On Being a “Workaholic” When You Need the Money

(First of all, I need to be really clear that I put “workaholic” in quotes because it is a word with a cultural meaning which we all understand — and, perhaps, a word for which there is no obvious synonym — but also because making fun of alcoholism is kinda gross. So… that.)

It occurred to me at some point when I was banking freelance pieces so I could secretly disappear this Wednesday and Thursday, that a “normal person” (another gross term) might have just taken the days off. Instead, I planned out my schedule by the half hour (which gives me nine minutes to complete this piece, btw) so I could do everything and still disappear for most of Wednesday and Thursday.

Why? Because I like work, sure, but I also like the money.

I come across, both online and in person, as a cheery do-bee who just loves working. And yes, I get the question about work all the time. “How do you do it?” “How do you do so much of it?”

And I want to say, full stop: Because I need the money.

You know, to live.

I’ve written before on “how to know when you are earning enough,” and I’ll be the first to say that the amount of income I am currently earning is satisfactorily enough. (Not that I wouldn’t welcome any windfalls. If you know of any windfalls, please send them my way. I’ll be grateful and write a thank-you note with a really fancy pen that I’ll buy with the windfall money.)

So yes, what I’m earning is enough.

But I still have to earn it.

Which means I did not want to lose two days’ wages, not if I couldn’t squeeze them in to the rest of my life. And I think a lot of people feel like that. We’re all, to an extent, “one paycheck away” or “wage slaves” or some other gross term that means if we stop working, everything else stops.

(I’ve got four minutes to finish this.)

Overworking, or overachieving, or whatever you want to call it, gets a bad rap if you present as a perky member of the middle class (who, by the way, still washes her dishes in a bucket, but class signifiers in America are complicated). If you’re a member of the working class, it is a necessity and a tragedy simultaneously, depending on which viewpoint you are using to hover over the working class and judge their choices. If you are a CEO, or another member of the high-flying fast-paced “1 percent” (more gross terms, yayyyyyy), overworking is how you got to be where you are, and the system is set up to help you do it.

And my goodness, if you are a woman and a mother, it is just your way of having it all.

I don’t have an answer for this, except I’m tired of the “but you are still work-king?” the two-syllable sing-song of “how do you do it?!” and “why do you do it?!” simultaneously.

I love my job.

I need the money.

So I’ve got to keep both of those sentences balanced before I take care of any other aspect of my life. Because if there’s another way (besides a windfall), I don’t see it.

Photo credit: Lnk.Si

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