I worked in a lab for nine years. I thought that by going to school I would make more money. I thought a lot of things. I thought that working in a lab was making a difference. I thought that I made great money. I was so wrong. If we actually raise the minimum wage up to $15 an hour as proposed, I would have been paid less than minimum. My daughter has been working for a cafe for about 12 months now. She just got a promotion to shift manager and she is making nearly as much as I was after 9 years of giving my heart and soul to a company that obviously did not care about me.
I am now back in food service and the wages are higher and you add tips to that. Looking back I realize that I never hated food service, I hated the feeling trapped situation. I hated the customers that looked down at me. I hated the fact that my husband thought that it was my only option.
As I start working in food service again, I realized that not only do I like it, I like the freedom it gives. I can work whenever I want and I have the ability to live my life freely. I have that for the first time ever. I no longer have a partner who denies my ideas or desires. I no longer have the responsibility of children and pets. I also have no real belongings that trap me into debt. My basic costs are daily living expenses and a couple of medical bills. To me this is so liberating. I no longer have to achieve a minimum amount of money to survive. My rent is low, my bills are low and my life is free. Actually it seems very free and very liberating.
Taking the bike ride across the continent this summer opened up my life to a different way of living. A way that I desire to perpetuate. I want to live life without the stress of debt or bills. I want to live my life with the freedom to work as needed and work where I want to work.
I realized a couple of weeks ago, that I almost need to stress about life to the point of despondency and then pull myself up. Once I nearly give up, I take a moment to gather my bearings and I realize that stress is caused by our drive to be what others want us to be. When we cannot hold ourselves up to societal standards, it creates an impasse for us. For me, even though my ideology is quite different from society’s, I still find myself comparing and feeling like I do not measure up.
When I was married, I had a house, two nice cars and everything on the outside to align with societal happiness. My sister was arrested twice for Meth cooking and she lived in squalor. She had two illegit children and was always struggling. The first child I ended up raising, the second I had for a couple of years until his dad got out of prison. My sister now has that child, she has a house, several cars and a boat. When I do talk to my sister, I hear about all the great things she has and does. It enrages me a little bit. I still have this twinge of envy. I should be the one to have all those things. I should be the one with the great trips to places all over. I should be the one……..
The reality is that I am not envious of anyone, but I am not immune to the idea of a lifestyle I once had. It probably does not help that my ex-husband held a certain air of superiority to my sister. It affected me. I also, to this day look at my sister with a sense of something I cannot define. What I do have now is a sense of superiority, but not over my sister, over things. I realize that ownership is a form of slavery. I realize that obsessing over owning things puts all of us at a disadvantage. Humanity used to roam the Earth and build temporary shelters and follow the seasons. We had the freedom of movement and that freedom was only available due to the fact that we did not own much. We could pack our stuff on our backs and move forward.
I am not quite to that point, but I do have very minimal belongings. As I look back on my life, I feel badly that I looked down upon my sister. Other than the drug problem she had so much more freedom than me. I think maybe, my biggest regret is not understanding this years ago.