It could be hormones, it could that the cold long days of winter are finally settling in or it could simply be reality. I strive to stay in a positive state of mind but for some reason today after getting the mail and receiving my W2 form, my mood has plummeted to ground zero. It’s not as if I didn’t know that I am grossly underpaid for what I do, that’s really no surprise, after all I am the one who does the budget for my agency. We have grown, our budget has grown but we simply aren’t at the place yet where my salary can be increased to be more in line with industry standards. Unless I want to give up all semblance of having a life and do my job and someone else’s which logistically isn’t possible. Trust me, I thought about this during the most recent budget season.
Standing on the cusp of what feels like a milestone birthday, I find myself wondering is there an age where following one’s bliss is simply foolish? Sure, stories abound about people who have made epic life changes at 40 and beyond but is there a point where those stories are just stories with odds slightly better than a winning Powerball ticket?
I attended a gathering recently where I ended up in a serious conversation with a man I know who is a little bit older than me. He told me that the greatest thing for him about being in his 40’s, was learning to accept what he was really capable of and making peace with life as it is. That conversation has stayed with me because on the surface while I was agreeing with him, part of me was wondering could I truly get to that place myself. A place where I accept that the trade-off for working as I do; is that I do truly meaningful work that makes a difference in the lives of many yet the financial rewards are little. At the same time, I have the work/life balance that suits me well, something that I don’t take for granted at all.
The past few years I have done a great deal of work around acceptance but I admit when it comes to money, I get tripped up. Money matters, too much of it can corrupt, but too little of it can make life hard. I see that daily in my work. Then I start to feel guilty when I throw what in essence is a private pity party. After all, I have a house that is brimming with love and all our needs are met. When so many suffer and struggle with getting their bare needs met, it feels shitty to even be discussing this. I mean is seeing my dad a necessity? Is seeing my family and friends a true need? Is it selfish to even worry about retirement when my genetic pool doesn’t favor my living much past 60?
Recently I received the most encouraging message from a new reader who also happens to be someone whose encouragement early in my academic career made me realize what was possible if I dared. Yet in this moment, despite all that I have been working towards with regards to growing my dream of writing into something more than a hobby, I have hit a wall. However as dire as this may all seem, I am going to trust that this wall is made of plaster and not drywall and will simply take a little extra strength to knock down. In the meantime while I am battling with this plaster, I will strive to keep passing the open windows since the alternative is probably not so pleasant.
I realize that posts such as this may seem almost too personal for posting in such an open manner but one thing I strive for here is honesty. I suspect that I am not the only one who grapples with such issues yet too often we rarely feel comfortable having these discussions with others and in some cases even with ourselves. So have no fear, I have no shame in getting raggedy and sharing the journey with you.