In regards to the past few years, I can split my personal timeline by one definite point: before I quit my second job, working at a convenience store, and afterwards. I’m not in a “taking stock” mode in my life, but for some reason a rather disturbing thought struck me earlier: am I happy as a result?
Of course, my immediate answer is yes. I’m (hypothetically) getting enough sleep now on a regular basis. I’ve gotten much more done creatively, especially when it comes to my writing. I can actually spend every day working on a novel, as opposed to a few notes here and there throughout the work week and a semi-productive blitz for a few hours each weekend. I’m generally less stressed out. One of the biggest factors of stress that I had was regular interaction with people who pissed me off—both in terms of customers and co-workers. Finally, while I can’t say I’m doing something that much more glamorous, I don’t have the stigma of “working at a convenience store.” I never think that should have been held against me as a judgement of the value of my character. Still, even if other people didn’t imply it I always had that thought in the back of my mind.
On the other hand, there’s a reason I asked the question. I may have become a more rounded person via my creative as well as intellectual pursuits. Nonetheless, I don’t know if I’m any happier. That’s not to say that I’m a sad person, nor was I then. (There was that brief period of what I think was depression but that was due to a variety of factors, only one of which was work-related.) I still get stress at work. I have to perform a lot of physical labor. I supervise the early morning stock crew and sometimes that can get overwhelming. On top of that, I don’t make a lot of money. I make a living, but I could definitely use more, at least to make it feel like the job is worth it.
I am up for promotion, which would help with all of those areas. However, that’s not a done deal. Besides, it doesn’t address the real issue. Why is my overall happiness dependant on how much money I make? Like I said, I’m making a living. But I’m also stressing out all the time about not having enough money to have any fun. When I do spend money on something “frivolous,” such as a couple of beers at a bar or even too many coffee-shop visits in a row, I feel guilty. I worry if I’m going to make rent for the month. Then something else big happens, such as the strong possibility that I’m going to have root canal therapy soon. Granted, my insurance will pay half, but I’m still going to have to spend a few hundred dollars on that one. I really don’t want to cancel my vacation based on that.
Does this mean that after I go on vacation I won’t feel so bad? Does it mean that I have to lose all of my creative time and instead work a second job again? Can I really wait it out to see if I get promoted or will I end up walking out on my job in frustration (thereby making the problem worse)? Maybe I just needed to get the whining out of my system. Still, I could use the extra cash.