Work, bills, and personal health…

Not having a regular job is strange.

About nine months ago I realized that my fiancé and I were not going to be able to raise the funds to move to Texas for the 2016-17 school year. That is when I contacted Brite Divinity to defer my enrollment to this fall in the hopes that we would be able to move there after a year of saving money. At the same time, I landed a job as a salesperson inside Costco, where I would be selling cell phones.

Believe me, I do not belong in sales.

When I worked for the Duck Store, it was a completely different retail environment. Everyone coming into the store was already looking for something (or maybe they weren’t), and it was not my job to make sure they bought more than they intended to buy, nor to buy from the Duck Store (though we were instructed to emphasize the value of shopping with us, of course). For the most part, I would help customers find the items they were already looking for, bag it up, and wish them a fun time at the Duck game for whichever sport was in season. It had its bad days, but it was fun for the most part.

Costco is a different environment altogether. Most customers coming in are there for a myriad of reasons, but mostly they are there for better prices. And when they are looking for a new phone, they usually pop in to their local corporate store for their carrier and/or the nearest Best Buy just to have a price point in mind when they come to see our deals. What this meant for me was constantly having to be ready to persuade someone to shop from me – on top of helping them find a suitable phone. But on top of all this, we had to hit our sales goals, which included more than just phones: tablets, protection plans, and accessories had to be pitched with every phone sale. Lastly, instead of simply greeting customers as they walked up to our kiosk, we were asked to be out in the aisles, telling people about the deals we have for phones, tablets, etc. (even when we did not have great deals).

For an introvert, this is an extremely exhausting environment. Not only was I among hundreds of people inside a building, but I had to engage almost every one of them who came by our kiosk. And when our kiosk is positioned close to the front door, that means we talked to practically everyone. Greeting customers at the Duck Store was easy; I would say hello and let them know that I was available to help them find what they were looking for. But at the kiosk, I had to force conversations with customers – even when it was clear via their body language that they were not interested in having a conversation. They just wanted to look at the phones.

With all the extroverted energy required for this job, I realized that I could not work much longer there. So, at the tail end of October, I bought a new car (2016 Kia Soul that I am very happy with) and applied to become a Lyft driver. And a little more than a week ago, I finally left the kiosk.

Having been away for about ten days, I now realize just how toxic of an environment that really was. All of the social energy spent during even a slow work day would often leave me mentally and physically drained when I got off. Any reading or writing that I had wanted to do at the beginning of the day would definitely not get done at the end of it. Instead, I would come home, eat food, and binge-watch a show on Netflix until I was tired enough to sleep. For someone who desires to continue school, having a job that cultivates creative energy is important. At this job, my creative energy had to be manipulated to get customers to buy from me so that I would receive a better paycheck. So not only was my creativity already being spent, it was being spent for something that only really benefitted me (sometimes the customer also).

When I think back on all or most of my blog writing, I did it with the hope that someone somewhere would find something relatable in it. That is how I would like my creative energy to be used; to connect with other people – and maybe even help them. And this is why I could not work much longer at that kiosk; any and all energy had to be used for my own personal gain. It just was not healthy for me.

These past ten days have been freeing, though. Sure, our financial situation is still weighing on me; we have about three months to raise a budget for our wedding in July on top of all the other monthly bills we have (totaling close to $3,000). But I am in a far better position to handle these stresses since I am no longer in a job that only added more stress. Even if we are unable to move to Texas this summer, I know that I am in a much healthier place.

And the academic itch has been rekindled, too. I have a lot more time to read with a fully engaged mind, work on my Hebrew/Greek, and/or write stuff I want to write (like this post). There is quite a long road ahead of me to get ready for Brite, so I am quite thankful to have a little more time and energy at home. But I think what I am most excited about is being able to be my creative self.

Being a Lyft driver full time requires a greater amount of self-discipline, too. Sure, most of the days I have taken off lately were to get other things done and/or caught up. But some days, like yesterday, were because I was procrastinating. This will not work for the long haul, but the thing I keep in mind is that eight hours of driving people around is not nearly as toxic as working at that kiosk. I can drive from 8 to noon, come home for a two hour lunch, and then cap off the work shift from 2 to 6 – all with plenty of time in the evening for whatever I would like – like wedding planning and book reading with the fiancé. And if this does not produce the needed income, I can drive Friday and Saturday nights, too.

For all of my life, I have worked jobs that I believed I could manage without ever considering whether or not that job was healthy for me. And my definition of “manage” was basically being able to survive a work shift and still have some physical energy when I came home. Emotional and mental factors were hardly ever considered. So I feel a little uncomfortable leaving a job mostly for emotional/mental factors, but I think it is because I never learned to care for myself in a work environment.

I suppose this means that wise decisions are not always comfortable.

Thank you for reading.

 

P.S. For those who would like to help my fiancé and I with our wedding and move to Texas, we have a fundraiser to which you can donate here. Any little bit will help. Thank you!

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Jeremy

Cherokee / Whovian / Sherlockian / Aspiring Auror / Lover of Jesus, Scripture, and creativity / MATS Student at George Fox Seminary.

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