The struggle to make a ‘living’ has never seemed worthwhile to me. It’s not that I don’t have a work ethic – I’m pretty damn conscientious, once I get started. I’m even quite bright, in an abstract, head in the clouds kind of way. I like to be helpful where I can. I like things to run smoothly. I have skills – they’re just not very marketable.
What I most lack is any ability to deal with other people’s shit. Ask me to do a clearly defined task that’s within my grasp, and I’ll happily oblige. Ask me to deal with whatever hectic schedule you’re running and the pressure you’re under, and I start looking for a car to jump in front of.
And that’s the thing: people don’t just want things done thoroughly and reliably. They want them done yesterday. They want them done at some crazy deadline that they’ve pulled out of their ass. They want to take on more business than they can reasonably fulfil, and then squeeze their staff to try and make up the difference. They want you to constantly stretch yourself to breaking point, to go above and beyond. Jump doggy, jump!
It’s not enough to do a simple task well for a price. You have to do it smiling, while building the right relationships. You have to do it at breakneck speed. And you have to agree to do it again in future – to give up the freedom to negotiate further. You have to contract, while knowing that the job won’t be there in 5 years. That there are already more desperate people in poorer nations hot on your heels. And behind them are computers who can absorb all this shit without feeling a thing, and do it faster without ever taking a lunch break. That it will take your health from you, mentally or physically.
Do all that, and just maybe you can make minimum wage. Which is fine. Minimum wage is easily liveable here. I don’t need much. I don’t plan on living to retirement, or ever taking a holiday. If rent ever goes up then I’d be screwed, but we’ll cross that chasm when we come to it.
But it’s just too many damn hoops, to get to even that most basic level of security. You give yourself, and for what?
And if you have a partner or a family then that’s fine – you’re doing it for something. There is meaning to it. There is some future that you’re working toward.
But if you’re busting your ass, jumping through all those hoops, sacrificing life and health, for nothing more than an early grave…then why not just skip ahead? Why bother with all the monotonous toil, the pressure and anxiety? Why not just jump to the inevitable conclusion, and end yourself? The only answer I can come up with is fear, which doesn’t seem a good reason.
But I will try to try again, in the hopes of some day finding a way to keep a roof over my head and food in my stomach without the urge to leap in front of oncoming traffic.
p.s. where’d my title box go?