I have been thinking a lot about the idea of incremental change. If I consider the past ten years, I am often surprised that I ended up where I am today. But that’s only if I really stop to think about it. Otherwise, where I am today, how I spend my time, where I live, what I do for work… I give it little thought. This is just where I am right now. It is as if I had no plan at all.
But I am fortunate, my resume highlights the privileges that I’ve had – the good schools, good jobs, and now a pretty good life. I made decisions as they were available to me, but I also know that there was planning behind it – you don’t get into a good college without some planning afterall.
I remember being fifteen and dating someone. Then at one point realizing that this relationship was a distraction to the greater things I wanted out of life. Spending all my evenings and weekends with this person wasn’t going to get me into a good college, it wasn’t going to get me out of poverty, it wasn’t going to get me a good life. So I broke up with him.
I focused my time on extracurriculars, internships, working part-time, and acing my school work. I was a machine by the time I graduated high school. So when I was accepted into a good college with a scholarship, I was only moderately grateful. I was rejected by a lot of schools, and some schools didn’t offer me any money at all. It’s funny that the best school on the list, the “ivy league” was the only one that even gave me a decent scholarship to attend. I was graduating out of high school during the recession consequence of 2008. Recounting my options about school, I didn’t have much of a choice – it was either go to the ivy or go to the city college, either choice was to attend for little to no money. I worked hard; I was a hard worker. I knew I would have been fine going to any school.
I think about people I know – in debt, maybe dropped out, unemployed – in short, not living the life they want to live. Friends say they want to get a job, but one look at their diary and you see their actions don’t reinforce their wants. Friends say they want to get out of debt, or that money “stresses them out” – but sweep those problems under the rug and they don’t solve themselves. Often, problems will multiply (and with debt, it literally will get exponentially worse).
Friends say they want to get a job, but one look at their diary and you see their actions don’t reinforce their wants.
I have always felt a strong repulsion to that kind of thinking and lack of doing. When I was in high school and peers would complain about wanting to have money to spend, I would literally stare at them, bewildered and wondering what was stopping them from getting a job. If you aren’t spending all of your efforts, energy, time, attention to redoing your resume, researching companies and people that work at them, and interviewing, and cover letters, and emails, and redoing your resume again – you aren’t trying to get a job. You are saying with your actions that you are fine remaining unemployed.
You are saying with your actions that you are fine remaining unemployed.
But – some might contest – what about self care? Mental wellness? We are in the middle of a global pandemic you know! To this I say the same thing I told my parents, yes these are uncertain times and that brings stress. And sure, the unemployment benefits during covid-19 are nice. It’s comfortable.
But if you thought about the economics behind the CARES act and enhanced benefits, they want us to stay home so they created the incentive for us to do so. But don’t be fooled, if you read the fine print, the unemployment insurance checks have an end date – you will hit your maximum payout in a few weeks time (three months to be exact). And when you do, so will everyone else. Do you want to look for a job when millions of other people also need a job because everybody’s unemployment payments will have stopped? You want to wait, then try to find a job then? Good luck.
Self care is making the effort to take care of present you by ensuring a better and easier life for FUTURE you – the one that wakes up tomorrow and asks why you have so many problems. Why am I still broke? Why do I still have to stress about money? The same questions you ask TODAY of why so-and-so in your life is not going the way you want it to. Making plans and taking action to improve your situation in life IS self care.
Why live your life in a hamster wheel? Same questions, same problems, every single day? It’s because you didn’t create a plan and you didn’t take actions towards a solution yesterday that you are lamenting the same problems today.
And fuck that shit about drinking wine, taking a nap (although, raises my own hand, guilty here!), and taking it easy on yourself. Easy choices now often means a tough life. Touch choices now, often means an easier life. Make those tough choices now. Make that plan, take those next steps to create a life you want to live.