Working Around Work

Finals were this week, and today I wrapped up the semester by attending an award brunch. It’s the third time I’ve been given some kind of award since I first transferred in 2012, but the first time I’ve actually attended a school function like this. Kind of a weird day, and a weird way to end the semester. This is also the first time I won’t be getting a job over the summer. And that’s really, really hard for me.

There’s a lot of factors informing this decision. One factor is timing. While I’ve been submitting resumes and looking into jobs through the school, I won’t be able to really hunt for work until the beginning of June. Unfortunately I go back to school in mid-August, which leaves me little time to get much of anything lined out. Another factor is writing, which I’m trying to get off the ground. I have to get The Crashers pushed through the production and marketing process so I can get it out by fall (I hope), while I take this time between semesters to get the next manuscript finished and typed.

Yet another factor is my current health situation, which has been complicated by chronic spinal pain and my anxiety/depression shooting well beyond manageable levels in recent months. The kind of work I can immediately find (restaurants, retail, or physical labor) is really hard for me to deal with right now, because pain and anxiety kind of feed back into each other in a loop. Pain causes anxiety, anxiety makes my muscles lock and causes more pain, etc, etc.

I’ve always worked before this year, juggling school, writing, and my personal obligations with trying to manage as many hours as possible. The pain and the anxiety had to take a backseat, because I had to hunker down and struggle through no matter what. The shitty abusive working conditions I often found myself in as a broke writer and student had to take a backseat, too, which didn’t help the pain and the anxiety.

Then I had to leave my part-time job in February to focus on getting through this semester or fall behind. Now to be without a job is really scary. I’ve saved money to cover all my immediate expenses over the summer, and my family is helping me, so I’m not in any real financial danger. Even for it, to be here is hard. Most people would find the prospect of taking the summer off to write freeing, but it makes me feel guilty. It makes me feel lazy and stupid. It makes me feel dependent, because I’m 29 years old and I can’t even take care of myself.

Part of that is the depression, and the pain, and the anxiety. Part of is how I was raised, and all the bootstrap-pulling I had drilled into me as a kid. Part of it is my father’s voice nagging at me in the back of my head, because all he cares about is money and stuff and “making sure you get yours.” I recognize that, and I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m trying to make the most of this time to get some work done.