12.23.18 - "Working Yourself To Death"

Dear Sweet Babe,

Today I want to talk to you about pay-the-bills jobs.

A pay-the-bills job is something that I would hope that you will never have to come in contact with. It is an exhausting, distracting, and frankly irksome thing that many young (or youngish…or, like your guncle, slowly yet surely leaving young and approaching old)  people have to face in their lives.

I would like you to imagine, if you will that you have finally settled on your chosen career. After long hours of fretting and second-guessing you have decided that you are going to be a teacher. You love working with kids and you know that those extra years of academia are something that you definitely know you can handle, maybe even enjoy. You graduate with honors and you are ready to face the world…but, then you realize that student loans are a thing, and any job you get is only going to pay you about three-quarters of what you need to make in order to pay your rent, buy more than ramen to eat, and, most importantly, update your wardrobe to look more like a working professional, and less like an over-worked and barely mentally stable college student.

What are you going to do?

Well, that’s where the pay-the-bills job comes in.

Y’see, sweet babe, for most working professionals in the entertainment industry, educational industry, or other marginalized professions, our careers don’t pay us nearly as much as we need to be making, so we must subsidize our income with other jobs. The food and hospitality industries are full of actors and artists, temp agencies love us, and babysitting, dog walking, and house-sitting agencies fill their ranks with our tireless spirits and true grit. Some people have pay the bills jobs that involve menial labor, like janitorial or construction work. Some people have pay the bills jobs that involve emotional labor, like personal assistance or childcare. Sometimes these jobs aren’t even pay the bills jobs for people, they are just stepping stones on the path towards a person’s ultimate career path, but ever pay-the-bills job is any job that an employee works for the simple purpose of, you guessed it, paying the bills. People don’t work in that position because they are necessarily passionate about their work, but simply because they need capital to fund their lives outside of that job.

So, you can see why a pay the bills job can be difficult. Due to no fault of their own, people’s livelihoods are so discounted by society that those in their field, after receiving a degree, are still unable to make enough money to finance their day to day lives. Then, to add insult to injury, they work jobs that often put them at the mercy of the whims of everyday people who visit their own special brand of psychological abuse on people that they know cannot defend themselves. To add on top of this undesirable situation, these individuals working these pay-the-bills jobs are required to dedicate half, or more of their days to these jobs that are not their career, relegating actual career oriented work to the back burner of their schedules, which often leads to a suffering performance in their chosen profession. This can create resentment and frustration towards their pay-the-bills job, which then leads to a suffering performance in their job. So, with a suffering performance in both their career and pay-the-bills job, these individuals then face the fear that they are failures and that every work they attempt is destined for disappointment. It is a dark path to go down.

But, is there a way for this script to be flipped? Can people have a pay-the-bills job that doesn’t throw them down this dark path?

Well, yes. The key is a balancing of traits. Every single occupation that you have, career or pay-the-bills, has several traits that make the position fulfilling or frustrating. There is the financial earning of the position, the potential for advancement, the moral fulfillment, the time allotment, and the added benefits. When we look for jobs it is important to take all of these traits into account. One position may pay very well, allow for quick advancement in the organization, and have a sweet insurance package, but it will have you working fifty hours a week and is in a field that you find morally repugnant. On the other hand (and this is a case I have often personally experienced) the position may be morally fulfilling, pay a decent wage, and require a sensible amount of work time for the pay rate, but provides no hope of advancement and no benefits to speak of.
When you are considering a position, the question you have to ask yourself is: am I comfortable with taking the good with the bad? Can you, in all honesty, stand to work for long in a position that you have no interest in, just so you can make money? Can you, in all honesty, work in a position that is a dream, even if you are working yourself to death?

Pay-the-bills jobs are a part of a lot of people’s lives. Whether it be because they can’t work in their desired field, or because they don’t believe that they deserve better, or even because they just want to make some extra cash, pay-the-bills jobs will probably always be a part of people’s realities…the key is making sure you can accept the balance…and, not forgetting to find time to pursue your dreams that bring you light.

So, sweet babe, what brings you light? What would you do to pay-the-bills?


Erik Schneider1 Comment