastname@example.org