Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Price of Busy

When we run into people we haven't seen for a while I've noticed they frequently say something to the tune of "How've you been?  Keeping busy?"  If you answer "Yes," this is a sign that you are doing well and everything is fine.  In fact, it seems to be something of a badge of honor.  Isn't it?

Exactly a year ago, I was engaged in several side gigs: PM School, Saturday School, SAT, ACT, and a few miscellaneous things here and there.  It filled my pocketbook, but not my spirit.  I found myself completely exhausted, tense, and stressed out.

I thought about things outside of work that I felt most passionate about: writing, acting, singing, directing, cooking, travel, meditation, exercise, and time with friends and family...  I didn't have time for any of them, at least not any substantial time.  Sure, I could sneak some of these things in the cracks of time remaining here and there, but it was just enough to know what I was missing--MY LIFE!

The money wasn't even as good as I thought it was!  The SAT/ACT didn't take any money out for taxes, cost me over an hour commuting, requires me to pay my accountant for an extra tax form...  When I took those things into consideration, it was only really paying me $10/hour (or slightly more)...  Hardly worth getting up at 5:00 AM on a Saturday for!  PM School and Saturday school paid well.  Well enough to place me into a higher tax bracket.  I didn't really enjoy PM school. It tacked an extra couple of hours onto my day, when I was already exhausted from a full day of teaching.  I am the sort of person that cares about doing a good job at things I take on,  it was difficult to feel like I could do my best under that level of exhaustion.  To further add to it, my students frequently skipped class.  If the students aren't there, then I'm tacking on extra hours to my day, but not actually helping students to accumulate credits.  To answer the question looming.. Yes, I would still get paid regardless.  But that didn't really matter.  If I wasn't helping students, I would prefer to get some of my time back.  Saturday school was a tutoring program where students could come in if they wanted extra help.  I enjoyed it actually.  I was going to continue it, but they increased the hours and changed it to a credit-bearing class.  These changes in programming left me feeling like it would simply be too much for me.  These programs would go on without me; the students would still get the support they needed.  The opportunity would simply float to another teacher.

I can always earn more money, but I will never get my time back.  I love my students, but I also love myself enough to recognize that I deserve time to pursue other passions as well.  By stacking my life with these side gigs, it was as if someone said they'd "pay me extra" to give up my passions.  For a short time, I actually said yes!  I finished the year strong, wrapping up all of the extra programs to which I had attached myself.  By years-end, I had decided that I was letting go of my position in those programs, and gift the opportunity to another teacher the following year.  The price of busy had simply become too high.

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