What Do We Call This

The older I get, the more in control I like to be. Suddenly things like “planning ahead” and “knowing what to expect” are important to me, and to my sense of well-being. This strikes me as odd. I thought that responsibility came with family and possessions and, since I have neither, I would somehow get to live to avoid it. That line of thinking seems to be untrue.

In order to deal with the stress in my life, in my money, I took on a second job. It’s becoming clear to me, the longer that I’m employed there, that working a night shift in a gas station, in an impoverished town filled with addicts is likely not a safe place for me to spend a lot of time, to build relationships; it kind of feels like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

There was a time, and it doesn’t feel too long ago, when I would simply quit this second job. If I hated it, I would quit it, no questions asked. There was an even more recent time when I would do the more responsible thing, and give notice. If I didn’t feel unquestionably safe to stay sober, then I had to politely protect myself by moving on.

I’ve convinced myself that I cannot quit this job. I have got to make sure that I am taken care of through the winter. I have got to be able to pay off my debt. I have to keep this job just in case I really do lose my other job.

I’ve agreed to some weekend and evening side projects for my landlord in order to earn even more cash on the side. This offer was made to me before my primary job came under fire, it was made when I was first beginning to realize that it might not be wise to work at the gas station. If I combine my faith with my logic, it seems pretty clear that this third offering was likely put in place by God; God who heard the fear of my heart and, with a nod, opened a different door to achieving these new money needs.

I’ve somehow convinced myself, now, that I need all three jobs. Side jobs aren’t predictable, they aren’t steady. I’ve got to keep all my jobs and, if I do end up making a bunch of extra money, I can pay my way out of debt sooner. Besides, what if I lose my primary job?

And that’s where I lose control and the anxiety starts. There’s nothing I can do to affect whether I keep or lose that job. What if I quit one of my jobs, get fired from another, and am living on just the side jobs, then what would I do? I don’t want to become one of the nations unemployed. What would people say?

Is this what getting “older and more responsible” looks like? Does responsible have to start outweighing the avoidance of temptation at some point? Or, is this what self-sabotaging looks like?

And how does everything always come back to ‘what will people say’?

4 thoughts on “What Do We Call This

  1. it really is a shame how we bring it back around to what others will think. but we do. Seems to me God has provided for you well and amen to that. As to if you should keep all the jobs He really will tell you. Just ask then see what happens. Truth is no matter if you are in the slums working a cash register ot in a cooperate office God wants to give His grace to others through you and that’s a real blessing I’d say. Again I love your transparency and truth.

    1. At the end of it all, the question really is do I trust God enough, and His place in my life? Do I trust that I will be able to find another job? Do I trust that I am strong enough to withstand temptation? It’s just like you said, God has provided well for me and amen to that! I have no reason to think he still isn’t.

      Thanks for continuing to read and for your thoughtful comments. 🙂

  2. I think this is a natural progression. We all begin to value predictability, routine, and responsibility more the older we get. Part of this comes from the realization that our time is finite and our working lives do not last forever and we don’t want to end up old, in debt, and unable to take care of ourselves. Another part comes from society in general. You hit a certain age (it varies, but I think it is sometime between 26 and 30) where suddenly it’s no longer cool to live paycheck to paycheck. Your social life starts to depend on having some spare coin lying around (nobody likes a mooch), and your social standing depends on doing something that society deems productive. I don’t think this is related to “what will people say” so much, as it is to your own feeling of self worth (which is easy to project onto others). I am a firm believer that all internally motivated people feel this pressure.

    So I think your worry and your desire to hedge your bets with multiple jobs is perfectly natural. I am not a religious person, but I do believe that the world gives us many opportunities, and it is our job to do the best with the opportunity we are currently exploring until the next one comes along. You will know it when you see it, and it is inevitable so long as you keep putting yourself out there.

    1. Yes! And there’s the other side of it. Am I, actually, just perfectly and totally normal? Every point you make is right on with what I’ve experienced as far as social requirements and realizations. Either you’re just as crazy as me, or you’re evidence that I’m right on time, Ben. Either way, your clarity makes me feel like it’s all alright.

      Thanks for that. And for reading. 🙂

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