The Mental Gymnastics of Working for Others
I hadn’t slept the whole night. My hands were shaking, and I could hardly see out of my eyes as the computer illuminated my room — the sun peeking out ever so slightly over the horizon. I had been so desperate and out of touch with working for others that I had signed on the dotted line before taking stock of what I was in for. I thought I could hold out, but I am barely making a living wage, and I feel foolish — AGAIN.
Millions of people suffer from severe burnout, anxiety, and a host of other mental health issues when it comes to the hustle and struggle of merely existing in this world.
Some people are lucky to have the superpower of compartmentalizing their lives and never knowing what it means to physically tremble from the weight of one’s job or thoughts or daily life. But for the rest of us, it is a minefield out there, and no matter the job, we always find ourselves at the mercy of others.
No Money, More Problems
Complaining to my sister for the umpteenth time in a row, she hit the nail on the head — when someone tells me to do something, I constantly think I have no power — as if I’m still a child and these are the rules, and they cannot be broken. The anxiety I have in following said rules and still barely making my rent each month is like a perfect storm. A one-way ticket to a nervous breakdown because my body is doing all it can to protect me —which can be stressful and painful and, quite frankly, not helpful at all.
Even when clients, managers, whoever, are stepping over clear boundaries — I don’t speak up, nope, not me — I simply shrivel up under the pressure.
I get too in my feelings when in reality, I have far more control than I like to believe. But putting the man in his place or attempting to, requires a lot of energy I don’t have. There is a limited amount of time in a day — in life — and I am doing my best to protect my sanity or the little I have left. This means I hustle and struggle each day to make pennies doing work for someone that outright ignores that I am an independent contractor — not an employee; I then lay my head down each night, trying not to regret every decision I have ever made.
So really, it’s just a vicious cycle.
Ground Down While Down and Out
These past few weeks, I have woken up every day with my heart feeling like it’s being crushed. My body is stiff as I move about, and other people’s work consumes me. I want to quit, but it’s a mind fuck looking for work — a full-time job in itself.
Then, of course, there are the what ifs — like what if I this is it? or what if I don’t find anything as steady, and I really should have stayed in that office job I had a decade ago?
I thought this contract gig would have been a stepping stone in my freelance career. But they are taking the piss as most of these places do, and since I am continuously toeing the line with destitution — I feel I have no choice but to stick it out.
Digging yourself out of poverty is difficult, and you are always looked upon more harshly for your decisions because of your lack of money — when everybody knows if money wasn’t an issue, no one would really question my desire to leave such piss poor conditions.
Sometimes the voice in my head tells me things won’t get better, that I’ll be crying on the floor in a puddle of my own making if I jump ship without lining something up to keep me afloat. And I have been desperately trying to hold out — wanting so badly to not make any more poor decisions.
I had two years to make my creative endeavors happen, and all I have to show for it is a dormant YouTube page and a stalled writing career. If I walk away now, am I somehow going to turn things around magically when I didn’t scrape the surface, even when I had the time?
This might all sound like the ramblings of a snotty millennial who doesn’t want to work…
But I have hustled for far too long, and I am getting on years — I want a bit of peace.
The constant going through the motions is mind-numbing, and I have lost all sense of purpose. My goals feel silly and fleeting with my financial situation. I had no illusions about my anxiety or depression disappearing, but I certainly didn’t think I would be suffering daily panic attacks from a job I don’t even want. In truth, I thought I was long past working for undesirable people or at least not working with as many. Coming full circle feels odd and disheartening.
BUT THERE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE — kinda, sorta — if we are lucky.
So I am making lists and grieving the life I thought I would have, and moving forward as best I can.
Maybe by this time next week, I will have found a position that at least pays well or, you know, a livable wage. You never know — miracles happen every day.
How is your career going?
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