Value in Discontent

So the lovely and talented wondermart left a comment on my last entry that got me thinking more, and it turns out that I have more to say on the whole restless/dissatisfied thing than I’d thought. So I’ll elaborate a little more.

She’s right – I am lucky. But maybe the problem is that we’re always trading one set of problems for another.

Jet back a few years. I was in college. The possibility of having thirty bucks to spend would have astonished me. I was working two jobs – one as a file clerk and one as a glorified telemarketer, and due to a snafu in the payroll office I wasn’t getting paychecks for either job for almost two months. My financial aid was all fucked up too. I owned two pairs of jeans, neither of which had been washed for weeks, as I had no money to do laundry. I had bills piling up and no one to call for help with money; my parents didn’t have it and to ask them would have made both of us feel awful. I started selling my CDs to get some cash for the things I needed. I was sneaking my roommate’s shampoo because I couldn’t afford my own. I was taking a double course load as well as two independent studies. On Tuesdays I was in class from 9 in the morning until 10 at night with no meal breaks. I’d had a change in social circles and my phone stopped ringing for weeks.

In college I never went on a spring break trip with my friends. I never took a vacation during the summer. I went home and worked instead.

I’d lie in my bed at night and cry and through all this, one of the things that kept me going was the thought that this would all be worth it; I would graduate, get a fantastic job, and never have to worry about stuff like this again. And a 9-to-5 would be nothing compared to the schedule I was keeping.

Despite all of this, somehow, miraculously, I managed to graduate. And as my friends and classmates packed up and took graduation trips to China or Europe and moved to their new apartments to start grad school or jobs with big companies – airlines, market research firms, mega computer corporations, pharmaceutical companies – I used my graduation money to pay bills I was behind on, and to put gas in my car to be able to drive home. Once I got there, I sat around for a couple of months getting no bites on resumes, and waiting for my college loans to slam into the pile of debt I’d carried home from college.

Then I got a job. It had nothing to do with my major, but that’s okay. I was very, very lucky to get one so soon. And in many ways I have continued to be lucky. The pay sucked, but the job was absolutely secure, I worked for wonderful people, and I was really making my mark. So much so that when my boss moved on, I was promoted to her position. At 23 years old, I have been recognized regionally and nationally for my work, and I am a program director, and one of the youngest people ever to hold this position. I have a secretary and a staff and a fucking huge office.

Yes. I am lucky. I have worked hard. I have a lot going for me.

But.

I am 23 years old, with a degree from one of the top ten universities in the nation, and I am living at home with my parents. I make good money now and I am still having trouble paying my bills. I am so ashamed of this that I actually tend to avoid contact with college friends so I don’t have to explain or admit to it.

For six months, I have been working six days a week, and on three of those six days I am usually working 14 hours at a stretch. I had a hell of a lot more free time in college.

I haven’t been in a relationship for over two years. I haven’t even had a hookup, unless you count kissing Drunk Married Dude as a hookup, which I don’t.

All of these things make me question what in the hell it is I’m doing. And just like when I was in college, I keep hoping that all of this hard work I’m doing now will pay off and that in time I’ll find fulfillment and peace in the areas of my life which are lacking.

And I’m trying to figure out how to get that done. I really am. Contrary to what my last entry might have implied, I am quite grateful for what I do have in my life – a healthy, wonderful family, a secure job doing something I believe in, all of those things and more. But at the same time, I’m acutely aware these days of some of the things I’m missing and I’m just not content to live without them. There’s more to life than a good job. I need to find it and make it mine.

Maybe the lesson here is that we all have problems; many people who seem to have it all are really missing something big. As long as we’re careful to keep sight of what we have that’s positive, I think there’s definitely some value in discontent.

Comments 6

  • You will get out of this, I promise. It will come. And this comes from someone who is trying to convince herself of the same thing. Yes, yes, I'm 25 and living with my mom. But I DID just finish my first novel and am in the process of editing it. That's worth something, right? Right? Is this thing on…?

  • It's worth something, Sandy

  • It's the economy. We can't get satisfying jobs and that makes the rest of life look yucko.

  • maybe you work so hard to avoid having to make any choices. that's what i find myself doing sometimes. it's easier for me to live with the hopes i have when i immerse myself in my work. but hard work is seldom wasted. look at it this way: the time you're putting in now will afford you the luxury of making choices for yourself in the long run.

  • Time put now = value to life later.

    My answer to this = as soon as I've paid off this debt (end of year/ jan) I'm off like a rocket putting time into me and persuing what it is I enjoy wherever I believe I can find it.

    I've now tried settling down and while cars excite and family is dear to me I, too, find myself unable to manage a life I'm comfortable with in this traditional way.
    I gave the settled approach a shot and soon I'm going back to exploring and making my way on my own terms vs. those a co. or family or community or leases, etc. might impose. Of course, the cost is distance from family, no real community and nothing that's going to be left to my sisters should I die – but life has just got too much to give to keep myself trapped under those things (material/ monetary) that have so little to do with it.
    Discontent can bring reassessment and change – make sure you follow through with the swing.

  • I had a much easier time than you in college, for all two years of it. After working my tail off for 10 years, it was heaven to go to school and work two part-time jobs (one of which was a dream come true job that I would NEVER get outside of workstudy). When I say it was the best time of my life, I don't mean partying. But after a bitter job hunt I also landed a job that had nothing–well, very little–to do with my major, and even then got suckered into a different account than the one I had applied for, which would have had a LITTLE more to do with my major. And so I ended up making half what I should have been making, trying to pay off loans for schooling that did me no good. But YOU are young. There is still time for you to run your life in a different direction if you so choose. Sounds to me like you need to do some thinking. (Which you obviously are, duh!)

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